In-Your-Face Mature Sci-Fi Fantasy
Saga, Volume 1 by Brian K. Vaughn, illustrated by the amazing Fiona Staples, is the first sci-fi fantasy graphic novel I’ve ever encountered. This is rather unfortunate, because now I’m going to have incredibly high standards of every sci-fi fantasy graphic novel I encounter after read the rest of the series.
Because, ladies and gentlemen… Saga, Volume 1 is good.
Saga, Volume 1 is very, very good.
What I Thought Worked Well
Well-Rounded Characters and Tension-Filled Plot
You see the protagonists on the title cover? The man with the horns, the woman with the wings breastfeeding the child in one arm? That’s Marko, Alana, and Hazel, respectively. They’re husband and wife, and before they became husbands and wife, they were on opposite sides of a war between their races. Now they’re on the run as fugitives, trying to find shelter for their newborn daughter they name Hazel. Pretty simple, right?
Let me tell you.
It’s far from simple.
Marko, a warrior who has vowed to never take his sword out of his sheath ever again in the name of protecting his family, struggles with keeping that sword in his sheath. Alana, willing to do anything to survive, is far from perfect herself. Both of them are fully-fleshed out and flawed, keeping me interested in the story by keeping me interested in their interactions with each other.
And it’s not just these two characters that are fully-fleshed out. Every character you meet — from a robot prince to a bounty hunter with a cat that can tell when someone is lying — wants something, fights for something, and believes something.
Because of the well-developed characters, conflict greases the engine of this graphic novel on every page and keeps me reading.
Particularity in Style, Setting, and Thematic Resonance
I don’t want to get into the nitty-gritty details of the… details that Saga incorporates, as they’re a bit mature and graphic, but I’ll do my best.
Two former soldiers trying to find peace in a universe that’s anything but peaceful?
Boom. Theme and setting points.
Hazel narrating some sections of the story to keep me interested in the long term, and to hint at the theme of legacy?
Boom. Style and theme points.
Dialogue that’s natural, particular, and unique to every character?
Boom. Style point.
Every single time I think I’ve got Saga cornered, it proves to me that it can clearly hold its own and doesn’t need any hand-holding.
It’s doing just fine.
What I Thought Didn’t Work Well
Do I really have to include this section?
I thought everything went extremely well. The characters, the plot, the setting, the style, the themes — I found nothing that confused me or troubled me.
I mean, perhaps later down the line, I might find something. But for right now, nothing comes to mind. And I’m looking forward to getting my hands on the rest of the series (especially since it left it at such a wonderful cliffhanger!).
If you’ve ever wanted to read a mature sci-fi fantasy graphic novel, this is one for you.
And also, as a warning…
There is sex, violence, language, all of it. But the sex, language, and violence aren’t there just because it’s there. It’s there because that’s what the world of Saga is. It’s the world that Hazel is born into. It’s the world Alana and Marko are trying to escape and reject. They have been molded by the things they want to break free from.
So, again, as a warning, this is a mature graphic novel. I advise you not to buy it for your young impressionable children or teenagers. I mean, the cover should have been enough to let you know, right?
But seriously. I think there’s still a misconception about graphic novels being the same thing as comics for kids when they’re not. Saga is anything but a comic book for kids.
It’s an epic.