Saga is the totally beautiful, totally terrifying, realistic science fiction fantasy graphic novel series that has taken the world by storm. Set in a galaxy far far away, Saga blends sci-fi and fantasy in a mind-blowing way that I haven’t read in a long time. It is full of magic and monsters, spaceships and lasers and radically creative creatures and technology. Author Vaughan doesn’t get caught up in the logic of how and why, the universe simply is wacky (isn’t real life wacky too?) and the people in it are so believably flawed and beautiful that really, we readers barely blink at a spaceship-tree or a naked half-spider woman.
Perhaps this post is just slightly out of this month’s theme but this post has been a long time coming and all of Yuriy’s guest posts about Vaughan’s other works had me feeling like we just needed a quick snapshot and recommendation on Saga.
Basic Plot: We follow Marko and Alana, our Romeo and Juliet figures who just also happen to be new parents, as they flee a longstanding war between their peoples. Alana hails from Landfall, a planet whose inhabitants have wings on their backs and entlist mechanical weaponry (fae month anybody?), while Marko is from the moon Wreath, whose people all have horns on their heads and control magics. The war has touched the entire universe. Planets and peoples choose sides or are recruited, conquered or hired by one to fight the other. Every character we meet has in some way been impacted by this war.
Marko & Alana don’t necessarily ask for adventure and are certainly not merely “heros” caught in the Hero’s Journey (i.e. they aren’t out to put a stop to the war and bring peace to the universe), they are just people trying to be good parents, save their marriage and survive. They are forced to run and/or hide because they fell in love with a member of the opposing side and procreated–which brings us to the narrator of the story: Hazel. By issue #6 we still aren’t sure exactly why Hazel is so sought after by all factions, but we can intimate that a blended child is both rare and in some way powerful. It is quickly established that Marko and Alana can be eliminated but that Hazel is the true target perhaps because of what she represents: the potential for a peaceful union between the peoples. The young family venture across countless worlds, encounter many different folks, face battles both physical and mental, bounty hunters, and a ruthless robot that’s tracking them all down.
Why I love it: There are many reasons!
- As a new parent myself this story really strikes a chord with me. The most frightening and rewarding adventure of all is parenthood, and this story hits on that terrible sinking feeling that the world will never be good enough for our children, and that wonderful uplifting feeling that a child’s assuring smile can bring to a parent. Even if Marko and Alana successfully run and hide and keep Hazel safe . . . will she ever be safe if the universe remains wartorn? Does that matter if she’s happy?
- It is beautiful! Fiona Staples is one talented lady. She takes this high concept, incredibly detailed world and brings it to gruesome, grimy, exquisite life.
- The writing is funny, touching, loud when it has to be and eerily silent where necessary. The art of the graphic novel being fine-tuned here. It’s great.
- It’s kinda like Star Wars and it was also kinda inspired by Star Wars and I love Star Wars. If you love Star Wars you will enjoy this.
- It’s deeper than Star Wars which is refreshing. There is no evil Empire, no clear dark and light sides . . . just people doing the dirty deeds needed to survive. So . . . if you don’t love Star Wars because it’s a little too simplistic, predictable and unerringly positive, then you’ll love this.
I can’t think of any reasons for why you might not like Saga except that you don’t like graphic novels and/or science fiction fantasy–and if this is the case you probably didn’t even get this far into my post, so just do yourself a favour and pick this up at your local bookstore or library!
DISCLAIMER: Saga, if you can’t tell by the cover picture above is not an all ages read. Teens (13 or 14+), advanced readers and up! Parents, teachers and librarians, take a look through before recommending to young folk, better yet, read it yourselves and hold onto your copies until the kids in your life get to the age where this is an appropriate read :)