Title: Saga, Volume 4
Author: Brian K. Vaughan
Illustrator: Fiona Staples
Publisher: Image Comics
Genre: Science Fiction
Rating: 4/5 stars
One of my many reading resolutions this year was “read more comics.” The “more” part is a bit dishonest because, apart from having read and loved Alan Moore’s Watchmen, I’m pretty much a complete comics neophyte. I read volumes 1-3 of Saga last year and enjoyed the hell out of them, so I figured volume 4 was as good a place to start as any.
The elevator pitch for Saga is “what if Romeo & Juliet took place in space but instead of being insipid whiney snots, R&J were total badasses, especially Juliet?” Alana and Marko are lovers from very different worlds whose races have been at war for ages. They fall in love, have a baby, and are on the run from a whole assortment of baddies (though, nobody’s really completely bad here – this is 2016 after all) chasing them across the galaxy. Volume 4 finds Alana, Marko, and their daughter Hazel regrouping on Gardenia, facing relationship and domestic problems, while their pursuers get closer and closer. It moves the plot forward solidly, we get quick check-ins with pretty much all of the great characters we’ve met along the way, and it ends with a doozy of cliffhanger.
Talking about the plot makes this all sound a bit like a run-of-the-mill sci-fi story being told serially. And truth be told, it’s nothing groundbreaking as far as plot, character, or theme go. Don’t get me wrong – each of those things is good (and occasionally great) throughout. The plot is zippy and twisty; the characters are well-drawn and compelling; and there are broader messages about war, racism, and class running throughout. All good stuff.
What’s really remarkable about Saga–the thing that (I think) is capturing the atypical comics reader like myself and many, many others–is the always unbelievably creative and imaginative world building. Reading Saga is a bit like watching the films of Hayao Miyazaki (but with a lot more violence, nudity, and sex). Every page brings some new, weird little detail about this world that is both delightful and a little disturbing: a race of human-like robots with televisions for heads; a spaceship made of a living tree; a romance novel authored by a cyclops; and, perhaps most importantly, this guy, who happens to herd giant quadruped walruses because OF COURSE:
Time to race to the library for volume 5!