January 6th, 2013
So a couple of months ago I talked about Prophet and how much it seemed influenced by European comics. Well, Saga is another Image series that could’ve just as well been published in Metal Hurlant or A Suivre. It’s written by Brian K. Vaughan, known to me from Y: The Last Man and Ex Machina, but whom I haven’t yet read anything from and drawn by Fiona Staples, who I know nothing about but who is seriously good here. Especially her facial expressions:
Saga is the story of Alana, the woman on the left and Marko, the horned dude, starcrossed lovers in a galaxy at war. Alana is from Landfall while Marko is from Wreath, its moon and these two have been at war for seemingly forever, having outsourced it to the rest of the galaxy. Alana and Marko met on Cleave, the latest planet to become a battlefield when he was a POW and she his guard, fell in love and deserted. Now they have to get off planet while taking care of their newborn baby. Hijinks ensue.
Both sides meanwhile want them dead. From Planetfall Prince Robot IV is sent to Cleave to hunt them down, while Marko’s people have hired freelancers to do the same. That’s one of them above, The Will, with his partner Lying Cat, who can tell if you’re lying to her. The other freelancer is The Stalk, below, whom The Will has history with.
The story moves slowly over the course of the six issues represented in the first trade paperback, with Marko and Alana trying to get to the Rocketship Woods on the other side of Cleave, while The Will, The Stalk and Prince Robot IV all attempt to catch up to them, one way or another.
What makes Saga more than just a pretty sci-fi adventure is the simple fact that none of the main characters are true villains or heroes. Alana and Marko just want to live in peace with their daughter, to be left alone, while Prince Robot IV just want to get things over with so he can go home to his pregnant wife. Even the two freelancers are anything but Boba Fett like bounty hunters, with The Will frex having confliced feelings about his former partner, The Stalk.
But what really makes the series is the artwork; as said Staples is seriously good at facial expressions, slightly exaggerated at key moments, but also has a good eye for character design and layout in general. In general, like Prophet, this is a series that actually makes me enthusiastic about American comics again, something that shows there are still pleasant surprises to be had.