Written by Guest Contributor: Jordan North Nothing makes sense and everything is perfect. It’s a sentence that contradicts itself. That out of paradox, a naturally twisted thing, could arise something so wonderful. Saga doesn’t care about any of that. It’s gonna do its weird thing, and as a matter of fact, that weird thing will very probably be better than your thing. Any day. All day. On paper it doesn’t work. And Saga doesn’t care about that either.
After a couple of slower issues this past month or so this book hits the ground running. No, it doesn’t necessarily have giant space battles or really even any battles at all for that matter but what it is chock full of is wonderful--often outright brilliant--character moments that propel the story forward and do a spiffy job of digging in deeper my roots or care about these characters; even the nasty ones.
It’s here that Brian K. Vaughan does his best work. Taking two characters that if put up on a board of ideas would probably just confuse people, giving those characters more personality and layers than most primetime shows and them throwing them together, at which point you’re just excited to see the pair share page time together. Two scenes in particular won me over this issue; one between the writer/drunkard Oswald Heist and Marko’s mother, two individuals who couldn’t be more different. One is an old, flamboyant hermit whose drunken ramblings and profound wisdom sometimes blur (he also occasionally throws up on infants) the other is a hardened, veteran female warrior, all discipline and higher causes. But when the topic of war crimes is introduced all those things seem to melt away in the midst of more painful, intimate things. The very raw and real way Oswald talks about war and loss is as good of writing as I’ve seen in a comic book “I regret to inform you that the rest of your days will be kind of shit” rough stuff; true stuff. Add a great little aside about how Marko’s parents met that shows maybe a little bit of a silly/wild side to Marko’s mom and you have an exchange that’s one of my favorite in comics in recent memory.
The second comes directly after. Sophie of Sextillion has led a very hard life. From near birth sold into the despicable sex trade industry of this universe it’s no wonder she seems nearly distorted beyond repair. Add to that fact that her two new caretakers are mercenaries and things aren’t looking good for this kid`s rehabilitation. To combat her trauma a bit they send her over to spend time with lying cat. In six simple panels this comic nearly brought tears to my eyes. Sophie talks to LC about herself as a girl would to any pet, looking good, saying things that any little girl may—and then her visage breaks. Fiona Staples deserves a ton of credit on this one; one expression says it all as the memory of the years of trauma this girl has had to endure comes flooding back. “Im all dirty on the inside” she says, describing the terribly dark and complex feelings in the best way a six year old could. But before she finishes her self-shaming, lying cat breaks in, “lying” and she hugs him. That’s it. What a goddamn brilliant exchange. All that hurt and anguish that it seems no one in the galaxy could quell, and a pet with the ability to say one word with perfect timing provided the perfect salve. These guys really are great at comic books.
Saga does many things, right, absolutely tremendous writing; beautiful and pitch-perfect art by Fiona Staples. Ever-interesting characters and creatures and new worlds to explore every issue, but what it does the very best, and I realize the lame cliché, is heart. It doesn’t matter what story you tell, or how you tell it. If you can connect to the humanity in people you can tell a gorgeous story. Or you can show one. It is, to me, the very most important part of any tale. Fiona Staples and Brian K. Vaughan know this, and for it, the quality of their comic book goes without saying.
Writer: Brian K. Vaughan Artist: Fiona Staples Publisher: Image Comics Price: $2.99 Release Date: 9/25/13