*reposted from thedailyfandom.com (mostly spoiler-free)
Saga of what? About who? Usually, story titles pair "saga" with other words that provide those kinds of juicy details.
But there was just something about this graphic novel, propped discreetly against a stack of Monstress issues—an intensity framed in the expressions of its titular protagonists: a winged woman and a horned man. Several page-turns later, I've learned that 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.
And here's why you should read it.
Reason #1: The art is to die for
For many, 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. 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 with 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 immersive. Each page will leave you rapt with its imagination.
Reason #2: Plot = one wild intergalactic chase scene
Saga’s plot structure is undoubtedly one of its greatest assets. By starting in the middle of the action (a birth, spoiler alert) 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 is supposed to makes them enemies. Choosing to escape the conflict, Hazel's parents fall into a dangerous game of cat-and-mouse with the universe's greatest military powers.
Though Vaughan's storytelling helps us navigate this 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 bingeable 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 much like the family whose journey it follows.
Reason #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 protagonists 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."
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.
Reason #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. After all, there’s a war going on. In Saga, the “sides” initially include two races: one of winged humanoids, and the other of horned ones. The war quickly swallows up the whole galaxy, with every planet fighting against its own moon. (Talk about crappy neighbors.)
Despite the similarities, Brian K. Vaughan’s universe is far from a copy. In some ways, Saga expands on the ideas that Star Wars touched on—militarization, genocide, and lineage, to name a few. 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, with a fair amount of bits and blood sprinkled in for flavor.
Reason #5: Lying Cat
Last but certainly not least, there's Lying Cat. She’s basically a walking polygraph. Anything less than the truth and she’ll call you out; plus she’s 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!
With luck, I’ve convinced you to hunt for Saga at your local bookstore. Pink ghost babysitters, tree rocket-ships, a king with a TV for a head—there's something for everybody! If by some aberration you're not yet on board, it may help to know that Issue #1 can be read online here, for free.
Take a look; I promise that Saga is as limitless as its title.