Pick of the Week

March 14, 2012 – Saga #1

What did the
community think?

Avg Rating: 4.7
iFanboy Community Pick of the Week Percentage: 76.9%
Users who pulled this comic:
Story by Brian K. Vaughan
Art by Fiona Staples

Size: 44 pages
Price: 2.99

First, a disclaimer.

Having hurt my back a while ago, I had to have an MRI today to see how much damage has actually been done. Being someone who suffers from claustrophobia I had to take some sedatives to be able to spend a half an hour in that little tube.

This Pick of the Week review is brought to you by Xanax and Valium.

Since these drugs are still coursing through my body, I’m completely exhausted and a tiny bit loopy. That’s part of the reason why this is going up so late. A few hours ago had I tried to write this it would have been an incoherent mess. Well, more so than normal.

What I’m saying is that this might not be the best review I’ve ever written.

For most of the previous decade it was harder to find a bigger name in comics than Brian K. Vaughan. His first published work was in 1996, but it wasn’t until the early 2000s when he exploded with a string of high profile and creatively exciting works like Y: The Last Man (2002), Runaways (2003), Ex Machina (2004), and Pride of Baghdad (2006). And then he got hired to write for some TV show called Lost, and once those comic book series ran their course he was swallowed whole by the land of swimming pools, movie stars, and In-N-Out burgers. We feared that he would never be seen again. Hell, we joked about it enough.

And then we started hearing rumblings that Vaughan was coming back, and not with some small mini-series that would fit into his schedule in-between developing his new Showtime series and working on his various other screenplays. No, he was said to be coming back to comics in a big way with a new on-going sci-fi series.

Despite what might seem like an obvious grouping between subject matter, medium, and audience, there isn’t a whole heck of a lot of pure sci-fi in popular mainstream comics. Not when popular mainstream comics are dominated by superheroes doing superdeeds. That doesn’t mean that there hasn’t been any sci-fi, and good sci-fi at that. Starborn, from BOOM! Studios’ ill-fated Stan Lee Presents line of books was tons of fun, and my favorite sci-fi comic book of the last few years was probably Dan Dare from Virgin Comics. I’m sure there are other popular and/or mainstream pure sci-fi comic book series out there but nothing comes to mind immediately (other than I really need to sleep).

Enter: Saga #1 from Image Comics.

One of my favorite things about this first issue is that Vaughan doesn’t hit us over the head with information. This is a completely new and unfamiliar world featuring completely new and unfamiliar alien races and, except for a quick three page sequence in the middle the sets up the geography and the basic central conflict, there’s no giant info dump explaining the world and the races and their customs. Everything we learn, we learn contextually, or we have to use our heads, which is that lump three feet above our asses, to figure things out for themselves. Vaughan isn’t handing out any silver platters in Saga #1, but he is giving us hot robot on robot sex.

As the issue opens we are dropped into the middle of the action. And by action I mean the messy and ad hoc birth of a child in the back of an old body shop. A beautiful woman with little dragon wings is giving birth to the daughter of a man with ram-like horns. Right off the bat you can tell that Alana and Marko are a cute and loving couple and it doesn’t matter that there are wings or horns or the fact that Marko offers to cast a magic healing spell to help manage Alana’s pain. That’s all just window dressing for two immediately relatable and likable protagonists. What we learn as the story progresses is that Marko and Alana’s people are locked in a bitter and brutal war and that someway and somehow, they found love and now they have a baby girl who is narrating this story via some fantastic hand lettered captions from artist Fiona Staples.

Speaking of Fiona Staples! Woo-boy, she’s good. I first came across her work in the excellent and criminally underrated Mystery Society mini-series. She used a different, more ethereal and delicate style in that book, but here in Saga her work is all rough edges and sharp angles and it’s wonderful. Her character designs for these aliens are so naturalistic that after a while I stopped noticing that Marko has two giant curly horns protruding out of the side of his skull.

