Adam reads as many comics as he can afford. Every week he is going to attempt a mini review of his favourite one, with potential minor spoilers.
This week I’ve finally got around to reviewing an issue of Saga, by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples, from Image Comics. I’ve put it off for a while because the last few new issues of it have usually come out the same week as a new series, or the end of a series, which tends to make for a better review than the middle of a run that is still ongoing. However, as a general rule every issue of Saga is at least one of the best if not the best comic that comes out each month. This isn’t news. So many people have extolled the virtues of this series that they have retired praising it as something that is just assumed and is a waste of breath. This latest issue is no exception, so I’ll keep it brief.
Saga is the story of Alana, Marko and their daughter Hazel. Alana and Marko are from opposing sides in a long standing war between Landfall and its satellite moon Wreath, but they fell in love and ran away together. Pursued by agents from both armies, and other even more dangerous foes, the couple conceived a child together – Hazel. Throughout the series narration is provided by Hazel at some point in the future, as her parents try to stay ahead of the contract killer The Will and Prince Robot IV, and try to lay low while still attempting to raise their child, with the help of Izabel the ghost and Marko’s mother Klara. In issue #22, Alana sinks further into her reliance on drugs to get her through her job acting on the Open Circuit, a sort of trippy and nonsensical interactive soap opera, while Prince Robot IV returns to the Robot Kingdom to pay his respects to his wife, murdered by a mysterious radical named Dengo who kidnapped his new born son in the process. By the end of the issue it seems, not for the first time, that multiple characters will soon intersect again even if they don’t mean to, and it will almost certainly end badly.
The story of Saga is superb, and this issue is another great entry. I joined on a bit late, so caught up with the first 3 collected volumes during the brief hiatus for the series, and have been reading monthly since it came back about 4 issues ago. I can’t think of many other examples that I have read of a story setting the tone and creating a feeling of a very lived-in universe so quickly and in such a satisfying way. All of the craziness, every weird new species and character never feels ridiculous because it is sold so well. The device of having baby Hazel as the narrator from the start worried me a little bit, because it takes away a certain amount of peril for at least one character. You know that Hazel will survive at least to an age capable of eloquent speech and reflective thought. However, rarely does the narration betray any sense of ‘all’s well that ends well’ or assurance that any of the other characters will make it to whatever point in the future that Hazel talks to us from. Brian K. Vaughan even uses this device to foreshadow events before they happen in the most tantalising way. Fiona Staples’s art is gorgeous, bringing to life the weirdest looking lifeforms, the most tender moments and gruesome murders perfectly. The double page spread of King Robot is fantastic, as is the opening page with Isabel explaining to the infant Hazel that the universe was created by some sort of space empress breaking wind.
Just like everyone else, I’m going to say if you’re not reading Saga then you should be. Simply brilliant story and art. The first 18 issues are collected in 3 trade paperback volumes, with a few more out since then (or you can wait until later this year, when volume 4 will be out too). This is a series that is really worth checking out if you haven’t yet. As always, you can grab this issue in your local comic shop or online with whatever digital platform you want to use. In fact, I think the first issue may still be free digitally to see if you like it. That’s how I started on it!
Score: 9.5 Squares of Fadeaway out of 10