Visiting Trades: Saga (Volume 1)
I’ve written and written about how much I love Image Comics. I religiously pick-up every #1 issue they put out, because nine times out of ten, it’s something that I very much enjoy, and occasionally fall entirely in love with.
But I hadn’t read Saga. I hadn’t read Saga, yet.
Now I have.
It’s everything I love about Image rolled up into a beautiful, comfy ball that’s also kind of disgusting, but still in a cute way.
In a nutshell, Saga is about two parents of different of different races who fell in love in the middle of a galactic war that then had a baby, and how everyone wants to kill the baby. It’s a science-fiction fantasy epic of bombastic proportions. In a word: awesome.
I felt so many things as I worked my way through the first six chapters of Saga, and they were all delightful. The art is beautiful, the story original (seriously, it’s ridiculously original) and the characters affecting. It’s the type of story, that, as I read, I’m continuously and furiously confused and amazed at how somebody was able to come up with something so unique and dazzling.
Being that it’s Brian K. Vaughn, the quality and creativity can’t serve as much of a surprise. The brains behind Y: The Last Man (a piece about that is coming soon) and arguably more notably a writer, producer and editor for the mindfuck of a show Lost. He’s got three Eisner’s and also looks pretty good with a bald head.
But Vaughn is one of the best, if not the best, non-superhero comics writers (and a good and substantial argument could be made for best overall, but I don’t much feel like being the one to make it). This particular book is whimsical, epic, fantastic, daring and incredibly dense. There are a lot of characters, but not too many, and all of them have depth and memorable personality that makes it really, really annoyingly, hard to root against any one of them, even whilst constantly battling and chasing after one another.
This story was a particular joy to be able to read quickly through, and it was never bogged down by repetition or a plodding story. The book establishes characters with no pause and is constantly moving forward. There’s no Quentin Tarantino-ing (maybe Alan Moore-ing would be more fitting), where characters muse on and on about what it all means and internally explore the purpose of their actions. Vaughn moves the reader from Point A to Point B to Point C cleanly and deliberately.
But even Vaughn’s truly incredible work is overshadowed by what Fiona Staples does on the page. The art in these books is unlike any other. The general oddness of every component of the story, from a character with a screen for a face, to many that I can barely find adequate words to describe does not lend to successful artwork... unless the art is being done by Staples, in which case it would appear that pretty much whatever can be imagined can be effectively put to the page.
And it’s not just the characters that are so impressive. The worlds that the team created are vast and encapsulating. Despite the fact that the story bounces from planet to planet, each one has a different and effective feel to it.
Books like this are the reason that Image Comics is an important company for an important medium. Marvel and DC will always sell and they’ll continue to have nothing to worry about, but neither are the most essential comic book company, because neither will produce something like this, or something like Multiple Warheads. Image always will, and that’s why they’ll be more important.