saga, volume 1

I see buzz on Twitter about the Saga comic series when it wins awards – and each collected graphic novel volume seems to win several apiece.  It sometimes feels like a year-round buzz cycle (in fact, the only comic my feed loves more is Ms. Marvel. which, for the record, I also enjoyed).  It was inevitable that I’d finally take a look, especially when I realized that there was good female representation and the premise was “journey in space.” I picked up Saga, Volume 1 by Brian K. Vaughan and illustrated by Fiona Staples after I saw a great deal in the Book Riot email list, so I now know what all the fuss is about.

saga by brian k. vaughn cover
When two soldiers from opposite sides of a never-ending galactic war fall in love, they risk everything to bring a fragile new life into a dangerous old universe.

From bestselling writer Brian K. Vaughan, Saga is the sweeping tale of one young family fighting to find their place in the worlds. Fantasy and science fiction are wed like never before in this sexy, subversive drama for adults.

Brian K. Vaughan has created an adult comic (I feel like I have to clarify that it’s adult, because YA is my default expectation for this space) for fans of science fiction, star-crossed love and action adventure.  The first volume has a lot going on: birth, death, berserker rages, interspecies conflict, a sex planet, ghosts, crazy spaceships, and a life-changing romance novel (that bit made me laugh)(in a good way).

This comic does a lot of things well: multiple threads of story tied into the main plot line via an unusual omniscient narrator, exciting visuals, star-crossed love just fighting to survive, and humorous dialogue throughout.  It is also a set-up for a wide-ranging epic, but the volume has enough skirmishes, close calls, and surprises to make it satisfying and interesting as a standalone.

That said, I was not impressed by main heroine Alana’s dialogue. Whether it fits the character in the context of the series or not, I can’t say.  I was just disappointed to read pages of the jealous/nagging wife cliché when there were other more interesting (and life-threatening!) things going on at the same time.  So that bit into my enjoyment – and I am going to skip reading further volumes.  The one plot thread that really got its hooks into me was that of the Robot Prince – I thought the robot royal characters seemed really innovative and suited to the comics medium.

If you’ve been thinking you’d like to “try” comics, like science fiction, and don’t care for superheroes, Saga is a good place to start.  Just be aware that this first volume pulls no punches – it’s R-rated.  And if you’re more of a fantasy fan, I’d suggest starting out with Bill Willingham’s Fables.

Recommended for: comics newbies and veterans alike – basically anyone interested in a complex space adventure with enough action to keep the story moving and enough depth to hook most readers for the long haul.


Shooting Stars Mag said...

That's great you gave this a chance, but I'm sorry to hear you don't want to continue one! I really do love these graphic novels, but they are definitely NOT for everyone haha


Ryan said...

I started the Fables series, years ago, but didn't like it as much as I wanted to. This one doesn't sound like it would be something I would enjoy either.

Jenny @ Reading the End said...

Oh really did you think? About Alana's dialogue? I didn't get that feeling about her at all, but maybe I should go back and reread. I thought she and Marko were just about equal in, er, making poor decisions and fussing at each other for making poor decisions (again, it's been a while since I read the first volume so I could be forgetting stuff).

Cecelia said...

Jenny: I did, but I may have been extra sensitive about that. I put the book down and picked it up multiple times because I wasn't feeling the story, and I happened to make that note after picking it back up and realizing that 4-5 pages were all Alana and the "other wife" upset. Your note made me think that perhaps I judged too harshly - I know that I'm sensitive about male writers writing women anyway. Also, your note made me realize that I spelled her name wrong all the way through my review, so... how much attention was I paying, anyway?!! I've fixed it now. Thanks for your thoughtful comment!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for this thorough review Cecelia. Graphic novels are one of my weak spots for Reader Advisory at work so I'm trying to get better about it. But I also don't really love reading comics so it's a tedious process. I appreciate this rundown!

Shooting Stars Mag said...

p.s. I wanted to write you back for my comment! You're going to BEA? That's awesome! I'd love to meet you!!! Thanks for the tip about the LGBT book. I have the signing written down so I hope I can make it! The book sounds great.

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