At 44 pages of story, there’s a lot going on in Saga #1. From the birth of baby Hazel to robot generals with TVs for heads to magic spell casting aliens all with different kinds of horns to tough-as-nails intergalactic bounty hunters with cat sidekicks who can tell when you’re lying to a giant and seemingly never-ending war between two races, there’s a ton of fertile ground for Brian K. Vaughan to explore. That might seem like a lot going on, but if there’s one thing that Vaughan has shown us over the years is that he is well equipped to handle sprawling, long form stories with multiple elements, especially when the center of the story is a character (or in this case, characters) that feels real and relatable: Marko and Alana are just trying to find and hold onto love and family in a time of war and chaos.

And from what I’ve seen so far, Saga promises to be the next great epic comic book series from Brian K. Vaughan.

Conor Kilpatrick
How ’bout that robot fucking?


  1. I knew it! Glad the book is living up to the talent of the people involved and past the controversy!

  2. Love it! This book had me at “Am I shiting? It feels like I’m shitting!”.

  3. I cant tell weather this book is a reconstruction of a deconstruction, or deconstruction of a reconstruction. any ideas?

    It’s totally different to what I expected and that makes me happy. I’m on board for the run and I know what I am buying my cousin for Christmas.

  4. Image are rocking pretty hard right now.

    • Fo’ Sho

      I was thinking about this last night. DC gets a lot of praise for what they did last summer (and deservedly so) but it seems indie publishers, particularly Image, are poised to benefit the most from day & date digital or just Digital comics in general.

      It seems like every week there’s a new title from Image that everyone can get started on “from the beginning”.

      No continuity issues, no ret-conning, and no fanboys complaining about… well pretty much everything. With titles like Saga, Peter Panzerfaust, and Manhattan Projects Image gets the fanboy fervor without the fanboy fury.

      Whadayathink? Odds Image will have as many “new” readers as DC and Marvel?

    • With Walking Dead collections raking it in I bet Image has a new reader rate 10x higher than DC or Marvel, it’s funny that in the tiny comics industry they are the giants but in “the real world” Image is crushing them most likely. At least with trade paperback sales I bet for new readers.



  5. @Conor: Hope the MRI gave results that are good for you.

    I respect Conor’s analysis and love the art so I’ll stay on for a few more issues. But in a period when we have little science fiction (perhaps for the same reason science is denigrated in political arguments?), I had high hopes for this that weren’t met. Multiple planets don’t make science fiction to me. It takes innovation within the coherent rules of a universe. In this issue I saw lots of ideas but no coherence. I don’t enjoy Lost or Kirby’s New Gods for the same reason, and the end of Ex Machina struck me as “ex machina” and a let down—Hundred wasn’t who seemed to be up to that point. Oh well. Glad others like this and maybe I’ll see more in future issues. De gustibus non disputandum est.

    • I have similar feelings about this issue. I would have liked more sci-fi than fantasy. The sci-fi we did get was not exactly to my liking. I’m still not sure if I like the TV-headed robots. And there’s a bit too many references to Earth things, like school buses. I’ll stick around though, since I am interested in the characters, just not so much the world they’re inhabiting.

    • I agree about the references to earth things. I kinda cringed when Marko referred to a Grease Monkey. But maybe there is an explanation coming?

      It was really my only hangup with the book though and I look forward to these little bits of context being explained.

    • I thought it was fun, but not 5/5 POTW material. I’ll be sticking with it and gave it 4/4, but it isn’t the greatest thing since Y: The Last Man, so far.

  6. First off, I wish you all the best on the MRI, Conor.

    With that, this is my first BKV book.
    I’m hooked. I’m hunting Y trades right now.

    • I’m slightly jealous. I wish I was about to read Y for the first time. Enjoy it.

    • Me too, stuchlach. One of my fondest memories is reading the last volume. It had me in tears.

