Shame on me for waiting this long to finally dive in to this sci-fi/fantasy masterpiece. Saga, Volume One is one of the strongest graphic novels I’ve read, with wonderful writing, a fantastic story that clips along, deep and detailed characters, and beautiful artwork to drive the point home.
Saga tells the story of two lovers – Alana and Marko – from different, combative planets. It’s very Romeo & Juliet, frankly, but the story isn’t about them falling in love. Rather, it’s about their new infant girl, Hazel, who is born into a war-torn galaxy to fugitive parents. Alana and Marko are stuck on a planet that is filled with people hunting them and their mixed-species child, and they need to find a way off. They put their faith in an old map given to them by the very person that first betrayed them because they have nothing else to go on. This map promises a Rocket Ship Forest that looks like their only hope out, so that becomes their destination. Along the way, they meet all sorts of baddies, and their voyage is the entirety of this first volume.
Aside from telling a fascinating sci-fi and fantasy tale, Saga is also one of the most mature graphic novels I’ve had the pleasure of reading. Yes, there is plenty of nudity – which I’ll never complain about – but there is also a ton of adult themes, including dealing with parenthood, pedophilia, and all the grey area that comes between pure good and pure evil. That grey area is where the most detailed and interesting characters live in any good story. Saga’s writer, Brian K. Vaughan, understands that, and plants all of its characters right there, making them fully realized and fun as hell to follow.
The artwork by Fiona Staples is provocative, sexy, and willing to go places most in this art form won’t. Each of the main characters have very specific characteristics to their species that make them all memorable. I’ve just finished this graphic novel, but I’m certain I’ll have vivid memories of The Stalk – a sexy and scary tarantula/woman hybrid hitman – years down the road, to give just one example. The greatest panels, though, are the ones that take over the entirety of both pages. I’d love to own an oversized edition of this to really be able to breathe in all the beautiful work of these pages, but they’re no less effective in my standard paperback form. Staples’ work is gorgeous and always effective.
I’m smitten with Saga after just one volume (which contains issues #1-6 of this ongoing, monthly series that started back in 2012). I will certainly be continuing this beautiful story as soon as I can, and if you’ve shamefully been holding out on starting this for whatever reason, I highly recommend you do yourself the favor of grabbing volume one and seeing if it strikes you as hard as it did me. Saga – Volume One, at least – is simply stunning.