Review - Saga #1

Brian K. Vaughan has been on something of a hiatus when it comes to comics. Ever since Y: The Last Man and Ex Machina, Vaughan's talents have been absent from the medium. That makes his return that much more noticeable and, since its announcement at last year's San Diego Comic Con, Saga #1 is that return.

He's joined by artist Fiona Staples (you can't make comics without Staples according to her) and lettered by Fonografiks (Steven Hinch). The series is published by Image Comics and it's quite the comic.

Saga #1 is a story of war, love, trials and fears. Marko and Alana are giving birth to their first child in a world where people are viewed as crazy to do so. The love they share for each other (and their new daughter Hazel) is so intense that it has the power to get them through just about anything.

That anything includes the long-standing war between Landfall and Wreath, so encompassing that it's dragged other planets across the galaxy into it. This may be a love story at its core, but it's just as much a tale of the toll war takes on both the factions involved and the periphery civilizations.

Vaughan is treading on some pretty heady stuff here. Saga #1 includes all variety of characters, even robots with a proclivity for bedroom antics. They're imbued with such humanity though that they all have facets of the human psyche that make us human. Hope, fear, doubt, lying...these are all emotions that are on display.

What's more is that the narrator is Hazel, presumably an older and wiser version than the child depicted in the illustrations. She tells the tale with dramatic irony. She knows about all the woes her parents will face, but they're stumbling upon them as they try to raise her. She knows the true toll of the war despite it not having completely finished yet.

Because she seems to know everything that's going to happen, as a reader you're sort of thrown into it as well. George Lucas didn't explain to you what a Jawa was in Star Wars: A New Hope. You saw them salvaging robots and droids and figured that's what they do. It's no different in Saga. It's assumed you know what a "moonie" is, so your emotional investment in the tale is higher.

Staples has done a simply splendid job with the illustrations. There's an ethereal quality to her panels that makes this more than just a comic about war and love. Her work fully immerses you in the tale Vaughan has woven. There are tons of varied characters and you can only imagine what went through Staples' mind as she initially read Vaughan's scripts.

There are some scenes in Saga #1 which would make no sense whatsoever in other contexts. The way Staples does them though they fit in perfectly. The experience of the story isn't broken by the scenes seeming out of place. Her ability to capture what Vaughan described and tap into her own imagination gives panels that are simply breathtaking.

The lettering by Fonografiks even deserves mention. Traditional boxes are eschewed for narrative text that blends into the illustrations. It adds this feeling that there's someone telling you the story that knows how it all ends and is telling it with some sadness. Almost as if the narration is the fabric of the tale.

Saga #1 is a science fiction saga that will explore what it means to be human. All of this while there's nary a human in sight. It's truly imaginative and will have you questioning things you most likely never questioned before. You're hoping that both Marko and Alana make it, but as you read in the back of your mind you know something bad will happen.

That's certainly not to say you shouldn't read it because you know how it will end. The fact is you don't. And that's the most wonderful thing about Saga #1. You know it will be a painful journey for all involved, but you want to be there with the characters as they make that journey.

Saga #1 is in stores now and interiors are below.