Pick of the Week

Pick of the Week – 04.11.2012 – Saga #2

What did the
iFanboy
community think?

1447
Pulls
Avg Rating: 4.7
iFanboy Community Pick of the Week Percentage: 63.9%
 
Users who pulled this comic:
Story by Brian K Vaughan
Art by Fiona Staples
Cover by Fiona Staples

Size: 0 pages
Price: 2.99

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.

Josh Flanagan
I’d take an ad for Saga any day.
josh@ifanboy.com

Read Saga #2 on Graphicly!


Comments

  1. …and the saga continues.

  2. Saga #1 made me read Y- The Last Man in it’s entirety in trades. So mind blowingly awesome. I laughed. I cried. Now I miss the whole cast of characters terribly. Unfortunately my expectations for Saga are pretty damn high now. So far it seems to be delivering and I am oh so happy about that.

    • I reread Y: the Last man after the first issue of Saga came out, and am experiencing the same feelings of withdrawl. Such a mind-blowingly awesome tale.

      Saga has been superb so far, and with the addition of characters like The Stalk, I can tell it will be a truly memorable story. Now to just get my girlfriend to give it a try…

  3. “Iā€™d take an ad for Saga any day”

    Nice.

    Can’t wait to read this.

  4. Couldn’t agree with you more, Josh. I also loved this month’s Peter Panzerfaust.

  5. Great pick. i’m still trying to decide between this and ConanThe Barbarian #3.

  6. Haven’t gotten to my Image books yet, so I can’t say if this is going to make my personal POTW, but I can say it’s going to be pretty damn hard to beat Fantastic Four 605. I got a lump in my throat at the end, and it stands as a testament to Johnathan Hickman’s work with these characters.

    • Sticking with Fantastic Four. Saga was pretty damn good, but didn’t have the heart that F4 had. Love the world building that BKV is doing, though. The setting feels real. Not too sure what I thought about that last page. Kinda felt incongruous. We’ll see where issue three takes us.

  7. I haven’t read Peter Panzerfaust yet, but it will be hard pressed to top Saga this week. I loved the first two issues of Saga. Josh, you nailed it, Saga is fun, surprising and insanely well crafted. It’s going to be an awesome ride!

  8. Great choice Josh! I completely agree! The quality of this book isn’t fair to other comics.

  9. Love that this book really let’s us see the weird side of Vaughan, that’s something that we only got hints of in ex machina. Seems like he really wants to go nuts in saga, and I love it!

  10. I was all set to declare Fantastic Four my pick, but then I read this and dangit, it just keeps getting better.

  11. i agree, saga was simply great. however, i do have one issues with staples’ art. everyone is loving her for her character design and especially their expressions, but nobody is really mentioning her backgrounds. i know that at its core, this is a family story, a very character driven piece, and therefore, the acting of the characters is probably the most important aspect of the art.
    but it is also a fantasy (or si-fi) story. and i get the feeling that when she tries to show me those fantastic worlds that her style does not really work. for example the very first page with the little spaceship just doesn’t completely work for me. the art doesn’t create a fantastic landscape to marvel at (which was always an appealing aspect of fantasy for me: the world itself). especially when characters interact or just stand in the world around, them they seem kinda disconnected (almost like stickers on the background).
    but still, this is a great book and maybe i just have the wrong expectations of it as a fantasy-like story.

  12. Read saga 1&2 on my phone today great reads but not my ouck. I had a hard choose between fantastic four 605 and avenging Spider-Man 6. So I went with my heart and my pick is avenging Spider-Man 6. I will say this saga is great digitally

  13. i need to start getting this book, i’m hearing so much great stuff about it. also, “i’d take an ad for saga anyday” made me laugh pretty hard. well played, sir.

    • well, i’ve read the first two issues and i already have no idea how i’ll be able to wait for issue 3. this book is so f-ing awesome! maybe i’ll just read these over and over until the wait is over, but maybe it’s time for me to read y the last man. i think it is. is fiona staples doing anything else? because she’s awesome too.

  14. This book is amazing. Love it so hard.

  15. “Damn, bitch”

    But no, I had the most fun reading Scarlet Spider this week. Stegman is just on another level.

