I first started doing these “Read This” posts because of a common sentiment in a lot of the Watchmen Prequels discussions. It ran along the lines of “at least I have something in comics to be excited about now.” That just seemed so crazy to me. There are good comics everywhere, don’t you know? But there are only so many worth being excited about. Saga is one of those.
The important stuff first: Saga is the new ongoing series from Brian K. Vaughn and Fiona Staples. Vaughn is the writer of some of the best comics in recent memory: Ex Machina, Pride of Baghdad, Y: The Last Man, and various short superhero stories. Like Y and Ex Machina, Saga is an entirely original piece of fiction, so no worries about continuity.
Unlike Y and Ex Machina, Saga is very much fantasy. Not that Y and Ex Machina didn’t have fantastic elements, but they stayed pretty grounded. Saga is a story of star-crossed lovers caught in a war between two great societies in space, one of which is known for magic. And that’s not the craziest bit, there’s all kinds of strange elements that lend a bit of a Wizard of Oz feel to everything (okay, the might just be the monkey mechanic in the first issue).
Under all the fantasy elements is Vaughn’s typically tight and fun writing, plus Staples’ wonderfully expressive art. Going into the realm of fantasy means so many chances to draw something that just falls flat, but Staples’ designs are so good they could steal the show. The Robot Monarchy in particular is something I’d be doodling in a notebook every day if I wasn’t in front of a computer instead.
The real heart of the story, though, is Vaughn’s sincerity. At the risk of reducing some great comics to small gestures I think there’s a bit of a through-line to Vaughn’s three big works. Y is all about relationships, person-to-person, and romantic relationships in particular. Ex Machina revolves around the concept of home and the power of places. It’s easy to form a narrative out of those two, of growing up while falling in love and leaving home. Saga, on the other hand, is all about being a parent. Not just literally (the main action of the series is all about the star-crossed lovers’ kid, it starts with her birth) but also in the interplay between these outlandish children’s fantasies of rocketship forests seen through adult eyes.
I could probably go on for quite a while longer, but since we’re only two issues in that seems a bit premature. For now my thoughts are this: Saga is probably the best comic currently being published.