Book Review – Saga Vol. 1 by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples

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Saga is the story of Marko and Alana, two warriors from opposite sides of a galactic conflict that fell in love and deserted the war. Now they’re on the run as both armies are trying to capture them.

Written by Brian K. Vaughan and artwork by Fiona Staples, this is a really crazy story that knows no limits. I’ve read some background about it and it seems that Vaughan is using this to put as many weird ideas as possible, things that are only possible in comic books. The result is a lot of things that have you shaking your head in astonishment, but it’s all grounded in one of the oldest stories of humanity’s history.

I really enjoyed it, and you can actually pick it up pretty cheaply. So far there have been three volumes released, I’m not sure how many are intended to be in the series as from what I’ve read it seems to be a labour of love from Vaughan, so it will probably last for as long as he wants to keep writing it. The strength of this books is that while the characters appear bizarre they are actually grounded in the familiar, so we can easily understand them, but there’s plenty of cool things, most of which I’m not going to spoil here, but one of my favourite characters is Prince Robot IV, a member of a race of….I guess they’re cyborgs. They have humanoid bodies but tv monitors for heads. That’s just an example of what you can expect when you pick this up.

This volume is used to introduce us to the world and the characters that inhabit it, but it’s very fast-paced and there’s not a lot of worldbuilding going on. It’s one of the advantages of comics that the images can be used to show us the state of things without having to resort to characters narrating big chunks of exposition. Everything looks cool and unique, and some of the reveals had me either laughing at the weirdness of it all or gasping in shock, as Vaughan weaves in dark moments along with the wackiness of it all.

It’s hard to describe Saga because it doesn’t look like anything I’ve ever read, but it does feel like things I’ve read before. And this isn’t a criticism, because the story it’s presenting is compelling and I definitely want to know more about the world and how things develop from where the first volume let off, but it does make it an very interesting experience as you’re confronted with so much but it all somehow makes sense. At certain points I was questioning my own sanity; ‘Should I be understanding this?

But I think it’s great. The artwork is smooth and there are so many different visuals it makes for a continually surprising experience, especially when coupled with the writing, and it makes for a read where you don’t know what is going to happen when you turn the page. Great start to a series and I recommend that you check it out, I don’t think it’ll be for everybody because some people might find some of the images and concepts distasteful, but it never feels like it’s done purely for the shock value. I like what Vaughan and Staples have started here and I’m looking forward to read on!

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