Saga, Volume 1 Review
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What do literally star-crossed lovers, robot monarchs with old-style televisions for heads, ghost nannies, freelance bounty hunters, and a Lying Cat (she knows when youíre lying, not that she liesóbut, well, she is a cat) have in common? Theyíre just a handful of the ingredients swirled together in the ongoing Image comic book series, Saga, from Brian K. Vaughn and Fiona Staples. Itís as epic as the title implies, and itís one of the best things youíll find on the rack today.

Saga is Hazelís story, and the first six issues cover roughly the first week or so of what promises to be a truly unique life. Her parents, Alana and Marko, come from the warring worlds of Landfall and Wreath. They met while Marko was a prisoner in the jail where Alana worked as a guard. Having fallen in love and both tired of the unending war, Alana helped Marko escape, and now forces from both technologically-advanced Landfall and magically-adept Wreath are after them and their newborn baby.

  
 
Much like he did in the Vertigo series, Y: The Last Man, Vaughn balances the epic with the intimate, sketching out a vast galactic backdrop while focusing on a rough start for two very unprepared parents. Thereís the confusion that you sometimes get with larger sci-fi and fantasy stories, and itís clear that itís going to take time to sort out whoís who and how everything interrelates. Thankfully, there are so many delightful character details emerging in each issue that itís easy to just go along with it. Along with Alana, Marko, and Hazel, we meet feisty ghost teen Izabel, reluctant Prince Robot IV, mercenary-for-hire The Will, and, of course, his Lying Cat. Each is given enough depth to support a series on their own (well, except Lying Cat, maybe).

Fiona Staplesís covers and interior art provide the other half of the appeal. She employs a lightly sketchy style that helps bring the disparate elements together without losing narrative drive or comprehensibility. This is important, considering the many wild ideas that Vaughn throws into the mix. One of the most visually compelling additions to the cast is The Stalk, another freelancer whoís a mix of centaur, giant spider, and supermodel. Staples manages to make her simultaneously appealing and solid nightmare fuel. She also perfectly captures character expressions, making the flow between dialogue and image feel almost seamless.

Make no mistake, Saga is a mature readerís title, and the content is more in line with Game of Thrones than Star Wars. Thereís graphic sex, violence, and a healthy sense of irreverence that frequently gets punctuated by much darker ideas. None of it comes off as especially exploitative or prurient, but anyone expecting a PG rating is in for a bit of a shock.

What Saga does best, however, is play to one of the unique strengths of the medium. It sets off on a grand story, the scale of which would break even the most liberal Hollywood budget, and it does so in a way that still includes a beautiful visual component. If youíre a fan of comics or sci-fi/fantasy epics like the Star Wars and Lord of the Rings series, you owe it to yourself to spend some time in the funny, dangerous, and utterly wild world that theyíve crafted.

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