Monday, January 13, 2014

SAGA, VOLUME ONE by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples

Saga, Volume One (2013) collects the first six issues of the Image comic written by Brian K. Vaughan and illustrated by Fiona Staples. Here, two lovers whose people are at war attempt to flee the planet with their newborn baby.

Saga is an interesting and imaginative blend of science fiction and fantasy that calls to mind both Star Wars and Mass Effect, but which does so without feeling particularly derivative. Vaughan has created a cast of good characters, all with believable motivations. In fact, The Will and Prince Robot IV might be more interesting and more sympathetic than the wishy-washy Marko (although he gets better quickly) and the walking annoying rage tantrum that is Alana. The themes of parenting and family are particularly well done, though, which makes them endearing enough.  

Saga is consistently explicit, both in terms of violence and sex. At times, this is used to good storytelling effect (e.g., Prince Robot IV and his wife in issue #1), but more often, it’s just gratuitous. In combination with some of the dialogue, Saga sometimes feels like Vaughan is trying too hard to be edgy, and it works a lot better when he’s not.

Entirely apart from this issue, Staples’ art is quite good. Her characters are realistic, and she uses backgrounds to create a rich world. The highlight, though, is her faces, which are excellent both in their expression and consistency. The only real complaint with the art is that the heavy inks on the characters often make them look like paper cutouts overlaid on the much softer backgrounds.

So, while it’s got a few issues, Saga is a reasonably compelling story that’s rich with potential. I don’t know that I’d run out for Volume Two, but I was invested enough to wonder, at least, what happened next.