Friday, March 15, 2013

Saga, Volume 1

Saga contains a story about star-crossed lovers in a science fiction setting. Alana, the winged woman on the cover, comes from the Coalition of Landfall, the largest planet in the galaxy, and she was a soldier responsible for guarding the soldier/political prisoner, Marko, pictured above with the ram horns. He comes from Landfall's moon Wreath, where his people are considered savages and upstarts. Before the book begins, they have met, fallen in love, and achieved the seemingly impossible and conceived a child.

The book begins with the throes of birth, and before we can get our bearings we are cast into a rich and complex world of intrigue and adventure. There are many amazing and fearful things to behold: robot royalty, hired killers with unusual pedigrees, ghosts, cats who can tell when people are lying, giant tortoises used for war, and magical wooden spaceships. This is not to say that this book is simply an array of "oh ain't that cool?" things, because it also has a good deal of excellent character work as well as a tight and intricate plot that mixes revelations with cliffhangers to great effect.

Those last features are hallmarks of award winning writer Brian K. Vaughan, whose other works Y: The Last Man and Ex Machina display a similar high level of craftsmanship. His collaborator on this series, artist Fiona Staples has won the 2011 Joe Shuster Award for Outstanding Cover Artist and shares her work on her tumblr and her blog. She is a master of showing emotion and also quite adept at pacing action with her storytelling skills. She speaks more about her career in this interview. Vaughan speaks extensively about his work on this series in this interview.

I felt this book was an exhilarating read, with so many fantastic and personal elements adding up to an excellent story that left me wanting more. I could inundate you with the praise this book has been getting, but I will just say that it is very well represented in Best of 2012 lists and give you these two reviews. It received a starred review from Publishers Weekly: "This is a completely addictive, human story that will leave readers desperately awaiting the next volume." The Onion AV Club praised the series, "Saga is the best kind of genre-bender, defying easy categorization but completely accessible to casual and long-time comics readers alike."

Saga is published by Image Comics. The entire first chapter is available for free from Comixology. It does contain adult situations, some nudity, and harsh language, so it is recommended for mature readers.

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