Comic Review – Saga Volume 1 Trade Paperback

Saga Volume 1: Issues 1# – 6#.

I saw issues of Saga sitting on comic store shelves throughout 2012. I was impressed by it’s solid cover art: a background colour with a single character or object striking an awesome pose.

The cover art of Issue #1, which was used for the trade paperback, provoked me. I kept thinking, what are these two staring at? Are they aliens, or is this a fantasy story?

It turns out Saga is both, and they are looking out for their daughter, the baby.

Saga bends genre, and mixes up humour, violence, fantasy, and science fiction with themes of family and freedom up against hatred and war.  Brian K Vaughn deftly crafts a tale of adventure around the themes, and knows how to write consistent and layered characters.

 Saga is about a family, but this an adult oriented story with strong language, stronger themes, and often explicit art. That’s the only weakness I can see – Similar to series such as A Game of Thrones,  the story is for mature readers only.

It does not hold back with violence and viscera at times. It’s depiction of childbirth is earthy. Artist Fiona Staples does not shy away from illustrating sexual or violent content.

To introduce the characters, Marko and Alana  are new parents of their daughter Hazel. Marko, the man with the ram horns below, hails from a moon called Wreath, which orbits a planet called Landfall. Since Alana is a native of Landfall, she has a pair of wings. Their daughter has both wings and horns. This is unfortunate, as both Wreath and Landfall have a deep seated hatred of each other, and are currently at war.

Saga: The Art

When Wreath and Landfall are first introduced, the scenes of the two planets in space capture a sense of vastness and beauty. Two spheres, a moon and planet suspended in blackness, circle each other, partially illuminated by a distant sun while stars glimmer around them. It’s hard to believe the worlds are at war considering the space around them is empty and tranquil.

Alana  has outrageous facial expressions, which are accompanied by the best one liner jokes. Through character facial expression, the art conveys humour throughout the comic.

Of course, the new family are hunted by soldiers on both sides of the war. There is no refuge for them as they run from the powerful Landfall army, A Robot prince named Robot Prince IV (Roman numerals for number 4), and two “Freelancer” mercenaries called The Will  and  The Stalk. 

I am a fan of The Will who has an excellent visual design. Fiona Staples’ design choices build layers to his character.

The way he dresses and the company he keeps all represent broken ideals and jaded disillusionment. His blue and red super hero cape is tattered and frayed. He is haggard, and scarred. His pet/partner Lying Cat is a living lie detector. Trust is therefore not something The Will  relies on. All these visual cues tell his story: he had ideals, and strong morals, but has been trampled down by harsh circumstances.

Space in each panel is managed well, giving Saga  a clean and uncluttered feel overall. The comic is packed with detail, but details unfold slowly, and it feels as though each panel in the comic has space to breath. There are several small, visual surprises throughout the comic, which serve to build the science fiction world and entertain.

Saga: A bit more on the Story

Clashes and ideals are a key part of SagaMarko  swears to give up a life of violence as a soldier, renouncing his sword to become a father for Hazel. All the side characters seem to be grappling with how their ideals will match of clash with the universe at war they are living in. Prince Robot IV  is facing the same challenges Marko faces: defy authority and raise his family, or do as authority bids, and go to war. This comic deserves it’s accolades, and is a sublime tale for mature readers.

Saga Volume 1, a trade paperback collecting issues 1# – 6# is published by Image Comics.

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