Author: Brian K. Vaughn
Artist: Fiona Staples
Genre: Sci-Fi, Fantasy
Publisher: Image Comics
My Thoughts: I’ll admit, I’ve never been particularly interested in graphic novels. I explored a bit of manga when I was younger but never got attached, and I learned of Saga by accident one day when I was furiously perusing goodreads for fantasy books with protagonists of color. A month ago, I finally impulse bought it on a trip to a local comic book store, and now I’m going to have to make a special place on my bookshelf for a new graphic novel collection. Because Saga is a game-changer.
Saga tells the story of Alana and Marko, fugitives from Landfall and Wreath, a planet and its moon, that have been warring for centuries. This war has been going on for so long that it has spread to other planets throughout the universe. So once word of Marko and Alana marrying and having a child gets out, they find themselves surrounded by their enemies with almost nowhere to go. Thus, they must work to protect their child and each other in a galaxy where they are hunted by assassins, armies, and a host of other monsters.
Vaughn and Staples are a power team. The writing and artwork compliment each other exceptionally well, and the characters are as well drawn was they are fleshed out. While the story begins with Alana and Marko, it also follows several of their bounty hunters, adding a new layer of complexity and sympathy for the antagonists. The dialogue is fresh, witty and oftentimes humorous. Although the premise might sound familiar, the world is anything but. This isn’t just a forbidden love story. It’s a forbidden love story on crack. With a dash of heroin. Saga may very well be one of the most bizarre worlds you will ever enter, but it’s strange and imaginative quality, it’s utter disregard for normal fantastical conventions, is where I think it shines the most. Reading Saga is an enjoyable experience because Vaughn and Staples don’t hold back. And what better way to show this than with some of the artwork?
And that’s not even the strangest of it all. But don’t worry, there’s also stuff like this:
While both volumes are excellent, I will say that I enjoyed volume one a bit more if only because it provided a great introduction to this world and characters had me awed throughout the entire issue. The second volume took a bit of a slower turn, but with the trade-off of a new, intriguing character and an awesome and evil cliffhanger. Luckily, I’ve already got my hands on the next volume.
(+) fantasy setting featuring characters of color (and more than just one, too!)
(+) the banter between Alana and Marko and their absolute adoration of each other and baby Hazel
(+) the characters Izabel and The Will
(-) a bit heavy on the gore side. I can’t help it, I don’t like blood.
Grandma Disapproval Level (aka gore and explicit content): 4/5 (high). Contains head smashing (literally), limb tearing, exposed intestines, blood… it’s not every other page, but it’s there. And while it’s certainly not porn, there are depictions of sex in both comics, the first one featuring a detour to a sex planet (nope, you didn’t read that wrong). Keep this one away from Nana!
Similar to: Star Wars on crack, Romeo and Juliette with less bullshit, Firefly with a twist
Read this next if…: You’re the type of person who loves fantasy and sci-fi and wants a more visual reading experience of it. You’re new to the world of graphic novels and okay with the content described above. You like gritty plots with high stake action. You breathe oxygen.