Brian K. Vaughan, Fiona Staples
Image Comics, 2012
Starcrossed lovers, Alana and Marko, are doing their best to raise their infant daughter, Hazel, while on the run from both sides of an endless, futile, intergalactic war. Officials of the various interested governments and a payroll full of mercenaries, all with their own agendas, pursue the fugitive family. And then things get weird.
Is flat out difficult to find, other than having the most undeservedly generic title imaginable. Unless perhaps you find the extent of the weirdness distracting, because it’s admittedly really, really weird. And while it’s not a downside for me, if you have any sort of distaste for any form of graphic content even when intelligently handled (as it is here), for the love of god, be advised, this is not for you.
The weirdness manages to be nowhere near as distracting as it probably should be. We’re talking rockets that grow on trees, spider-centaur bounty hunters, a guy named Prince Robot IV of the Robot Kingdom with a TV for a face sitting on a toilet in 18th century French military garb reading romance novels weird. But it all feels utterly natural, a fully formed, functioning universe that has no need to overexplain its minutiae. The most absurd images can’t help but feel normal when they’re normal to a cast of characters who are so vividly alive.
Alana and Marko’s love is passionate and steamy, but also frustrating, funny, and utterly undignified in ways anyone who’s ever been in a long-term romantic relationship will appreciate. They don’t love each other in the perfect, distant, abstract sort of way that so many fictional romantic figures do, but with a familiarity and intimacy that’s palpably captured.
As compelling as the stars are, the ensemble effect is even more impressive. Every thread, every mini-cast of characters bent on thwarting the central family’s happiness is set up with a level of detail and intrigue capable of carrying a solo series, with all the players convinced, as they should be, that the story is theirs.
The narration device, presenting Saga as a family history told by a grown up Hazel, successfully delivers the kind of thought-provoking one-liners that most narrator characters only embarrassingly and hollowly attempt, and maintains a steady level of suspense over who else, if anyone, will survive the story.
This is the part of the review where I’d usually conclude whether or not I’m interested in continuing with the series, but the answer is such a resounding “Oh my god, yes!” that in less than the week it took to get around to posting this review, I’ve already finished the other five volumes currently available and marked my calendar for the seventh. It’s seriously that good.
Separate reviews to follow for the subsequent volumes of this better-than-the-best-of-both-worlds lovechild of Star Wars and Game of Thrones that you absolutely must read now!
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