Comic Close-up #3 : Saga (pt. 1)

250px-Saga1coverByFionaStaplesSeptember 15th marks the release of Saga Volume 5, and so, a post seemed fitting. Saga is my absolute favorite comic book. The pending release of volume 5 drove me to purchase Saga Book One, the deluxe hardcover edition, and give the series a thorough and much-needed reread. Naturally, rereading the series left me with a lot to say but I wanted to create a post for those of you have never read Saga.

Consider this the Deluxe Edition of Comic Close-Up: Part 1 (this post): traditional comic close-up geared towards those of you who aren’t familiar with the franchise. Part 2 (coming soon): What I got from (re)reading Saga Book One but mostly just a polished nerd-out about my feelings towards the franchise. And now that the logistics are out of the way, let’s get to it…

ABOUT THE COMIC

Saga is written by Brian K. Vaughan, illustrated by Fiona Staples, and published by Image Comics. Saga was first described to me as “racial conflict, with space and magic.” And that’s precisely what it is: the story of two (now ex-) soldiers [Alana and Marko] from opposite sides of a never-ending galactic war. Together, they are desperately trying to keep their newborn girl alive as the government/bounty hunters pursue them.

WHY I…
love it to no end.

Narrative voice

We are introduced to the narrator, Marko and Alana’s daughter: Hazel, immediately; she has the first line in the very first issue “this is how an idea becomes real.” However, we don’t realize it’s her until a few pages later when she says “Anyway, this is the day I was born.” Although Hazel is a character in the story itself, she serves as a “commentator” narrator: “freely adds in his own amusing commentary. Allows voice without the complication of using an existing character” (Orges, The 7 Narrator Types).

This narration provides context for the reader and, more so, adds humor and depth. Hazel’s voice is charmingly blunt: creating moments of humor in a dark story line. She’s also very wise: her commentary provides a stepping stone for the reader to process the comic on a deeper level.
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Realness
Characters die like nothing. I know in this George R.R. Martin era some of you may see these deaths as child’s play, but I was really moved/surprised by them. There were quite a few moments where a character was in peril and I was like, “okay, how do they turn this around?… oh… really?… damn.” I appreciated this though. So many stories always have “the good guys” overcome but sometimes, especially in war, letting them die is the most honest thing you can do.

In addition to deaths, I appreciate Saga’s realness when it comes to relationships. Marko and Alana’s relationship is heart-warming but not without its issues.

Humor
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Character development

Furthermore, though many characters fall into archetypes (Alana is the female badass who’s overtly sexual, Marko is her sensitive male counterpart, The Will is the strong silent type, etc), they stretch beyond their archetypes. Alana has soft moments and Marko can be quite violent. And our antagonists aren’t “bad” people. We see The Will take moral stances and his relationship with The Stalk reveals his vulnerability. Gwendolyn initially comes off as the world’s most bitter ex, but she gains depth and even sympathy.

Stunning visuals
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RECOMMENDED FOR…

Everyone. Yes. I wish I could narrow it down but I honestly can’t imagine anyone not liking this so I can’t think about who it’d be best for. I will say this: it took me a while to get into the first volume. I read part of it then stopped. A few months later I tried again and loved it. The only explanation I have is that the fantastical elements took me a while to grasp on to because it was my first comic.

In closing, this is the perfect time to fall in love with this young, well-crafted series… one that’s epicness warrants its name: Saga.

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