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Review: Saga #1

Written by BD Montgomery on Wednesday, March 14 2012 and posted in Reviews

A review of the new Image book by BKV!

Comic Review Cover

Credits & Solicit Info:

Y: THE LAST MAN writer BRIAN K. VAUGHAN returns to comics with red-hot artist FIONA STAPLES for an all-new ONGOING SERIES!  Star Wars-style action collides with Game of Thrones-esque drama in this original sci-fi/fantasy epic for mature readers, as new parents Marko and Alana risk everything to raise their child amidst a never-ending galactic war. The adventure begins in a spectacular DOUBLE-SIZED FIRST ISSUE, with forty-four pages of story with no ads for the regular price of just $2.99!


First off, the cover? NOT the most mature/graphic thing in the book (They need some kind of award for 'use of a page turn for surprise'.  My reaction was not "Whoa! That guy has a TV for a head!") So as far as I'm concerned, breast-feeding on the cover is just effective advertising (as opposed to the title, which can't get more generic.)   I've heard some commentary that Saga is welcome because it is something new and different.   And yes, that is true, but it also isn't true. 
The pitch for Saga is simple:  What if you did Game of Thrones-- in space! With more magic! (Or alternately, What if you did Star Wars/Dune/Firefly for HBO? Also with magic.)   As I alluded above, part of this— the star-crossed lovers alone against the universe— works, and part—the grand space war epic—doesn't work (yet.)
Saga #1 opens with Alana and Marco, the star-crossed twenty-somethings, at the birth of their first child.   The couple is on the run from, well, everyone it seems, as they are soon attacked by parties from what I take are both sides of the ongoing interstellar war.  The couples' interaction and banter are the parts that work best and seem most genuine. (Your mileage will vary, according to your tolerance for their certain type of twenty-something banter.)  The added captions from their (older) new daughter give the most scope to the narrative. 
Meanwhile, the planet Landfall and its moon Wreath are locked in what appears to be a forever war.  Not wanting to wreck their own neighborhood (being a planet-moon system they are gravitationally tied together) they have farmed the war out to other planets across the galaxy.  Exactly how isn't clear; I'd think you'd need either a large military empire or a LOT of money to outsource a war, and I didn't get a sense of either of those here.  That is a symptom of why these parts of the book don't quite work.  I can still see the seams where then different science fiction/fantasy elements were combined and stitched together.
The reason that Lord of the Rings works so well is that Tolkien created all of Middle Earth before he wrote any stories set there. (There are reams of material about the place that he never used in the books.)  This makes Middle Earth feel real in a way that the world in Saga just doesn't.
In Saga I can see the various genre elements and their lineage, like parts of other sets that have been appropriated and recreated here.   This world doesn't feel real yet, though as the story continues it could- I'd hope that that the behind the scenes work is already being done, even if we never see it on the page.
The art, however, is great.  Just looking at the pictures, this is a beautiful book.  The characters and settings are both very well done- there's an expanded panorama towards the end of the book that is damn near breathtaking. (It does more to establish the scope of the space war that anything in the narrative.)  The style is a nice mix of the realistic, with a heavier line that supports the grittiness of the war, and the animated, which really helps sell the more fantastic elements.    It's really nice work.
Bottom Line: This could be the next great space epic.  Or it could be Firefly.  Or The Event.  The (main) characters are promising but the world just isn't realized enough (yet.)

Review by: BD Montgomery

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About the Author - Christian

Christian is the exasperated Abbott to the Outhouse's Costello. When he's not yelling at the Newsroom for upsetting readers or complaining to his wife about why the Internet is stupid, he sits in his dingy business office trying to find new ways to make the site earn money. Christian is also the only person in history stupid enough to moderate two comic book forums at once.


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