ADVANCE REVIEW: SAGA #1 (Spoiler Free)

Originally published on January 30, 2012
Saga #1

Saga #1

Saga #1

Written by Brian K. Vaughan
Art by Fiona Staples

44 pages / Full Color / $2.99

Image Comics

There’s already been a ton of attention paid to the upcoming series Saga from Image Comics. First when it was announced at the San Diego Comic-Con last summer, heralding the return of Brian K. Vaughan to comics after several years of being off in Hollywoodland and teaming up with Fiona Staples. And then again when the first images started to emerge from the series, which set off some discussion which looking back on, seems kind of silly. But now, as the release date inches closer, I finally got our hands on an advanced copy and wanted to share with you my thoughts, in a spoiler free fashion of course.

Before I get to my review, I’d just like to reflect on how great it is to be able write about a Brian K. Vaughan comic book again. We all know he’s good, but man, he is really good. If I were a comic book writer, I’d probably want to break my pencil in half after reading a BKV book, because he just makes it look so easy. BKV has earned a reputation for a great first issue, and Saga #1 is no exception, and yet it’s like nothing I’ve ever read from BKV before.

 

In terms of describing Saga, I have to give it up to my retailer, James Sime at Isotope Comics, as he summed up eloquently in his monthly email to customers describing Saga as “Romeo & Juliet meets Star Wars.” I’ve sat here trying to come up with some original way to say the same thing, But I just decided to share that with you because it’s pretty spot on, and yet it’s so much more.  As we’ve seen, the protagonists of Saga #1 are displayed proudly on the cover, Marko and Alana and the book starts off with the birth of their child (as seen having lunch on the cover of issue #1.) With the birth of this baby, the story of Saga begins and we’re introduced to a vast and elaborate world in space, consisting of a never ending war between two sides of humanity.  Marko and Alana are a union that cannot be and thus from the get go, are on the run.  As we’re introduced to that as the main plot of the book, Vaughan also seamlessly introduces us to the players on the chessboard of this universe.  Political intrigue and cosmic war emerge as the supporting plot to Saga as we are introduced to the specifics of this world which is filled with a balance of technology and magic. BKV and Staples come together to fully realize a world that mixes the genres of science fiction and fantasy along with a political thriller where the stakes are high.

But above all things, Saga #1 touched me in that while it’s successfully establishes the science fiction/fantasy world the story is set in, that even amongst all the war, and violence and magic and the like, Saga is an emotional story. With each introduction of characters in the story, Brian K. Vaughan is able to build an emotional connection, even amongst what appears to be the villains of the story. Each page oozes with emotion, drawing you in even further.  When describing what reading Saga #1 was like to a friend, I compared it to how I felt after watching Firefly or the modern Battlestar Galactica TV Shows. Both shows, while unique in their own right, have 2 things in common with Saga that immediately brought them to mind. First off, they’re both very emotional shows, as the audience found themselves getting attached very deeply after watching their stories unfold.  Secondly, while they’re firmly science fiction stories with outrageous and fantastic sci-fi elements, there was always an element that was relatable to me as a viewer. Whether it was the western themes of Firefly or the corded phones on Battlestar Galactica, these shows were at the same time totally out there and completely believable to me as a viewer.  Saga works in the same way. While Marko has horns and Alana has wings, and there’s a whole host of other out there concepts around the characters, the world of Saga  includes small touches that makes it a world that I felt comfortable in, an element of something to grab onto and relate to. It’s these two elements that, to me, made Saga something worth getting excited for.

Of course, none of this would be possible without the execution of visualization of the world of Saga by Fiona Staples. I had seen some of Staples work over the years, but as I finished reading Saga #1, all I could say was, “Wow, I had no idea!” To say Fiona Staples is excellent here would be a tragic understatement. Saga is, at the same time, beautiful and enrapturing as it’s daring and expansive. Staples characters are fully realized and carry that bit of wonder that is required when embarking on good sci-fi/fantasy.  There are absolutely several jaw dropping moments in Saga #1, and I’ve purposely limited the art I’m showing in this review because I don’t want to spoil everyone’s chance to see it for the first time themselves. Let me assure you, after you read Saga #1, you’ll see what I mean and agree that Fiona Staples just catapulted to the top of the comic book game with the work she’s throwing down here.  To add to the character design, amazing settings and action sequences, Staples hand letters key elements of the narrative, which in a visual manner helps to support the evocative nature of the story. It’s truly the merging of written word and visual storytelling that makes comics such a wonderful medium.

