Friday, March 9, 2012

Saga #1

Writer: Brian K. Vaughan
Artist: Fiona Staples
Company: Image Comics

There are a lot of reasons for fans to be excited in the land of comics these days. It's almost as if we've seen some sort of resurgence in creator owned properties and there's no doubt that people are out there, craving and hunting for the next book that's going to knock their socks off. When word first hit about Saga, the excitement that I felt was off the charts. There was no doubt that a bit of worry was mixed in there, but even the possibility of a failure couldn't sway me from the simple and awesome fact that Brian Vaughan was coming back to comics. The man is responsible for some of my more favorite series and he's one of the few writers that seems to tackle any and every genre with a sense of gusto. With Y the Last Man we got our
post apocalyptic extravaganza, with Runaways we got a coming of age tale that spoke of kids dealing with having super villains for parents, and with Ex Machina we bore witness to the blending of the heroic and the political. These books, along with The Escapists, are great books. With a capital "G" by the way. I'm pleased to say that after experiencing this first issue, it would seem that Saga has a good chance of ending up on that list too.

Blending equal parts Sci-Fi and Magic, Saga is a big budget entertainment extravaganza, one with a chewy, heart filled center. There is so much going on in the 44 pages of this opening chapter. The sheer amount of world building that is accomplished is staggering. Warring nations, Family, TV headed aliens, Unicorn Women, Lying Cats, Love, Hate...The list could go on and on. More often than not with comics these days, the brevity of the work is becoming more and more apparent and its nice to find a book that has an abundance of meat on its bones and a world to get lost in. Like other authors, specifically Brandon Graham, Vaughan fully realizes this world and the way that it moves and breathes. It's a strange place that's filled with extreme and odd ideas and creatures, but none of it seems out of place or too out there. You can see the craft and its spectacular in its scope.

The other thing that Vaughan instantly sells you on are his characters. Alana and Marko, our main characters who are each members of alien races that have been trying to kill each other for thousands of years, are so well rounded. Their love and the hardships that they are facing and will face by being together and ultimately bringing another life (the narrator of the book) into such a world is illustrated through various ways. The dialogue carries Vaughan's traditional wit and has ability to sound real without being cheesy or artificial. It's also illustrated through action, which evens things out and allows for some great set pieces to come to life in the form of shoot-outs and battles.

Speaking of coming to life, let's talk about Fiona Staples' art for a moment. Her work on the book Mystery Society was the first thing that I saw from her and I was impressed with the level of talent that was on display. I figured that she was a pretty solid choice for this type of story, and I am glad to be right about it. Her edgy and slightly off-kilter realistic style works beautifully with Vaughan's storytelling. The nuances of emotion and being able to show that on a character's face in just the right way is a hard thing to do, but Staples does it time and time again in this first issue with a smile or a snarl that adds such weight and or humor to a scene. She also handles the bizarre and crafts it in a way that not only works for the story, but also in a way that is pleasing to the eye. It's weird to say that about a race of sentient televisions or horned men and winged women and a cat that slightly resembles Bubastis from Watchmen, but it's true.

So yes, adventure is coming for Marko and Alana and I couldn't think of a better team of creators than Vaughan and Staples to tell their story. It's a great first issue, one that should hit home for a lot of people with its humor and character driven plot.

This is an advance review. Saga hits comic book stores everywhere March 14.

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