      Nathan, give Runaways a shot, too. It is a really fun series. At least the BKV written ones are I never read any past his time. I started reading them immediately after Y to fill the void. Have fun reading them. Tell Yorrick that John misses him.

    • Y #60 may be the best last issue of a series. Ever.

  7. I kinda assumed all the pick of the week reviews were brought to us by Xanax and Valium. Live and learn.

    This was an interesting first issue. I’m intrigued by the story. Love the artwork and the lettering.

  8. Feel better, Conor. The effort is appreciated.

  9. Hope your feeling better Conor, that sucks to hear about your back problem

  10. I sorta felt kind of bad for you Conor since there alot of 5 star comics this week. I wouldn’t have chosen this as my POTW, but it’s definitely within my top 5 (mine was Fantastic Four).

    Hope you feeling better!

  11. Dang, couldn’t the other guys help a brother out by taking over the POTW???

    All kidding aside, hope everything is ok for you, Conor.

    This book was so good, can’t decide between this and Wolverine and the x-men though…

  12. wow, good luck Conor. A friend of mine is going through siatic (spelling?) nerve stuff and it sounds horrible so you have my sympathies.
    And this was my POTW too, I got a great feeling of world building in it, and it sort of reminded me (in a very good way) of playing Final Fantasy 7 for the first time with my best friend and marvelling at it. I’m excited to read it again. Does anyone know if it’s going to stay at 2.99?

  13. Hope you feel better Conor soon.


  14. Your qualification was unnecessary, sir. A fine review, drug-addled or no.

    Hope you feel better.

  15. Chronic back pain is the worst, hope you’re doing alright!

    This really was a top notch week, but I really couldn’t see the POTW could have been anything else. Still, Wolverine and the X-men was my pick this week between psychic shotgun, kid brood gladiator, and most importantly Broo’s heart break won me over.

  16. This was a good book. But, on a tangential point: comics are bringing the weird back. From Prophet to Queen Crab to Saga, things that are wildly far from our mundane reality seem to be enjoying a strong resurgence. These stories are pretty far from super hero stories and cannot be summed up in any way other than to try to explain them within their own context.

  17. I don’t see where the Star Wars comparison comes from because as I see it Saga is its own story. And that’s a good thing.
    And I also appreciate the 44 pages for $2.99 is the icying. A big time player like Vaughan could have demanded more cash, but instead, they gave us another incentive to jump in. Good Stuff!

    @Kilpatrick Be well. I have a friend who went through some bad lower back injury and had a rough time of it, but now she is doing good. It’s always with her, though these days life is much more livable.

  18. Get well soon wishes friom myself as well, sir.

    As for Saga, while it doesn’t sound like it would normally be my cup of Sanka, the talented team is luring me in. I intend to pick it up today… if not on paper, digitally.

    • it’s amazing, you have to get this book. I love the 44 pages too, I think it works particularly well for creator owned stuff. Instead of creating an issue around a 22 page standard they just do the chapter however long it takes.

  19. i get Claustrophobic just thinking about an MRI…that sounds like rough stuff…hope you have a speedy recovery.

    Massive amounts of credit for getting that nice review up. What i really liked from this issue, is that we know its all Alien on this foreign galaxy, but they don’t smash us over the head with crazy dialects and invented *things*. The world feels relatable and familiar, but still alien. Seems thats is something very difficult to pull off.

  20. It was comforting to know that even robots with monitors for heads can sometimes have *ahem* performance issues in bed

  21. Saga #1 was a beautiful tale with the characters finding themselves in impossible situations to overcome, and the whole universe out to separate them. The amount of races and species in this story is a great, it gives them allot to expand the story and the universe on. I’m can’t wait to read issue 2.

    Personal Grade: 5/5

  22. I was going to make a slight joke on how obvious this pick is….But considering how troubling your night was Conor I won’t do that. Hope you get better and all will be well.