Unlike the previous first issues of BKV’s earlier work, Saga #1 delivers that “wow” impact in a different manner. Double-sized, at 44 pages, Saga #1 packs a lot into the first issue. I’m not spoiling anything by saying there isn’t a big cliff hanger moment like we saw in Ex Machina #1, but that doesn’t mean that Saga #1 isn’t as impactful. After reading Saga #1, I got completely caught up in the drama and lost in the world and immediately hoped for the next issue. Plus, at 44 pages (with no ads) for just $2.99, it’s a steal.

One of my favorite things about science fiction and fantasy, either in comics or TV or movies, is that feeling you get the first time you’re exposed to it. I remember the first time I realized how grand and amazing Star Wars was, or how imaginative Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson was, or how engaging and special Battlestar Galactica was, or how fun and exciting Firefly was. I’m excited for all of you to share in that “first” moment again like I just did when you read Saga #1, because it’s definitely one of those special moments in time.

It’s clear that Saga is going to be the kind of ongoing series that comic readers will love, with a personal story to connect with up front, on the backdrop of a war on an epic scale.  Saga #1 has everything I would hope for in a modern sci-fi/fantasy comic and more. With one issue, Saga has already earned it’s spot as one of the best new comics series of 2012.

Story: 5 / Art: 5 / Overall: 5

(Out of 5 Stars)

Saga #1 goes on sale at comic books stores and digitally on March 14, 2012.  If you haven’t pre-ordered it yet from your local comic book store, make sure you do. The last big release from Image Comics, Prophet #21 sold out in a flash, so don’t miss out.

Comments

  1. stuclach stuclach says:

    Romeo and Juliet meets Star Wars sounds like fun. And that is some beautiful artwork. I’m excited.

  2. Paul Montgomery Paul Montgomery (@fuzzytypewriter) says:

    Agreed. Great first issue and a cool narrative device. Looking forward to more.

  3. KenOchalek KenOchalek says:

    I was fortunate enough to get in on the ground floor with both Y: The Last Man and Ex Machina back in the day, so knowing there’s another BKV epic about to infect my brain is really exciting!

  4. vadamowens vadamowens says:

    Fuck me. You gave something a 5. I’m pretty god damn excited about this now.

  5. Looking forward to checking this out digitally. I’ve never had a chance to start a BKV book on the ground level and a I love Staples’ work so this is something i’m excited for.

  6. TomE TomE says:

    Very excited for this. Never got to follow a BKV series as it was coming out, but since SAGA will also be digital, nothing will stop me from supporting it.

  7. Parri Parri (@pazzatron) says:

    Finally finished Y: The Last Man last week and have moved straight on to trades on Ex-Machina. BKV is a sensational writer. Like you say here, it’s almost irritatingly effortless.

    It was a given that Saga was going to be ace and I’ve glad your review has confirmed the prophecy, Ron. But a review five weeks before it hits the stands? Why you gonna play me like that, Ron? Damn I’m impatient.

  8. sitara119 sitara119 says:

    is that woman breast feeding? oh my god! how dare she feed her baby naturopathically!
    sorry, couldnt resist. your right, it does seem silly now that was such an issue.

    44 pages for 3 bucks. that is awesome. is that just the introductory price and page count? can i expect one of those aspects to change?
    i am very intrigued by this. star wars meets romeo and juliet? how could i not be? I’m from the south and married someone who could be considered taboo to some folks and we just had a baby a couple of years ago, so SAGA sounds very relatable for me.
    i’m calling my CS and putting this on my pull list. ASAP

  9. kmob181 kmob181 says:

    This and Saucer Country are the two titles in 2012 I’m most looking forward to.

  10. diebenny diebenny says:

    I generally like Super Heroes nowadays, but I’m getting this issue. Y was amazing. I know we can’t hope for that level of quality consistently, but I’m still very excited. Excitement is made better by 5/5 reviews.

  11. Francisco Francisco says:

    Dave Dorman should get a comp copy.

