Saga is one of Image Comics biggest titles and its popularity only continues to grow with the success of the trades and just recently the merchandising. Nothing says “success” like a bunch of day one T-Shirt sales… lying. Anyways, Dustin has been reviewing this books solo from the beginning, but now we’re adding a new voice to the mix with Jordan. This dual review will be just like the group reviews, but with a longer opinion from the two writers/reviews. From then on out they’ll switch off review duties so be sure to check out the review and the series each month. Here’s a quick blurb about the issue from Image: Now that you've read the first two bestselling collections of SAGA, you're all caught up and ready to jump on the ongoing train with Chapter Thirteen, beginning an all-new monthly sci-fi/fantasy adventure, as Hazel and her parents head to the planet Quietus in search of cult romance novelist D. Oswald Heist.
It must be a great time writing for Saga, truly. If Brian K. Vaughan has half-as-good of a time writing this series as I do reading it he has to be one of the happiest men in employment. And the reasoning behind this fact is singular there are no rules. None. Anything goes. It seems the only qualifications to add an idea are 1.) It’s interesting or cool and 2.) It may make you smile. Inside of those two loose stipulations Saga is a right-brainer’s playground filled with the types of whacked-out characters, ideas and settings that filled my sketchbooks when I was a kid.
To balance that out the whole thing is delightfully vulgar. A Cyclops with a wistful beard the likes of which would be commonplace in many a kid`s story book spews obscenities at the protagonists while dressed in only a tattered robe and some sullied underpants. It’s impossible to know what to expect and I think that’s what makes this such a successful book, it pairs the crack-pot hyped-up-on-popsicles ideas of a 6th grade kid with levels of maturity that would make HBO blush and all around just defies conventions. Who says that unicorns and graphic interspecies sex don’t belong on the same pages?
This issue focuses primarily on two plot-lines stranded anti-hero The Will as he attempts to figure out how to deal with the newly inherited responsibility of caring for a child and deals with the death of his lover, The Stalk, who just can’t seem, even in death, to leave him be. Somewhere else in the galaxy Alana, Marko and the gang land on Quietus a place that, “Smells like second hand smoke from your first crush.” there they battle some shape shifting skeletons because, skeleton monsters are cool.
Saga is an adventure I look forward to each time an issue is released. It’s simple, entertaining and tantalizingly paced, with each issue both satisfying completely and leaving you dying for more. It never introduces too many characters or ideas or becomes convoluted in any way really. Saga knows what it is, even if the rest of us don’t really. And I don’t think any of us would have it any other way.
The thing about this series is that it hits you on two fronts. Everyone tends to focus on the narrative and the dialog, but they always seem to forget that the art is what is giving them the emotion and visual stimulant. Think of every argument the characters had; sure the dialog was sharp and angry, but I bet you remember the look on the character’s faces more than anything else. Staples does a tremendous job of crafting the visuals to the story and as much as the writing stands out, I think that subconsciously people are actually thinking of the art sometimes.
In a previous issue when Lying Cat was blown out into space the image was haunting and memorable not the dialog… okay I remember the dialog too, but that’s not the point. It’s scenes like that where Staples art is the thing people actually remember and confuse with the story. In this issue there aren’t as many break out moments with the art, but there is a depth to the emotion of the story that only the art brings out.
Now with all that said… the story is fucking great. Vaughan’s strength is that he doesn’t rely upon tired metaphors, but rather he creates new ones. As Jordan pointed out, “second-hand smoke from your first crush” is something very specific and while not everyone can relate to it, they can understand it. For that small percentage of the population that 100% relates with that statement, they’ll be taken on a trip through fond memories as they glaze over the next lines of the comic and ultimately go back to re-read them having processed nothing after the word “crush.” I envy them because that’s an incredible thing for a writer to be able to do for a reader. Granted I’ve had similar experiences while reading the series, but it’s the ones you don’t get that you want.
This issue does one other thing brilliantly; it makes it easy for new readers to jump on board. Sure it’s better for you to have simply picked up the first two trades, but Vaughan and Staples always manage to recap enough of the story that you’re never lost. Check it out if you haven’t and if you have and it still wasn’t for you… try it again. You might be surprised given enough time with the story.
Score: 5/5 and 5/5!
Writer: Brian K. Vaughan
Artist: Fiona Staples
Publisher: Image Comics
Release Date: 8/14/13