    (Although my pick was Batman and Robin #7 because it was amazing. I do wish I could get SAGA by my LCS sold out of copies)

    • Yup! Batman & Robin knocked my socks off! We’ve been building to this showdown between Bruce and Duccard and the payoff was worth it. It had at least 2 panels of the week, and loved how Batman reacted to the possibility of another Robin going down(especially his son)! great art and splah pages also!

    • *splash*

  23. Totally called it. But it wasn’t much of a surprise. Freaking loved this issue and can’t wait for the next one. It was just too damn good.

  24. Bots do it, droids do it
    Even TI83’s do it
    Let’s do it, let’s fall in love

    Hope your back isn’t too screwed up. I don’t have any particular issues with claustrophobia, but I have had a CT scan, and had I not been doped up on morphine and demoral, I probably would have still flipped my shit.

  25. When I hear these moments about robots fucking, people feeling like they’re shitting, or gristle….It sounds more like a Warren Ellis book then BKV.

    • The difference here being is that those things are part of the story as opposed to being tacked on just for the sake of it.

    • how are goat horns, pixie wings and television heads part of this story?

    • I don’t think they were part of the story, just needless gratuity in a couple of place that didn’t really serve the story at all. At least Ellis has the good graces to not try to intellectualise his sonic bowel disruptor.

  26. First off, I hope you’re getting better Conor! Great review despite the meds. Playing with pain, dudes a machine!

    I had Saga as my POTW too. After being a super hero reader forever, I’ve found that I’m looking forward to non SH books more every week. Sixth Gun, Manhattan Projects, Spaceman, Fatale, and now add Saucer Country and Saga to that. Hell I almost forgot Walking Dead and Scalped which I read in trades.

    If it wasn’t for Batman books, Flash, and GL I wouldn’t be reading any super hero books. Of the New 52 it’s Swamp Thing and Animal Man that I’m enjoying the most.

  27. So far it’s basically Romeo and Juliet in space if they hadn’t decided on mutual suicide.

  28. @judgejoyce I actually have, and it was fun and all…but I just didn’t get that into it for some reason.

  29. Conor,

    No disclaimer was necessary. Even on drugs and in pain, you knocked it out of the park. I hope your back gets better soon.

    I loved Saga. It was the first, and best, of all the comics I read this week. The birth scene hooked me. Well, that plus the robot sex. I think BKV is on his A game with this one. I can’t wait for the second issue.

    The only thing I would take exception with is the comment of the dearth of sci-fi comics in recent years. While I would agree with that statement on the whole, I can’t help but mention “Fear Agent” by Rick Remender. Or “Godland” for that matter. Both of these have represented sci-fi well.

    Peace Out,


  30. Strange world when robot sex doesn’t faze me but a talking crocodile seems like to much…

  31. Hmmm, kind of underwhelmed by this book. I liked the art and the narrative choice of using the child in the background but the actual story and characters all seemed a bit half assed, thrown together and lacking in maturity.

  32. The references to things in our world dragged me right out of the story. Most of it was pretty good, so I’ll get the next few issues as a sort of “probationary” pull title.

  33. Loved Saga #1 and told my LCS to order some extra copies if they can cause its gonna be good, this is right after the 1st news of it being released and the 1st time you guys published that advanced review you later re-posted closer to its release. All the copies in print were spoken for and my regular LCS couldn’t even get anymore copies, so I went to my other LCS(I’m fortunate that way), called ahead and asked the owner to hold me two copies, one for my friend whom I knew would like it and wasn’t familiar or at least read any Brian K Vaughn, this shops forte is Indie comix so getting two copies from them was no biggie cause they ordered plenty. Anyway, good review, sedatives n all and leads me to an article idea you guys might consider? : An article on ordering in shops weighing in the demographics, how many Indie titles, how many mainstream, over ordering/under ordering, knowing your fan base, sales predictions dealing with declining sales due to customers requesting copies then never picking them up. It might sound like a lot but is a subject I’ve talked about w my two lcs’s and its all relative.

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