Saga: Book One by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples.
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
So, here’s something I picked up in an ebook bundle. And conveniently, it turns out to be one of the more enjoyable comic series I’ve dipped my toe into.
(It probably helps that I was a bit of a fan of Vaughan’s Y: The Last Man series, though.)
The setup is pretty easy: it’s a space opera. So it features rocket-ships (albeit ones made out of wood, on occasion), and plenty of pew pew action. There’s TV-headed robot royalty. One-eyed interspecies erotica authors. Sex planets. Freelance assassins. And an interspecies baby that’s not supposed to be – folk with wings don’t get it on with dudes with horns, at least they’re not supposed to. Oh, and there’s magic and spirits and talking cats that know when you’re lying, too.
Yeah, I know, it sounds like a lot to be going on with. And I’m not entirely convinced at this point (this edition captures the first eighteen issues (or three trades) of the run) that it can keep all the balls in the air indefinitely. But when the beats land, they really land. I like to think that it’s because even though there’s an enormous planet-moon war going on, the focus is relentlessly personal: on the moments that bring solace in the middle of such times of tension.
Let’s face it: this is really a series about having kids and making choices in the hope that they’re less shitty than the previous ones you’ve made. It’s about regret and loss, with a lot of time spent on grief in between the outer-space LOLs. And for the most part, it works so well.
I can forgive a lot of flaws in the book, mostly because of how honest it appears. A lot of what I don’t like about SF/F is that in some instances, it seems like a great excuse to create a world or a bunch of lore, which then is never populated with characters one can give a shit about. That’s not the case here, because even when it’s overwritten, there’s a sense of bulletproof belief in how the characters would behave – and how their bonds are constructed. I mean:
This collected edition features a really great addendum explaining how a typical issue comes to be, from beginning to final PDF. It’s intriguing, because you can see how gnomic the initial ideas are, before they’re fleshed out from section to page to panel. I like that the creators are unafraid to show what’s behind the curtain: it speaks to the honesty of their work, and its ability to stand up for itself.
I’m so glad I went into Saga cold. People hadn’t spoiled it – and the fandom hadn’t turned me off – and I found this initial dose to be delightful, frankly.
I can’t wait to see what happens next.