An advanced review of the hotly anticipated Saga series coming from BKV!
We open with breastfeeding. Yep. There is a woman with wings, holding a gun and breastfeeding on the cover of Saga #1. As perplexing as this image alone would be, it's only compounded by a handsome man with curled horns, guardedly embracing her while reaching for his sword. Yet at the same time, this single bizarre image sets the tone for the whole issue.[Editor's Note: The reviewer is a relative comic newb and missed the breastfeeding controversy stemming from the aforementioned image last month.] There are monkey-men, giant fire breathing turtles, and royalty who have TV sets for heads. If you are into Fantasy or have a high threshold for weird things, this is probably a good choice for you.
The story starts off with the birth of our narrator, Hazel. Her parents Alana and Marko are members of two different species that have been at war with each other since the dawn of time, or at least before anyone can remember. Strangely enough, rather than following the form of battle that we (as humans) are used to, this war has spread across their galaxy, even in lands the warring beings did not originate from. From a purely "resource and homeland preservation" standpoint, this is an interesting approach to a war; but as the story unfolds, the drawbacks are revealed.
Marko and Alana are discovered immediately after Hazel's birth by both the Coalition Forces Alana abandoned and Marko's family. The meeting obviously doesn't go well, and the couple flees to the sewers. As it turns out, the owner of the shop they were staying in had sold them out, despite the fact they had rented it from him for the entire weekend. What's even more surprising is that the shop owner uses his reward money to buy the couple a map to a Rocket Ship Forest; and although this area is considered a myth, Alana latches on to the hope of escape, and ultimately freedom. Along the way, we discover that their governments are hunting the new family in an attempt to keep both their union and Hazel's birth a secret.
In this strange world there is a constant dichotomy between technology and magic. The two worlds at war utilize both of these to the utmost- even to the point of robots being similar to cyborgs, rather than simply machines. We can see how this impacts the galaxy's politics, as somehow these robots have come to power in their own right, and even have a royal family, who are joining in by sending their Prince Robot IV after the fugitives.
Each facet of the story reveals different types of creatures, whether as part of the actual plot or integrated into the backdrop. At the very least, the artistic work is interesting because it illustrates these strange creatures and how they play their individual roles in society. Each panel also reveals different aspects of the technology encountered by the habitants of Landfall (Alana's home planet) and the use of magic for the people of the moon Wreath (Marko's home planet). Although it's just barely introduced, the magic and technology from the very start prove how powerful they are separately, yet ultimately they are equally matched. This obstacle isn't discussed at length, but it's made clear from Marko and Alana's opinions that there are people (including them) who oppose the war and the damage it's caused.
Overall the story gives just enough of a taste of the overall plot and the background of the characters to spark curiosity. The characters are likeable, complex, and clearly driven by a desire to find a place where their child can have a chance to grow up without the oppression of war and hatred. The pacing is fast, but takes enough time to cover the different plot points and subplots thoroughly; it reveals the key characters to the point where the reader actually develops a connection with them.
Although the overarching plot is generic, particularly in the genres of Sci-Fi and Fantasy, this particular story feels fresh. Yet it is not so entirely different that those familiar with these genres and tropes will run screaming back to their 'happy place,' whatever subset of comics that may be. There is plenty of intergalactic exploration, magic, advanced technology, strange beings, and adventure to keep a reader's interest. Additionally, the omnipresent narrator alludes to some interesting plot twists to come. These small nuances, coupled with the compelling characters, leave enough at the end of the issue to incite interest toward what is yet to come. In any business, that is the key to getting a repeat customer- and this reviewer is already excited for Issue #2.
Saga #1 comes out March 14th.
Written or Contributed by: Sarah Sed, Outhouse Contributor