Wednesday, March 14, 2012
So you've probably already had a chance to read through Ryan's thoughts on this book, but maybe you're still not sure about the much-hyped new comic from hit creators Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples. Maybe you're wishing that you could get a second opinion on the title without having to look towards another site for it. If that describes you, then you are in luck, my friend, because I am prepared to offer you just that. So if you would be so kind, hit the jump for another look at the series that they call Saga.
(The only downside of going through this second opinion is that I only have the same images that Ryan had to offer you. Hopefully that won't be a dealbreaker, because there's nothing I can do about that!)
Written by Brian K. Vaughan
Art by Fiona Staples
Saga #1 throws you right into the story from the get go. It opens with the birth of our narrator, and before you know it, you've been introduced to all manner of high-concepts, including a galaxy-spanning conflict, a (possible) rocketship forest, and much more.
But I'm getting ahead of myself.
Saga is a bit of a departure for Brian K. Vaughan, as it is a work that embraces its science fiction nature, populated as it is by all types of aliens and spacery. But for all the scifi surface coating, this book is most definitely a love story at its core - at least for now.
And the love we're offered is as classic as they get, with two people from opposite sides of that aforementioned conflict meeting and falling in love despite the outside forces around them. Which brings us back to that opening birth.
There's a lot to like in this opening issue. For one thing, it is 44 pages long and retails for the low, low price of $2.99, which knowing my price-per-page predilections is kind of amazing in my books. But more importantly, what you get for that astounding value is astounding in and of itself.
Simply put, this is great comics. Vaughan's razor-sharp character work (and wit!) is on full display throughout as he slowly introduces us to a varied cast of characters, including our lovable (and deeply in love) leads, Alana and Marko. As mentioned above, in true Romeo and Juliet fashion, one is from the Landfall forces while the other fought for the Wreath. And of course, their love made them want to leave the awful horrors of war behind and start life anew. But like any good story, the war isn't terribly accommodating and won't let them get out so easily.
That summary may read as a little cliché, but Vaughan makes it all feel fresh and exciting. The in medias res start is a big part of that, with Vaughan's storytelling digging its hooks into you before you even really know what's going on. The other part is Alana and Marko's newborn baby, who just so happens to also play the role of omniscient narrator throughout the issue.
This is actually one of my favourite aspects of the book, as her narration - from some indeterminate point in the future - adds a heck of a lot to the story, acting as guide to the world Alana and Marko inhabit, comic relief, and quite a bit more. Some of the best moments from this opener come from her undercutting the words of her parents. Oftentimes it is to great comedic effect, but she also lends some rather foreboding and bittersweet moments, which really stand out.
As great s the main story is, it wouldn't take you all that far without some outside forces providing conflict, and Vaughan is happy to oblige on that score. From the moment Alana gives birth, Landfall and Wreath forces seem intent on capturing and / or killing the deserting lovers, and that is only the beginning of the new family's troubles.
It quickly becomes clear that no one seems all that keen on letting the fact that love can overcome the longstanding war get out, and we are soon introduced to a number of plots that intend to ensure that word doesn't travel all that far. This is more brilliant work by Vaughan, as he bring sin even more interesting characters whose actions and interactions provide the reader with an increased understanding of the world he's creating.
First up is Prince Robot IV, a member of one of the (presumably) many alien races that are allied with Landfall. For reference, Robot shares some rather strong physical similarities with Rice Boy's The One Electronic (not that Evan Dahm has a lock on humanoid creatures with TVs for heads or anything), and like Marko, also wants to leave the terrors of war behind him to be with his true love. Unfortunately, he doesn't get nearly as far, as he is recruited by the
enigmatic dickish Special Agent Gale to hunt down our protagonists.
A similar scene takes place when The Will, a skilled freelancer, is hired by a mysterious figure from Wreath to accomplish virtually the same mission - with one notable difference in his parameters. As I said, these moments not only give us more characters to whet our proverbial whistles, they offer more information on what the heck is going on - while of course still managing to leave things tantalizingly vague.
On the topic of tantalizing, I am rather remiss to have ignored the wonder that is Fiona Staples' art until so late in this review. Vaughan has worked with some awful talented artists in the past, and Staples' work here is more than able to keep up with what has come before. Frankly, she is putting down some of the best work of her career - and it shows.
For all the great and far-out ideas that Vaughan is throwing out there, it's up to Staples to make them a reality, and she is more than up to the challenge. She gives the reader 44 pages of comics that she has penciled, inked, and coloured herself, and it's gorgeous from cover to cover. Staples' varied character designs perfectly realize Vaughan's large cast of characters, with each one offering unique elements that speak to the world these two amazing creators and making before our very eyes.
But it's not just the design that Staples aces, it's the whole package. From panel layout to facial expressions to anything else, Staples knocks it all way out of the park. There is not a single page that isn't worth poring over to really understanding what's going on. Her attention to detail demonstrates the love and care that has obviously gone into the making of this book. My favourite bit - going back once more to our omniscient narrator - is that Staples hand writes her every piece of narration, lending a personalization and otherly aspect to the words that give them even greater gravitas.
Verdict - Must Read. I don't think it'll come as much surprise to you to hear that I loved Saga #1. Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples manage to give the reader both an engaging story and a living world for it to take place in over the course of this opener. As I said, this is definitely a love story, but it's also so much more. There's every reason to give this guy a chance, so why don't you?