Monday, 7 July 2014

Saga Volume One by Brian K Vaughan and illustrated by Fiona Staples

Saga Volume One, written by Brian K Vaughan and illustrated by Fiona Staples, is the first volume in a science fantasy/space opera comic book series. First volume in the sense that it's the first trade collection of the first six individual issues. I picked it up because I've been hearing some good things about it (and some less good things that still made me curious) and because Volume 2, which I shall get to shortly, is on this year's Hugo shortlist for Best Graphic Story. Also Volume 1 won the same Hugo last year.
When two soldiers from opposite sides of a never-ending galactic war fall in love, they risk everything to bring a fragile new life into a dangerous old universe.

From New York Times bestselling writer Brian K. Vaughan (Y: The Last Man, Ex Machina) and critically acclaimed artist Fiona Staples (Mystery Society, North 40), Saga is the sweeping tale of one young family fighting to find their place in the worlds. Fantasy and science fiction are wed like never before in this sexy, subversive drama for adults.
The story opens with the baby on the cover being born and is lightly narrated by her future self. This opening volume sets up several story lines: there's the parents trying to keep their baby safe and not get themselves killed in the middle of a warzone, and there are two unrelated character groups trying to track them down and kill them (and capture the baby).

The story deals with forbidden love — the parents come from different races (who, obviously can interbreed) — particularly in the reactions of other characters when they are confronted with the couple. It's also pretty gritty, in that there's a lot of violence and hardly anyone is a nice person (although possibly not as literally bloody as grimdark fantasy, but I'm not so sure). Also there are a lot of boobs, some of them needless. Like the spider lady bounty hunter really didn't need to be topless (and as a bounty hunter, I have to wonder why it seemed like a good idea). By contrast, the only penises that appear are in the background on a (weird) prostitute planet, which still contains more boobs. If you didn't pick it up from the last few sentences, this is not really a PG read; it's definitely intended for adults.

So far, I'm enjoying the story, which is just as well because I already have volumes two and three ready to go. It's definitely aimed at SFF readers and I wouldn't call it anything other than science fantasy, genre-wise. (OK, I lied, I might also call it space opera, but I remain faintly confused about what space opera actually is.) There are some interesting species represented, like the robots that book completely human (to the point of reproducing the same way) except for having screens for faces. By contrast, the welcoming committee on the prostitute planet was a bit weird and alarming.

Saga seems not to be for the faint of heart, but it's not as dark as quite a lot of fantasy books I've read.

4 / 5 stars

First published: 2012, Image Comics
Series: Saga, Volume 1 of (ongoing?)
Format read: Paper! Gasp!
Source: Purchased from (Swedish retailer)

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