It occurred to me that I've been sticking solely to reviewing tights-n-flights comic books, an oversight I'm correcting at once. To wit: Saga, by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples. It is bloody beautiful. (Spoilers below.)
Story Stuff You Should Know: War's been going on for generations between the planet Landfall, and its moon, Wreath. The former's got winged science fiction types, while the latter has horned, Esperanto-speaking magic users. They've been fighting so long, neither side can remember why, or when it started. Enter Alana (wings) and Marko (horns), a pair of soldiers who meet after Marko was captured, and fall in love. They ran off together to live in peace, and had a baby with both.
Meta Stuff You Should Know: Brian K. Vaughan's intentionally crafting one hell of a story to be completely unadaptable. There's nudity, swearing, and visceral violence. He doesn't want it to be anything but a comic, and that is fine by me. Vaughan and Staples are creating an entire universe of colorful races and cultures, and are blurring the lines between scifi, fantasy, fairy tales, and well, porn. It's kinda great.
Consider Yourself Warned: Oh yeah, characters die. Folks you like, too.
The first chapter begins with the birth of their little girl (eventually named Hazel). Alana gives birth in a body shop, while we get the 411 from journalistic narration from their little girl at some later date. In these first pages we learn that Alana is a bit crass, independent, and nurturing, while Marko is sensitive, strong, and a pacifist these days. Their blissful moment is shattered by the swift betrayal of a talking monkey.
You thought I was kidding. Saga's citizens come in all shapes and sizes. That blaster-fisted tube-head (sorry, is that racist?) on the left is a Robot, part of a noble race that commands the winged legions. I don't mean noble as in self-sacrificing, I mean noble as in blue bloods. They're royalty, and they'll be causing no end of trouble in issues to come.
This would be curtains for our brand new family, if not for the timely arrival of Marko's people, appearing in a fiery blast of magic. Fiona Staples' artwork does an amazing job of showing us the stakes: two sides, pretty evenly matched, with a family caught in the middle. She does all this in a single page. Cripes.
Staples can render anything Vaughan puts in the script, from a pair of star-crossed lovers in a deadly situation, to Robot royalty trying their damnedest to make a kid. Yeah. The comic makes abrupt turns from one focus point to the next. It's fantastic.
Enter Prince Robot IV: veteran, hero, and aspiring babydaddy. Word of Marko and Alana's marriage has reached King Robot III, who sees it as deeply disturbing. He tasks his son (via messenger) to "deal with" the rebel scum at once. From our first introduction, Robot IV is a clearly a man who has no desire to return to battle. He's no coward, he's just done his time and wants to settle down and start a family. Vaughan has a nasty habit of introducing antagonists that are all relatable, if not downright sympathetic.
Enter The Will and Lying Cat. (The 'The' is very important for freelancers. It's a thing.) The Will's just been hired to kill Marko and Alana, and bring in the bundle of joy, unharmed. The Will is resourceful, smart, and doesn't hesitate to kill— he just doesn't want to see life wasted. He's visibly upset at being forced to dispatch a towering giant with volcano breath for his 'audition'. And Lying Cat... well. Lying Cat is Lying Cat.
We return to our heroes, following a blood-stained map, only to stumble upon more strife: Landfall and Wreath are fighting, even on a remote rock like Cleave. It's more than Alana can handle, but Marko props her up with his optimism. They balance each other nicely.
Saga was my favorite new comic, last year. It's well-crafted, the world building at hand is insanely gorgeous, and it also has an adult charm that's quite refreshing. (It's no wonder Vaughan just won another Eisner for it.)
I'll be playing catch-up on Saga in the coming days, but you should definitely go out and grab up the first few TPBs. They're available wherever comics of outstanding quality are sold.
What do you think?