  16. Yes. And a shout out is needed for the customer survey at the back. One minute I’m laughing out loud, the next I’m firmly abandoning the rest of my stack to write my own story for a while.

    Thanks, BKV.

    • Oh, but for the love of pity, please please please please go check out Star Wars: Agent of the Empire. Best SW story since Return of the Jedi, and a straight up awesome covert-ops space opera. Any other week, it would have been my POW…

  17. With Scalped and Hickman’s run on F4 coming to an end this year its going to be nice to have this one.

  18. I preferred Saucer Country myself.

  19. Seriously hope that this issue is better than the first – if not it’s for the chop as far as I am concerned. That first issue was the most over-hyped comic issue I’ve seen in a long time for something that was average at best (outside of the art which was very good).

  20. I like this a whole lot, but Fantastic Four was my pick of the week!

  21. I actually liked this issue more than the first.

  22. Totally agree. What i find most remarkable about these first two issues is Vaughn’s and Staples’ ability to draw me in on a page by page basis. Its almost magnetic. These are brand new characters, and a strange world, yet i’m all in, whereas usually it takes me a while to warm up to things…..this is going to be a fun adventure.

  23. I picked up issue one and two yesterday and read them both. The first issue you really get your moneys worth thats for sure, the second one less pages when you are wanting more. I gave both issues a 4, I thought this was very original and really hard to put down once you started reading it. The artwork was a little simplistic and felt like it could use something a little more advanced although; on and artsy side of things I guess it kinda of fits. I will be adding this to my pull list at the store and it should easily fill the GA spot that just opened up last week.

    K

  24. THIS GUY.

    i had to skip over much of this article because i’m waiting for the trade — like a chump — but i’m really geeked to read the phrase “i don’t know what this is” in a review. that’s exciting and it’s great to have bkv back.

    that cover is awesome too, despite it lack of boob-ness.

  25. I’m not done with my stack but right now it’s a toss up between this and Glory #3 for my pick. Both were crazy awesome.

  26. What an amazing second Issue. Even better than the first. This was fantastic. How cool is “The Stalk”! Very excited about this series.

  27. With Scalped coming to a close, SAGA comes at a perfect time to replace it as my favorate monthly title.

  28. This is ridiculously fabulous. I’ve loved every page from both issues.

  29. Nice write up, Josh. You hit the nail on the head about what makes BKV so awesome. A much needed breath of fresh air.

  30. It was between Saga and Thief of Thieves for me this week, but Saga gets my pick because as much as Thief of Thieves is shaping up to be really good crime fiction, I’ve already read a lot of really good crime fiction.

    I don’t think I’ve ever read anything like Saga. šŸ™‚

  31. There’s a reason this book is selling as many copies as the Walking Dead the last two months. It took the Walkind Dead nearly a decade and a hit cable television show before it sold 30K copies each month. I can’t say enough good things about this series! If I could only get my hands on a copy of the Diamond RRP Variant cover of Saga 1 (limited to 500 copies). Vaughan and Staples are quickly fighting their way to the head of a crowd of Image titles that are easily the best new books on the market.

  32. This got POTW for me as well. I loved Saucer County and Secret and Secret Service were very enjoyable, but this is in a whole different category. I echo the sentiment that it’s great to have a book like this now.

  33. I just read this issue of SAGA. It’s pretty fantastic. I agree with all the praise

    One thought: there’s no way this is science fiction. It’s definitely high fantasy

  34. I’ll take that dare.

    So far I’ve found 4 books that, by my reckoning, are better than Saga this week. I still haven’t even finished all my books.

    Saga is good, but it ain’t the bomb diggity to me just yet. Still just a 4 star book. I’m always surprised when things get blown up like this, assholes begin getting licked, and then I read it and don’t see how there could be such extreme enthusiasm behind the title.

    My tastes suck. I want to be excited too.

  35. I loved Secret Avengers and Fantastic Four. I’ve yet to read Avenging and Scarlet Spider, and dropped JIM due to lack of interest. You’re right though. I would say Secret Avengers and Fantastic Four are on equal footing with issue #2. I’m just very enamored with Vaughan’s work, so I’m more partial to pick his work…for the moment. There’s still an excitement factor of having a new book of his that I’m confident will wear off after a few more issues.

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