Saga has been recommended to me by people who know comics, but even more interestingly, it was recommended to me by my cousin who’s never read comics. Ever. But still, he was emphatic, even going so far as to call me specifically and tell me to pick it up. That means something, I think. It means we are moving into a culture that not only accepts nerd literature, it also supports it. Comics have been elevated, thanks in no small part to Art Spiegelman’s award winning Maus. That collection did for comics what Citizen Kane did for films. I guess that makes Brian K. Vaughan the Christopher Nolan of comics.
But then, maybe I just don’t know that much about film.
The first trade paper back of the Saga series does little to disappoint. Fiona Staples captures the feel of Vaughan’s writing perfectly, her art being that perfect mix of fantasy and exactness. Everything looks like it could be real, even if there’s no chance of it ever existing.
The story opens with two parents, one from each race of waring aliens, on the run with their mixed-race child. Both sides want the parents killed and the child captured, due in part to what a mixed-race birth could mean for the war. Side plots follow a bounty hunter named “The Will” and a robot prince who’s head is also a TV ( a nod to Rice Boy, I’d hope).
Vaughan does a good job of mixing convincing fantasy elements with science fiction. Everything makes sense because all elements interact with one another in the rules created by Vaughan’s world. It’s kind of beautiful, actually, because somethings are magic simply because they’re magic. The writing style doesn’t demand direct explanation, but instead offers believability through the presentation of an incredibly well thought out and detailed universe.
More importantly, you can’t help but fall in love with the characters. They’re all conflicted, but also madly in love. I use that term loosely, because some characters are in love with each other, or that love is unrequited, or they’re just mad. Either way, it’s completely compelling, a story that’s impossible to put down.
My favorite character is Izabel, a pink teenage ghost who aids Marko and Alan (the before mentioned parents) in escaping a war torn planet. I love her design, a floating torso with guts hanging out. It’s morbidly beautiful.
But it mirrors the character so well. She is this dead spirit, which is completely macabre, while also being a teenage girl, which is pink. It’s very clever, when you look at it like that. The art and the writing work together to tell a story, and both do so intently.
Saga is the kind of book that makes me love comics. I don’t think you have to be a comics fan to get it, I just think you have to appreciate art in general. It’s entirely wild while at the same time being entirely accessible. It’s interesting and different while offering something that any reader can connect to. It gives you this visceral experience with those small grotesque moments that make being a human so difficult. To put it simply, Saga is just damn fine writing.
The sixth issue comes out November 14th. If I’m honest, my only disappointment with this series is that I have to wait.