Published by Image Comics
2012 has been a great year for comics and in particular fresh new science fiction books . To the ranks of the mighty Manhattan Projects and Prophet we can now add Saga. Brian K. Vaughan is one of the great comic writers of the last decade. After leaving comics to try his hand at TV writing (on Lost) he has now returned to show us all how it’s done. Fiona Staples was nearly unknown to me (bar the covers for Brian Wood’s underrated DV8 miniseries from Wildstorm) but is an amazing artist whose unique style I want to see much more of.
Saga is just that. It begins with the birth of a baby. This infant then narrates the book while her parents are on the run from the separate and warring armies that they have deserted from. Dad (Marko) has horns, a sword he has sworn to never use again and can do magic. Mum (Alana) has wings, a heart-breaking gun and a ton of attitude.
Fiona Staples art is phenomenal. She manages to display a huge range of emotion with her characters and the wispy way she draws backgrounds serves to pop the figures forward and keep the focus on them. Good character design is one of my favourite things when done well. The many different characters and races in this book are all beautifully and thoughtfully designed with a hard-edged whimsy that develops the tone of this story well. It’s rare to see an artist just appear like this, fully developed and ready to tear it up.
Vaughan uses the galaxy spanning scope of this book to show a young couple work out what being a family will mean to them. Sure there are unicorn women, giant turtles battling spaceships, a sex planet and a rocket ship forest but that’s all just window dressing. These guys might have to learn about burping and breastfeeding their baby from a ghost, old girlfriends on a deathbed and watch out in case the in-laws teleport in with axes raised but isn’t that how it can feel to new parents anyway?
Aside from our young family the stand-out character of Saga is a ‘Freelancer’ or mercenary assassin called The Will, (it seems all freelancers are called The…something). He roams the galaxy killing people with a large Lying Cat as his sidekick. Lying Cat only seems to speak up when some one is lying, even if it is The Will.
Of course it’s not just the Will on their tail but also his ex…partner, The Stalk. Perhaps my favourite design of all the characters, she is one scary freak of an assassin.
If it matters, this is an adult book. The language is grown up and so is the content. If either of those things is a problem for you don’t read Saga. But then you would miss out on a truly exceptional comic book.
Because even with its mature content, it’s a book I would have loved as a 12-year-old, even as I didn’t understand very much of it. Because it’s about family and love and not settling for what life has thrown you. About showing your kids that they can reach for the stars. But more importantly it’s also about spaceships, swords and ghosts.
Should I buy it? This book will be on every best of list that is published for 2012 and probably for the next few years too. It’s new, it’s excellent and you will like it.
Next Week: As the year draws to a close I review one of the most enjoyable and well presented comics I have ever have the pleasure of reading. The colossal Fear Agent Volume One Hardcover.