Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Top 10 Tuesdays - Ten Reasons Why Saga Is Amazing

This week brings us the return of Brian K Vaughan. Oh, what a glorious day. But will it be all we want? Can such a miraculous rebirth truly offer all the golden brilliance we hope for? I've read the first issue of Saga and I can dutifully say, yes, this was well worth the wait. Hit the jump to see all the reasos why Saga is just what you need.

1. It's a true next step for BKV

There have been many comics in BKV's past but the two main steps we need to look at are Y: The Last Man and Ex Machina. These are the major creator owned ongoing series BKV has proven himself on. Both are also pretty damn close to comic perfection ( I would actually say Y is right at the apex of it). This is BKV's third major creator owned ongoing and we have to compare it against Y and Ex.

Y was as much as journey for BKV as it was for Yorick Brown. This was the formative book where BKV learnt the craft through applied practise. By the end, BKV was a master. Note: while not every page of Y is perfect I do feel oval it is amazing and issue #57 is easily my favourite issue of all time. This was BKV 's rise to the top.

Ex Machina has a more refined quality. This was a man well on his way to the top. BKV continued to experiment with tone and style in this book - he placed himself into the narrative at one stage, he seeded plot points to recapture them years later. Ex showed us BKV, and Y, wasn't just full of luck. This guy knew exactly what he was doing every time.

Following up one of those titles would be difficult but here we have BKV closing the trifecta. It's a big ask and in a bold move he goes into another direction, yet one equal in scope and excellence. Y was one man's tale of growth on the inside, and Ex charted the growth of a a man as an icon for a city - Saga is, or at least appears to be at this short stage, a massive romance set against a sprawling sci-fi backdrop. BKV has chosen to go wider in scope and this time is looking at the growth of a man, the woman he loves, and the family he is starting. It's a great direction because it is something new and it should give BKV plenty of new things to show and tell.

2. It's funny

Though this be a sci-fi epic, Saga is also funny. Our intrepid leads, Marko and Alana, might be a different species, from us and each other, but they are still open and extremely likable. At first, this is slightly off putting. It feels like it is going against the genre. These people have horns and wings and yet they still read like BKV characters - they are snarky and mildly potty mouthed. It feels wrong but after a few scenes you soon understand where this book is aimed. Saga is unique, it isn't Star Wars and it isn't Y, it's something new. There are few genre examples you could point to that would encapsulate how this book rolls.

Within just one issue, Saga delivers a number of laughs between the heartfelt moments and amazing images. The breaks with levity are appreciated and ensure we like, and no doubt will soon love, the characters we need to invest in as we commit our future to this title.

3. It's wide in scope of ideas

This comic has lead characters who aren't Caucasian. I know, right - insane. But apart from that revelatory fact, this book brims with ideas exploring and celebrating the fantastical.

There is a small section of this comic that is expositional and there BKV details a massive planet and it's innocuous moon and their constant aggressive struggles. This world building is obvious whereas the rest of the book is much more covert in its ability to expand the detail of this world. A 'grease monkey' at some chop shop turns out to actually, and hilariously, resemble a monkey. A strange regal Corp of robots have what appear to be tv screens for heads. A large talking cat knows when you are lying. These aren't silly ideas or grabs for attention, this is just BKV filling his newnlandscape.

If you can't appreciate the double splash at the end of this comic, and all it contains and means, then maybe you just aren't any fun.

4. Fiona Staples' Art

A smart and brilliant comic deserves the very best art. Saga gets it.

It's easy to say Staples' art is amazing. Everyone will be claiming they knew all along, knew it before it was cool, but Saga really is her best work. Staples has always been a great artist but here she nails every single panel. The sci-fi concepts sing and yet the moments that stick with me are the faces of Alana and Marko. Staples is building two spectacular characters that draw us in and make us care. Staples is emoting on every page.

She also smashes a wicked battle scene full of crazy creatures and lots of flames.

5. 44 pages for $2.99

You don't have to be a convert going into this, you don't have to stick to the Image party line, and you don't need to worship at the alter of BKV. You just need to be willing to try because 44 pages for $2.99 is astounding value.

If you can't squeeze this into your weekly budget then you don't actually want good value for great comics.

6. There are plenty of characters to choose from

Marko is the most typical BKV character. He's a man-child, he's quirky, and he's a whole mess of fun. Then Alana is the strong female, another BKV trope and one no one should argue against. Both these people hold a page easily.

A slick bountyhunter is introduced and his first action will instant man-crush you to him. If this book is BKV's Star Wars then he has just shown us his Han Solo. But this guys name is The Will.

Prince Robot IV is an intriguing diplomat/war hero who certainly has room to grow. And Secret Agent Gale adds just as much intrigue to the page.

This is a populated world and everyone has their reason to be there.

7. It tells a tale on two levels

BKV uses dialogue, intimated information, and captions from a displaced time to tell this story on many levels. This is a comic that makes you want to analyze the structure and it makes you want to look deeper. Saga is beautifully written and structurally gorgeous. This book manages to be smart as well as fun.

8. A strong female lead

BKV has always written some damn fine women. Alana continues that trend throughout this entire issue. She is strong and determined and wonderful and so damn perfect. Alana is a real female character with her own motives and desires and ways of doing things. She is strong and holds her own and can always make you smile.

Alana is the sort of character you literally fall in love with.

If Fiona Staples has any number of sketches, drawings, panels, or pages of Alana sitting around I'll gladly put them on my bedroom wall. My wife be damned.

9. It is, at it's base, a love story

You can care about the monsters and the intrigue and the danger but at the centre you need to really invest in this tale of love. Love is going to see these people through terrible times and love is going to provide fortitude and reasons to survive. Love is the key to this book.

It's sweet to see such a simple and universal emotion rule the heart of a tale

10. Because it's brilliant comics

Saga is full of great dialogue, insane imagination, textured craft, the list goes on. If you don't want to at least try this comic then perhaps you need to get out of comics. You might be missing the point.

Well, that might be hyperbole but I like it. Saga represents what comics can do so well there is story, character, world building, erudition. It's all here. If you can't spare $2.99 then I don't know what your money is going towards.

Saga is a great comic, straight out of the gate. Imagine what it will be like when it has enough time to lay roots and foundations and then only needs to build up. This is the sort of thing you tell people comics can do.

Enjoy Saga tomorrow and let us know what you thought. I'm hoping there isn't a counter-cultural revolt against BKV - I guess one more day will tell us al what we know and feel. Share your thoughts below.

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CombatSpoon86 said...

Can't wait to get my hand on this Wed. I had to cut 3 books just to fit this in my Pull. Well worth it. BKV is in my top 5 all time writers.

Eric van Schaik said...

Hi Combatspoon86,

Just being curious. Which books did you have to cut/drop?
I'm still waiting for my Runaways TBS's at the LCS (came in a "little" late).
In Holland we get the books on thursday (booooh), I don't want to wait an extra day.
Can't wait to read Saga.

CombatSpoon86 said...


I cut Batwoman, Wonder Woman, Scarlet Spider and Secret Avengers. Trying to do a little less mainstream and more Indie work.

Ryan K Lindsay said...

@combatspoon86 - damn, that's some serious cutting. Hope you dig the new indie titles to replace those (from all accounts) pretty good titles.

CombatSpoon86 said...


Lol. Yea I had to make some deep cuts. I only added Manhattan Projects and Saga so far. I might go back to some of the titles later on but wanted to have variety and pull less books. Plus Marvel books like to ship twice every other month.

Ivan said...

Agreed on all counts. BKV didn't disappoint with this first issue. He remains my favorite comics writer.

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