Saga, Vol.1 by Brian Vaughan & Fiona Staples

[rating=4] Where to begin a review of ‘Saga’? The art. THE ART! Oh my heavens, the beautiful, lush, sketchy ink lines. That sensuous, alien colour palette. Those bizarre, freaky, nightmarish creatures. The fonts!

Our heroine Alana, looking a bit like a cocoa-skinned, green-haired Posh Spice, is easy on the eyes, as is her horny (in the literal sense) lover, Marco. Even hideous beings, like The Stalk, were visually captivating. Loved the attention to detail in varied lettering for different languages, phone calls, and thoughts.

Lots of folks say this is Romeo and Juliet meets Star Wars, but that is both oversimplifying and misleading. There is no Darth Vader here, no rebel alliance, no death star. There is war, and there is love, and there is someone dressed a bit like Han Solo, but she’s a chick with a Baby Bjorn strapped over her leather belt and blaster holster.

I’d like to talk about Vaughan’s bold gambit to tear his plot away from the stale, re-fried tropes of action-adventure comic book writing by including parenting as a core focus of his text.

I’d like to point out where he spits in the face of tradition, writing non-Asimovian robots with power, emotions, and the ability to procreate; a beautiful heroine who keeps her clothes on, only flashing her tits when she needs them for breast feeding (never fear, this is sci-fi; plenty o’ other naked boobies on display), and a decent (albeit undead) teenaged babysitter.

I’d like to discuss how he manages to write convincing dialogue for new parents, whose concerns parallel the conversations I hear in my daily life as a thirty-something. Except for the magic, monsters and bounty hunters, of course. And the talking cat. And the rocket ship treasure hunt. And the ghosts.

I’d sure like to talk about all that, but Fiona Staples has so blown me away with her lovely drawing, inking and colouring that I am having trouble focusing on anything else in this comic.

A nice first collection, although you can tell this is going to be a slow-moving epic that will require patience to grow and expand fully. I guess the title kind of gives that away, but plot development is going at about a Jeff Smith’s ‘Bone’ pace, so I suspect the arc length will run to about a dozen books total. Be prepared to commit if you like what you see.

Totally worth $10. Always happy to support women working in comics; many thanks to Ms. Staples for making it easy to love her work.

Note: This book contains graphic, nasty scenes of violence, sexual intercourse, childbirth and heavy intimations (not visually depicted, thankfully) of bestiality and pedophilia. Probably not a good purchase for your nine-year-old nephew or niece, unless you want his/her parents to hate you. But as a free-thinking, money-earning adult, you should totally buy a copy for yourself.

Final note: I have decided my nom-de-plume as a romance novelist will be D. Oswald Heist.

Other beautifully inked comics with strong female leads:

1) Jason Little’s ‘Shutterbug Follies’

2) Ted Naifeh’s ‘Courtney Crumrin and the Night Things’

3) Lise Myhre’s ‘Nemi’

4) Greg Rucka’s ‘Whiteout’

4 of 5 stars / bookshelves: read, sci-fi-fantasy, graphic-novel, 160 pages, Publisher: Image (2012)
Read on October 22, 2012

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