Review by Shaun Daniels and Edited by Sharon Wong
From the changing comic book landscape (thanks to digital comics) to the groundswell of high concept, creator-owned titles, now is truly one of the most interesting time periods for comic books, both good and bad. On the forefront of creator-owned titles is publisher Image Comics, which is experiencing a bit of a renaissance with the majority of its monthly titles. Every month either a new book premieres or another rises to the top of our comic stack. Saga, the sci-fi fantasy book by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples, is quickly becoming the anticipated book of each and every month. Blending elements of fantasy with sci-fi maybe nothing new to comics or storytelling but, dammit, this duo makes it look fucking effortless and sexy as hell.
Saga opens up on an amusing one-page panel of two women comprised of bigger-than-your-average heads for torsos and legs that never seem to stop. The lovely alien ladies welcome freelancer The Will to Sextillion, a planet built on the tourism of sex. In the next scene, Marko is being pulled back from Death’s doorstep and having to face Alana’s inquisition about who Gwendolyn is. The rest of the issue fills us in on Marko’s backstory, providing insight to his life, pre-Alana. There is a character moment with The Will; the setup is straightforward as The Will states to an alien pimp that the sex he’s seen thus far on the planet “feels safe.” The two men move further and further down into the seedy underbelly of Sextillion to a special area where The Will is presented with a “girl,” leaving you with a not-so-fresh feeling through the imagery. Of course, the nature of the girl causes unpleasantries between the two. The dynamic of this scene may result in the reader feeling indifferent in regards to The Will and his mission. The book ends on a cliffhanger and appears that the Robot Lord has found Marko and Alana.
The writing and art is a perfect blend of the two creators, and really gives a sense of the pair working together in harmony. One key scene that screams this perfect balance is when Marko and Alana discuss Gwendolyn. While feeding Ruby, Alana begins to grill Marko on his love life in the past. There comes a point in any relationship where moments like this happen with two people, who will have arguments similar to this that pop up at any given time. In the case of Saga, it was during breastfeeding and the whole scene plays out like a married couple arguing in real life. Staples captures the body movements and facial expressions which sells both the scene and Vaughan’s dialogue.
The alien designs sets the book apart from others as aliens range from human-like or, for the lack of a better phrase, very alien. The design does not stop at just the art but the history and life/lives of the aliens. Take Izabal for example, when her race dies they become ghosts bound to the planet on which they were killed. Turning into a ghost is so matter of fact for her and her race that it is no more a spiritual experience than going from puberty to adulthood. Not convinced? Buy Saga because you might want to check your pulse since you may not be alive. Also, if you were late to Y: the Last Man, Runaways and Mystery Society, now is the chance to jump aboard and say you’ve been reading this book from the very beginning.
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