Saga, Vol I by Brian K. Vaughan – Review

Saga Vol I

Book Jacket:

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 New York Times bestselling writer Brian K. Vaughan (Y: The Last Man, Ex Machina) and critically acclaimed artist Fiona Staples (Mystery Society, North 40), 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.


Wacky, brutal, romantic, fresh, kinky, and downright epic, Saga is basically the new Farscape – so can I get a hell yeah?

Walk into any comics shop, and you’ll find someone who LOVES Saga – and I mean, it did win the Eisner, the Hugo for best graphic story, six Harvey awards, and… and… Now I’m as leery of the hype machine as the next fangirl/boy, but when I finally sat down to read this puppy (volume one, which includes the first six issues) I really and honestly just enjoyed the heck out of it. And the big reason why, the big secret of this comic’s success – and the thing that genre movies and TV shows so often seem to bypass – is that this story gave me people to care about. Yes, the war is indeed galactic, and there are spaceships and robots and aliens and magic – but what this book has, that so many others don’t, is character. Personality. A squishy, fallible human center (horns and wings notwithstanding) in the form of our main pair, Alana and Marko – a married couple who squabble and fight and drive each other crazy, even though they’re clearly crazy about each other. And so happily all the far-too-standard EPIC fare – i.e. star-crossed, insta, TitanicRomeo & Juliet style grist – was brilliantly eschewed in favor of good ole fashioned in-the-trenches relationship fun – so things like, you know, bad breath. Exes. Figuring out the whole baby thing. Deciding what the heck they’re supposed to do next. And oh yeah, throwing down on anyone who tries snuffing out their little family. (Happy sigh.) So yes, shippers, this one IS for you – this book gives us a couple to root for, a couple to care about, and all in all a reason to give a crap. This book has personality, plain and simple, and that’s why this series is so very fun.

And it must be said, this gift of personality comes courtesy of both Vaughan AND Staples – because holy moly the art is freaking fantastic. The nuance – the facial expressions, the body language, so small yet so powerfully telling – Staples just KILLS it. She is without doubt a big part of why these characters feel so real, even as all sorts of zany genre shit explodes around them – and it does get completely nuts. We’re talking spider-lady-assassins, lie-detector cats, tree-ships, vengeful ghosts, and more – but while yes, there is a robot prince who has a TV screen for a head, he’s also just the dude with his pants down, reading a romance novel in the bathroom. And so all the insanity of this story is grounded, brilliantly, by those character moments, and most of all by the biracial little family at the heart of this big, cold, ugly universe. (Again, think Farscape.) And that, THAT is what makes this book ridiculous, in the best possible sense.

So yes, Saga is indeed one big wacky space opera, chock full of robots, aliens, war, swearing, sex, guns, and blood – but always, always this story has a beating heart at its squishy center, and that’s what makes it hum. And so we get a story that does it all – it’s dark but still fun, dense but still light, offbeat but still epic, and all in all it’s just the real deal. This is the kind of genre goodness we just don’t get that often – and man oh man does it make for a fun ride.

And now, now I really need to go watch Farscape again… 

Byrt Grade: A

As Levar Burton used to say – you don’t have to take my word for it…

Fantasy Book Critic says:

If you’re not normally a graphic novel reader, Saga is for you. If you are a regular graphic novel reader and are tired of the same old, Saga is also for you.

Smart Bitches Trashy Books says:

Saga is the strangest, most twisted, perverse comic ever.  It’s also the sweetest, most romantic comic ever.  This is a story about a happily married couple, and a story in which the fate of many, many planets hinges on a romance novel.  It’s funny and touching, and I did mention strange and twisted?