Brian K. Vaughan is back this week with a new series entitled Saga for Image comics. This is a special treat because Wednesday is typically a day we comic geeks get to continue the stories we love as they hit the rack. To start a new series fresh, especially one that might last years, is very exciting. On top of that he’s delivering a book that’s 44 pages long for $2.99! It’s almost silly not to pick this issue up for the value.
Vaughan has been out of the comic book business for a few years now. He wrote for the television show Lost for a few seasons and then was reportedly working on developing Stephen King’s book Under the Dome for television. One might wonder then, is Vaughan’s writing as sharp as it was on his fantastic series Y the Last Man or is there some rust to shake off?
Saga #1 (Image)
This book is decidedly adult in nature. Vaughan’s two previous creator owned series, Ex Machina and Y the Last Man were a lot more straight laced in comparison to Saga. Those books didn’t contain nudity, or overtly sexual scenes as Saga does. It’s pretty clear Vaughan wants us to know this, based on the first line of dialogue in the book.
The first scene involves one of our heroes giving birth. Just like Vaughan is with this new series. Cute!
No one will fault this book for not containing a lot of ideas. Vaughan has created an entire galaxy here, which will be a selling point for a lot of people. Early buzz compared this series to Star Wars although aside from an expansive galaxy completely unfamiliar to anyone, that’s about where the comparisons end. The fact that each issue will reveal a little more culture and flavor of the galaxy is a great way to keep readers interested. It’s decidedly weird in nature which might put a lot of people off. This is the wild West of science fiction and it’s clear Vaughan isn’t pulling any punches in designing this world.
Protagonists Marko and Alana are from different species of humanoid people. Alana is from a people that have fairy wings that live on the planet Landfall. Marko’s people are magic wielding with ram horns from a moon that orbits Landfall called Wreath. These two cultures have been waring for a long time, which puts Alana and Marko in a bad place. The war spread across the galaxy and has included other species who fight for either side. No where is safe!
Somebody explain television headed aliens to me. Not to mention them banging.
It’s scenes like the one shown above that give the book a very strange, albeit original feel. Aside from that it seems to only be in the book for shock value; because it looks weird and may make the audience uncomfortable. (Or make the 3 people with television head fetishes sexually enraptured.) It appears he’s trying to weight this world in a realistic place, so if weird looking aliens are having sex, or in another scene their intestines are spilling out, the audience will take it more seriously. It works to some extent, but it also is a tad unnerving, especially in a first issue when characters are being established.
The story is told on two levels, one being the main narrative, and another of the protagonist’s child speaking from the future. Vaughan and artist Fiona Staples employ a script style for this narration that keeps things light and less formal. It allows the child to speak about the past as if from a safe place, but also making it more intimate. It works well here to keep things calm among the dramatic events. There’s a sense of humor to the book too, which keeps things out of the melodramatic area. Considering our heroes are being chased by bounty hunters and are stuck between a war between their people a little levity will help keep the book level headed.
Magic vs. laser weapons!
There’s also an interesting religious story going on at a higher level that adds another layer to the story. A woman named Vez is after Marko as he betrayed “the narrative.” It will be interesting to see how that pans out as well. Ultimately though, this is a love story between Marko and Alana. Brian K. Vaughan is a master at dialogue and interesting conversation, and with the levels of bigotry between aliens and their beliefs, it’s going to be interesting what he comes up with.
Fiona Staples pencils are a perfect match for Vaughan’s storytelling. Really all he needs is an artist who can draw exceptional facial expressions and Staples can do that all day. The characters always come across as genuine and smiles feel warm and realistic.
This book is a soap opera at the end of the day after all.
I was a little underwhelmed with Staples design of non humanoid creatures though. For instance, these giant turtles look a tad silly to me,
No telling how long this series will last, but judging by the fact that the plot is similar to Y the Last Man I’d wager it could go on for years. The similarity between the two books is simple, but it also forecasts how long a story like this can last. The protagonists are a man and a woman, on a journey across a large expanse, in this case possibly across a galaxy, with countless enemies out to get them. From there the similarities end. Considering this plot can last as long as the characters keep running, we might be reading this comic for years to come.
As first issues go the book is set up quite nicely. The stakes are raised, Alana and Marko must flee the planet they are on to protect their newborn baby. The sides are outlined and explained, as well as the understanding that Alana and Marko have only been together a few months. The two met under the guise of war, and on top of this Marko seems to want to swear off war, while Alana still wants to fight, not against her husbands people but for survival. Brian K. Vaughan has laid out his chess board and I can’t wait to watch him play.
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