Image recently released the first collected edition of the new space opera/fantasy epic Saga, written by Brian K. Vaughan and illustrated by Fiona Staples. Saga tells the story of a young star-crossed newlywed couple on the run. Their home worlds are in perpetual conflict, but somehow, despite all odds, they have found each other and are on the run from their respective governments and societies who believe their love is an abomination.
The first issue opens with the birth of the couple’s child and is a brilliant introduction to these characters. Marko (Romeo with goat horns and mystical powers) is a recently devoted pacifist and former prison-of-war. Alana (a fairy-winged Juliet) is a tough chick with some major attitude.
The couple is being pursued by a host of various baddies. Prince Robot IV, blue-blood royalty with an old-school CRT for a head, is the primary pursuer from the Robot Kingdom. The Will, a bald mercenary monster and accompanied by his lie-detecting cat, is hired to kill the couple and bring their daughter back alive.
Comic fans may be familiar with other works of Brian K. Vaughan’s (Y: The Last Man, Ex Machina, Runaways). I am a huge fan of Y: The Last Man and own the entire series in trade paperback form. As much as I enjoy that series, I must say Saga is the best of Vaughan that I have read to date. Unencumbered by attempting to keep this a PG family-friendly book, Brian K. Vaughan’s writing is simply brilliant. Imagine if Star Wars were made by HBO. The story regularly includes sex, violence, and profanity that is titillating in this medium, but never seems gratuitous and complements the adult story-telling. His writing is also very funny, often shockingly so.
The story is told as a flashback and regularly narrated by Hazel, the couple’s daughter, told at some unknown point in the future. There are teases of things to come, which keep the reader guessing and engaged.
Fiona Staples’ artwork is simple and elegant and allows Vaughn’s characters to shine. Her artwork shows amazing character expression, as well as whimsy and originality in illustrating things never before seen in comics. I had the pleasure to speak with her briefly at New York Comic Con, and she expressed what fun illustrating this series has been for her. I can definitely see that, from seeing her illustrations of everything from kinky alien sex to monstrous aliens to star-crossed alien lovers falling asleep with their newborn.
This is the first review I have ever written and was challenged not to reveal too much to potential readers. As I thought back through the first trade, there are so many great moments, both shocking as well as personal and intimate, that fans will appreciate for years to come.
The first volume of Saga collects the first six issues and retails for $9.99. This is a great value as each individual issue retails for $2.99 each. Considering that the seventh issue has not yet been released, this allows a new reader to jump on board and get caught up quickly at a low investment cost, without having to track down pricey sold out back issues.
Overall Score: 9.5/10. Must read!