[disclaimer: Saga contains mature themes and content and is not for children. also this article has spoilers in it.]
I've heard it said by just about everybody that Saga is like Star Wars only better.
I am here to tell you that it is better. But not “like”.
Saga is Star Wars, except visceral and heartfelt in all the ways everybody wishes Star Wars was. It's not a wildly intricate plot, nor one of vast scope or scale, nor one of any lofty message. Sure, it has elements of intrigue and heavy-minded contemplation. But in essence, Saga is pure adventure. It is a ramble through space and danger, with all the important things happening in the background of the immediate story: the journey of a baby named Hazel, and her [insufferably human] alien parents Marko and Alana.
This is a whimsical fairy tale for adults who enjoy the high-minded ideas and wonderful weirdness of great science fiction without the preach and without the pretense. Brian K. Vaughan, acclaimed creator of Y: the Last Man, is a master of fusing the wildly fantastical with the frighteningly intimate. Although mature in the content portrayed, Saga engenders the youthful spirit of curiosity and bravery most of us left behind before we hit junior high. In short, no lover of truly unique and personal characters can afford to pass up Saga.
The art of Fiona Staples, bold in color and vivid in emotion as in all issues so far, has helped the book to stand out, sculpting an already beautiful story into a fully dimensioned fantasy. The simplistic perfection of the atmosphere and environments—mostly through color rather than detail—makes Saga gorgeous to look at, as well as easy to understand as a visual progression of events. Greg Capullo is still my favorite breakout artist of 2012, but Staples runs a close second.
The eighth issue gives us something most of us have been wanting to see since issue #1: a flashback to Marko and Alana's first encounter. It's as hilariously, realistically unromantic as you hoped. Vaughan's slow reveal of each character's backstory is a device that will keep me reading if for no other reason than it's funny and it's sincere in its levity. With a series that swerves from grave to lighthearted in so many ways and so rapidly, it's good to see that, for all its gravitas, it is never bleak.
Something else to be excited about is the integration of Marko's warlike parents into the plot. Seeing Alana and her father-in-law, Barr, experience a connection that for the first time transcends their innate racial hatred of one another is astounding and poignant. It's a plot we don't see in many stories anymore: under any circumstance, against any obstacle, no matter what... love conquers hate. THAT is beautiful storytelling. THAT is a masterpiece in and of itself.
Is it cliché to deliver a glowing review of Saga? Almost certainly.
Am I doing it anyway? Unapologetically yes.
Do I have to be more explicit? Even if you collect no other comic, BUY SAGA. Among other Image titles, this one is no less the pioneer and paradigm than Spawn was in its time, with one significant difference: aside from being one of the most beautiful and accessible works of art in the comic book industry, Saga is enduringly good. No matter how many times you read it, no matter how mature you are, anyone can enjoy Saga.
I love Saga for being full of hope and joy in the midst of chaos and death. I love the characters that love each other, realistically getting into fights and venting their annoyances and narrowly avoiding certain death together. I love that the story can feature things like a lie-detecting cat, people with televisions for heads and a gigantic troll named Fard without seeming slapstick. I love the feeling of discovering a truly new, truly unique fantasy so entirely innovative it swallows my imagination whole. And I love being able to unashamedly lose myself in a comic like this, if for only a few pages once a month, and to fly in my living wooden rocketship to see those far-flung stars.