  12. Zeppo Zeppo says:

    I love Y, Runaways, Pride of Bagdad, and pretty much everything else BKV. I was all over this anyway but hearing good things has got me more excited!!

    I just feel bad for you, Ron. You’ve tasted it and have to wait even longer for the second issue. That’s got to be tourture.

    I didn’t get what all the fuss over the cover was for. If you don’t look with an adult mind it’s just two awesome looking aliens and a baby.

  13. Zeppo Zeppo says:

    Will it definitely be digital?

  14. Neeks Neeks says:

    This will be my first experiance reading Brians work monthly and for the most part for the first time. The only other thing ive read by him was the first volume of Y the last man which i thought was ok but not as epic as everyone else goes on about.

    To people who have read this series does it end up getting much better as you continue? Or is the first book a good indication of what the series is like for the most part?

  15. mikegraham6 mikegraham6 says:

    I think Image will be getting all my money this year….

  16. Brian K. Vaughan brought me into comics with Y: The Last Man and Ex Machina only about a year ago (obviously I am one of those mythical “new readers”). I am extremely excited to actually follow a BKV book in issues. And as usual, BKV seems to have an excellent collaborator in Fiona Staples.

  17. s1lentslayer s1lentslayer says:

    JEALOUS. I can’t wait.

  18. This review is really rethinking my views on waiting for trade on this. I mean I like BKV but it feels as though reading his work in chunks is more enjoyable then waiting for issues.

    Am I the only one that feels like that when it comes to his work? Cause I couldn’t imagine waiting for ‘Y: The Last Man’ in issues.

  19. Kamilo Kamilo says:

    Wow, an advanced review that’s a whole month early. Makes me wonder, if its good enough for reviewers to read, why not just release the book?

  20. sunhero sunhero says:

    will it be monthly I cant imagine Fiona Staples will be able to keep up?

  21. Hot dan am i excited for this book! Great concept with a killer writer and a top notch artist. It seems almost impossible, but I really do think this will live up to the hype and the expectations.

  22. balsalm balsalm says:

    As if I wasn’t already waiting for this since it was announced and now this review makes it seem as good as I hoped! Really looking forward to reading new BKV.

  23. Sounds good, I look forward to checking this book out. I will say, that preview I read a bit back which was well a birth scene, didn’t really sell me. Ha, questionable marketing I’d say. But I will check this out for sure.

  24. Awesome! I can’t wait.

  25. kzap kzap says:

    Scrolled down. Saw it got a 5, 5. Not reading any more, just ordering it. I don’t want any (even minuscule) spoilers.

  26. okc says:

    I’ve also read it and it’s without question a 5/5 book. Everyone needs to buy this. Anyone that doesn’t… well… I just don’t know, man.

  27. Wow, I am really excited after this review! I think I am more excited for Saga than I was for any of the New 52 books.

  28. voodoomama voodoomama says:

    this book looks really awesome. I cannot wait to see this. Fiona Staples is awesome!!!!

  29. Y cant this come out this week so i gotta wait till next pay to buy it noooooooooooooooooooooo

  30. batmanslayer says:

    count me in. this is going to be an amazing ride from an amazing writer with amazing artwork. god i cannot wait to read this issue so much

  31. UncleBob UncleBob says:

    I enjoy all of BKV’s work. I really like the fact that all of his stories have a planned ending. (I assume that’s the case with Saga).

  32. Since this was announced it’s been my most anticipated new series. It makes me wish I didn’t get my comics through DCBS, now I need to avoid any conversation of it until I read it in early April.

  33. Chazman Chazman says:

    I’m on board!

  34. Question to those who have read Saga 1: What exactly got this the “Mature” rating?

  35. filippod filippod (@filippodee) says:

    I’m looking forward to this as my chance to share with my wife some comic reading.

  36. ComicfanLyle says:

    Im relativley new to comics and I havent read any Image books but i am a big star wars fan so would this be a good book to get.

  37. ComicfanLyle says:

    Thanks for that,i think i will try it.Im also a big fan of Firefly but ive never seen Battlestar Galactica.Is it good?.

  38. ComicfanLyle says:

    Do you think that someone who likes things like Firefly,Star Wars and star trek will like this?.

  39. ComicfanLyle says:

    Good.Have any of you scene the show Grimm.Im only a few episodes in but i thinks its brilliant