*reposted from thedailyfandom.com (mostly spoiler-free)
It's an interesting title, feeling huge but incomplete. Saga of what? About who? Usually, story titles pair "saga" with other words that provide that context. To this day, I'm not exactly sure what made me pick it up from the shelf. There was just something about it—an intensity framed in the expressions of its titular protagonists: a winged woman and a horned man. Saga doesn't just chronicle the lives of this runaway couple (though that's the simplest way to describe its plot). It's a study in people, shared through the lives of, well, aliens. Here's why you should read it.
1) The art? Scrumptious
For a lot of people, a comic’s art is its main selling point. If this is true for you, Saga does not disappoint. Illustrator Fiona Staples—who also worked on Riverdale's sort-of source material Archie—skillfully depicts the strangeness of the comic's many worlds through her soft but crisp style. Her compositions are mind-blowing, capturing both magnitude and depth. In an interview, Staples reveals that Saga’s art is a bit of a step away from her usual aesthetic:
“I’ve always wanted to do a painted-style comic, but in my experiments I always found that painting the characters made them look very static, and somehow less engaging…in Saga, I decided to ink the characters and color them very simply–partly to shave a bit of time off, but mostly to make them clear and instantly readable.”
Staple goes on to note that this simplistic approach allows for the comic’s action scenes to mix better into the environment, packing more of a punch. It also infuses Saga's landscapes with a healthy dose of fever-dreaminess, making the story that much more engrossing.
2) Plot = one endless, intergalactic chase scene
Saga’s plot structure is undoubtedly one of its greatest assets. By starting in the middle of the action (a birth, specifically) writer Brian K. Vaughan welcomes us into the world alongside our narrator, a half-breed child named Hazel. Her parents are caught up in an intergalactic war—one that finds them on opposite sides. Choosing to escape the conflict, Hazel's parents fall into a dangerous game of cat-and-mouse with the universe's greatest military powers.
While Vaughan's storytelling helps us navigate this wild, war-torn universe, it hides more than it reveals. This works wonders for the story, placing us in the characters' shoes and making the world of Saga feel massive and unknowable. The plot is further supplemented by a steady rotation of narrative threads. We hop from perspective to perspective, not often enough to jar us, but with a frequency that keeps the story fresh.
Of course, Vaughan is no stranger to binge-able material. Among other comic works, he's written for the show Lost. Saga’s plot grips you and refuses to let go, keeping you on your toes just like the family it follows.
3) Every single character kicks ass
Vaughan is an absolute master of character writing. Each personality Saga offers is effortlessly unique, with a score of realistic mannerisms and attitudes to boot. This isn’t limited to our main cast, either. Their pursuers are just as—if not more—nuanced. Vaughan has us constantly questioning their motives; you may even find yourselves rooting for them.
Saga has also received praise for its depiction of non-white characters. In an interview,
Vaughan attributes the decision to illustrator Fiona Staples:
In my mind, I was like, ‘Oh, they are white, because that is the default for all characters in science fiction and fantasy’…This is all entirely a benefit of working with great collaborators like Fiona Staples and reaching out beyond my own initial ideas and assumptions.
Really, this choice just makes sense. Saga’s characters are all aliens, after all; who says that white is an intergalactic skin tone? The comic has also been praised for its LGBTQ+ representation. This includes the increasing involvement of two male reporters, Upsher and Doff. Like Saga's other characters, this pair does their fair share of ass-kicking. And kissing.
4) A galaxy not so far away?
Saga is partially inspired by the ever-popular Star Wars. Both are space operas, and there are many comparisons to be drawn between their lore. But Brian K. Vaughan’s universe is far from a copy. In fact, in some ways, Saga expands on the ideas that Star Wars touched on. It’s also by far the more mature of the two. Little is sugar-coated or diluted; we see things as they are, as they happen.
As previously mentioned, there’s a war going on. The “sides” initially include two races: one of winged humanoids, the other with horns. However, the war has since swallowed up the whole galaxy. As a result, every planet now fights against its own moon. Through it all, we come across some wild things: pink ghosts, tree rocket-ships, a king with a T.V. for a head. Somehow, Saga makes you accept it all without a second thought.
5) Lying Cat
Last but certainly not least, we have Lying Cat. She’s basically a walking polygraph. Anything less than the truth and she’ll call you out; she’s also got the teeth, claws, and attitude to do something about it. In other words, Lying Cat is an icon. Enough said.
Give Saga A Try!
There are currently fifty-seven issues in Saga. That is to say, there’s plenty out there to read. With luck, I’ve already convinced you to take a closer look. If not, it may help to know that Issue #1 can be read online here. Take a look; this saga is truly limitless.