If you don’t know it, SAGA is a mature comic series published by Image Comics, written by Brian K. Vaughan and illustrated by Fiona Staples. The story is an enormous sci/fi epic tale, but is really only about the people caught up in it. To over simplify, it’s world-building akin to that of Star Wars meets a Romeo & Juliet-esque love story.
Alana is a soldier from Landfall, the largest planet in the galaxy. They are at war with Wreath, the only moon of Landfall, for whom Marko is a soldier. Those from Landfall have wings, those from Wreath have horns. No one even remembers why the wings and horns went to war in the first place, but the conflict has consumed the whole galaxy and battles are routinely outsourced to 3rd party armies at neutral venues. War has become the industry of the galaxy. And in this, Marko and Alana meet, fall in love, and have a child, Hazel, who has both wings and horns. This is bad news for business and governments on both sides want to keep this from becoming public knowledge. As such, Alana, Marko and Hazel travel the galaxy doing their best to keep their identities hidden from the armies and mercenaries pursuing them.
The series is listed as mature do to very graphic adult content, but that’s not limited to the graphic language. There is nudity, sex and graphic depictions and discussions of both. There are political and religious ideologies at play and parodied. There are the themes of growing up as well: Starting a family, accepting the change of responsibility brought about by family and the sudden onset of parenting are all present. And then there’s the violence – Oh, the violence. I almost want to call the violence depicted as Quentin Tarantino (because of the quantity) meets Coen Brothers (for its immediacy, brutality and finality).
Vaughan’s writing carries this all effortlessly, making all of it seem entirely integral and never superfluous or gratuitous. And his writing is truly excellent – in reading, you’ll come to care about every single character involved, no matter which side of the events they may stand on. The world he’s created in his writing here is one that is so engrossing that when you find out the robot people that have televisions for heads actually have a race of alligator people as servants, it doesn’t even phase you. And while his writing makes it believable, Staples’ art makes it gorgeous. Sumptuous. Visually delicious. It would not be hyperbole to say that there isn’t enough hyperbole to use to describe the visual flair she pours into her work. Staples’ artwork is unlike anything else out there, and is so full and vibrant that every panel on every page is worth slowly going over. This creates an interesting dichotomy as her art makes you want to linger over new issues, while Vaughan’s writing makes you want to fly through as quickly as you can to find out what happens.
The story is in its 6th volume now, with every 6 issues being a new volume that is collected as a trade paperback. If you want to get in on what might be the best continuous story going today you can catch up with the trades, and volumes 1-5 will bring you through issue 30. You should be able to find the single issue for #31 at your local comic shop, or digitally – and then get ready for the best time of the year when issue #32 releases, because there is no better time than the time spent reading new SAGA.