SAGA #5

Review by: The Mike

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Story by Brian K. Vaughan
Art by Fiona Staples

Size: 0 pages
Price: 2.99

First of all, I should note that this is really my review of Saga as a whole more than this one particular issue.

I didn’t finally give in and pick up this comic until last issue. Call it peer pressure but seeing this thing continually dominate the “pick of the week” podcast got me curious enough to grab the first issue digitally. The line they used to sell it on that particular comics distribution site was “It’s like Star Wars meets Game of Thrones!” which struck me as the most obnoxious type of name-dropping bullshit. After reading, and loving, the first issue and devouring the four proceeding ones I can tell you it is NOTHING like Star Wars or Game of Thrones. Truthfully, it’s nothing like ANYTHING. That’s why it’s so damn awesome.

If I had to classify the genre for this comic, I guess I’d describe it as a darkly comic sci-fi fantasy. That doesn’t even really cover it though. What it is, frankly, is fucking nuts. I mean, the robots in this universe look identical to humans even down to being anatomically correct, yet they have old televisions for heads- as if their creators just got bored when they reached that part of the body and finished building them with whatever they had lying around. A winged, technologically advanced species is waging war with a race of spell-slinging goat-men. One character owns a cat that doubles as a lie detector, and another recurring character is the ghost of a teenage girl who’s just a flying torso complete with dangling intestines. Yeah…NUTS.

Despite this though, Brian K. Vaughan writes his characters in a way that is extremely human and believable. All of the bizarre visuals are accompanied by dialogue that could have been spoken by someone you know. There’s no babbling in techno-speak or long winded world-building soliloquies here. The dialogue is all easy-breezey stuff that flows so naturally it almost feels like you’re hearing your own inner monologue rather than reading. While that might seem out of place in a book that isn’t earthbound in any way, the dichotomy between the intensely otherworldly visuals and the casual dialogue is one of the book’s most intriguing qualities.

And then there’s Fiona Staples. If you’re a whatever-the-opposite-of-an-art-major-is like me, at first you’ll probably hear all of the hype about her art only to at first think “What’s the big deal?” when you actually see it yourself. It has a simple, Saturday morning cartoon (albeit, with boobies) quality that doesn’t reach out and slap you in the face as much as, say, the Jim Lee Splash pages in Justice League. You start to realize though that the brilliance of her art is in the subtlety of the performances the various characters give. The expressions here are so nuanced, so believable! Normally it’s in the intimate moments in which facial expression become extremely important where otherwise good comic book artists start to fall apart. She not only keeps from falling apart, she excels here. Not that I’m saying she’s ONLY good when she’s subtle. Her monster designs are some of the most bizarre and fascinating I’ve ever seen. When it comes to character design, she kicks the previously mentioned Jim Lee’s ass up and down the block.

It’s hard to review the individual issues so far, because there isn’t much to say about one that you can’t repeat verbatim about another. Here, what’s good is always good. There’s a high bar for quality that is consistently being meant. I will say that there’s a bit more action in this issue and a bit less crazy-sex planet; what you prefer may differ. What I really want to see is “The Will” meet up with our main characters, as I feel that’s going to be the most interesting storyline by far…and unfortunately it feels like we’re taking baby steps in getting there. Hopefully the events of this issues final panel spur The Will into action, but honestly, either way I’m a lifer with this one. I’ll be pulling this every week until it goes out of print.

Story: 5 - Excellent
Art: 5 - Excellent

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