Pick of the Week
What did the
- Pick of the Week - 06.12.2013 - Thor: God of Thunder #9
- Pick of the Week - 06.04.2013 - Astro City #1
- Pick of the Week - 05.29.2013 - The Wake #1
- Pick of the Week - 05.22.2013 - Daredevil #26
- Pick of the Week - 05.15.2013 - Edgar Allen Poe's The Fall of the House of Usher #1
Art by Fiona Staples
Cover by Fiona Staples
Size: 0 pages
Hey, the first one was Pick of the Week too, right? Well, there’s a reason for that. Several actually.
I don’t know that Brian K. Vaughan is the best of the comic book writers of his generation, but I do know why I’m so glad to see him writing comics again. Most of the people who broke into the mainstream around 2000, and were any good, have been writing comics constantly since that time. Most of them have been writing superhero stories, either because that’s where the money is, or that’s what they wanted to do, or both. At this point, a decade or more later, we’ve seen most of their tricks. Writers who I enjoyed so much back then aren’t thrilling me the way they used to, probably because of my constant exposure to their massive output. But Vaughan went away for while. And before that, he never really settled into the superhero writer trap that got Bendis, Brubaker, and others of his class. Instead, Vaughan made his bones with unique stories like Y: The Last Man, Ex Machina (kind of superhero), Pride of Baghdad, and even Runaways–which was as close to mainstream superhero success as he got–was different, featuring all new characters, and as removed from Marvel continuity as a Marvel book could get. Vaughan used the methods and language of mainstream comics, and worked within those systems, but never fell into those ruts that others had. Vaughan had runs on Batman and Ultimate X-Men, but they weren’t even that memorable, because it wasn’t his thing. But now, when the business strategy of the big companies can be summed up as “try desperately to recapture”, Vaughan appears once again, working within a framework and language that we all understand as mainstream comics, but with something different than everything else on the stands.
Saga is… I don’t know what Saga is. That’s what’s wonderful about it. I have no idea what’s going to happen from page to page, or who these characters really are. But I’ve been shown enough that I want to find out, and badly. With the basic introductions taken care of in the first issue, here we get to see what else they’ve got in them, and what they’re made of, all while completing the task of massive world building. When Alana, trapped, turned her gun on Hazel, I didn’t see it coming. I know she loves her daughter, and that she loves Marko, and that she talks a lot like people I know talk, but what else do I know about this winged alien from a world consumed by war? All I do know is that Vaughan has the ability to surprise me, and I never know when it’s coming. The royal TV head robot is a complete mystery. Is he bad? Is he good? What about the forces behind him? What are the rules of this world? Is there magic. My god, are those dead children? These are enough questions to make an issue worth reading, but I haven’t scratched the surface of the story revealed in this issue, and it’s a wonderful thing. The guy can flat out tell a story. I was never bored for an instant of this issue, and when it was over, I just wanted more. Further, let’s go on to give him some more credit for crafting comics in issues that are fulfilling in their current form. It’s a book where I don’t want to wait for the trade. I want to read it month in and month out, because they’re made for that.
There are times when it feels like I’ve seen all the tricks that comics have to offer, and that we’re treading the same ground over and over again, and even though I’m aware that Vaughan is most definitely using that same toolbox, he’s getting something else out of it. Perhaps it’s just that I connect with his voice, or perhaps he’s just coming at it from a different place, but it’s exciting, and it’s invigorating, and it’s proof that this medium of comics, even working within the same old tired 22 page format, you can still feel something fresh, and something viable that feels like it’s moving towards the future instead of constantly referencing the past.
A huge part of the book’s success can be laid on the able pages created by Fiona Staples. Since discovering her work on the criminally unknown Mystery Society, I’ve known she was an artist worth following. Like Vaughan, she’s using the language of all the other comics you’ve been reading all along. There’s nothing drastic or groundbreaking, but her pages have a style and flavor all their own. Perhaps that lends to a lot of the freshness I’m feeling reading Saga, since her style is slightly askew, and just a little softer than many of the other books I’m reading. I think the thing that’s most impressive though, is her character acting. She gives us a lot of information without the use of words by showing the characters expressions, and postures. Look how the robot postures himself, almost bored with what he’s got to do, but still bearing the authority of his position. Look at Alana’s face in any given panel she appears in, or Marko’s utter dumbfoundedness marked with resolution. I get that from the art as much as the words if not more. A writer who has a comic book artist with that kind of skill has an extremely powerful set of tools with which to tell the story, and Fiona Staples is going to come off this title, a long time from now, in great demand.
Saga has shown me something that I didn’t even know was missing from my comic book reading. The fact that it’s on the stands and has so many issues ahead of it brings a huge smile to my face, and reinforces my love of the medium. It’s like the beginning of some giddy relationship, and I know I’ll be able to talk about these issues for years later on. It proves that my faith in Brian K. Vaughan wasn’t unfounded. More than any of that though, it’s just a lot of fun, and really well done.
I’d take an ad for Saga any day.
Read Saga #2 on Graphicly!