I first learned about Saga through some of the pages I am a member of on social media and saw other members uploading panel pictures and praising this book as something the industry has been needing for years. I had not heard Image were planning to come with something big in ages and missed the first run but then again I am biased. To this humble blogger their best work will always be their franchise player, Al Simmons aka Spawn (something I recommend to anybody looking for a darker comic and anti-hero dishing out tons of carnage). Image developed a reputation for publishing the books the other big companies shied away from.
When I decided to do some research it seemed to be a Space Opera meets Fantasy as you have two protagonists fleeing with a baby across space while being chased by the two of biggest armies in the universe. Did not seem too original, granted, I still decided to keep digging and especially with all the great reviews I had read. I learned that the writer, Brian K. Vaughn had worked for both DC and Marvel comics in his career, writing for X-men, Green Lantern, Batman, Spider-man and Captain America. As well as working with big names in the world of comics he also worked on 3 seasons of ABCs smash ‘Lost’ and worked on Showtimes adaptation of Stephen Kings ‘Under The Dome’ I was surprised to see that his illustrative counter part and partner in comics, Fiona Staples was nowhere near his status or caliber. When I was googling her and trying to find out more about her I did not see her tied to any of the major titles or franchises.
It was not until I was in Comics Heaven in Stockholm when I managed to get my hands on a hard copy and immediately fell in love with the artwork. It looked good and my research told me what the story was supposed to go like. I avoid reading spoilers for anything including comics as to best experience the book. I read the volume in one sitting and was immediately hooked by the first chapter. The way Vaughn created this interesting setting with far from perfect characters was interesting. The conflicts and set up is done just right and the subject matter is not for kids. One of my favorite characters has got to be the Freelance ‘The Stalk”. The adult content of the panels was refreshing to see coming from a big publisher but it was not cheap if you understand what I am getting at. They did not use nudity of obscenities to mask a poor plot, it all comes together like a great stew sprinkled with just enough to make it a hearty read. The 13 awards the book received in 2013 only reinforces my claim of the quality of this first installment.
It was interesting to me how the writer managed to create these characters who did fit certain RPG archetypes yet managed to have them come off as unique to his setting. The language used by the different players in this grim universe adds a dose of reality along with slight twists that actually make sense. Not being a big fan of campy comics I see myself continuing to read this series.
The things I did not like was the lack of explanations for humans, it appears that regular humans do not seem to play a big role in this setting and I sadly cannot divulge much more without spoiling the first issue. The coloring at times seemed a little dull but not enough to put you off from reading. I do see the coloring as an aid for setting the tone but still I would have preferred different palettes for some of the scenes. Now a minor warning to some, this is not capes and chaos but rather a mash up of several modern genres by splicing together high sci fi, low fantasy, intrigue and a hefty load of dystopia.
All in all I give this first volume:
7.5 out of 10
Conclusion: Saga has succeeded in being a fresh and did manage to get the comic community talking and has maintained it fanbase and following years after the release. When other books fizzle out or fail to keep the pacing Vaughn managed to script a book that reads like a movie and Staples delivers panels that match that narrative. People coming to this book will have a different experience from the usual and I urge those who enjoy Sandman and Preacher to skim through some of the pages as it is not the run of the mill book.
So until next time, never dog ear your pages when there is always a receipt lying around to be used as bookmark. Just be sure it is not the bill from the BDSM spot you went to last week.