If you’re looking for a fun summer read filled with beautiful art, look no further than Brian K. Vaughan & Fiona Staples’s Saga.
Since I started putting these little book reviews up, I’ve debated on whether I should include comics. There was a point where I was a voracious comic book reader, but shortly after DC’s reboot I began to feel that comics were no longer for me. I stopped being able to relate to the stories, and rather frankly, I couldn’t relate to the vast majority of comic fans either. At the same time, analysis of comics was starting to gain popularity in academia, and let me tell you, it is a whole new kind of painful to be stuck in a class for a whole semester with someone with a rudimentary (at best) understanding of both comics and feminist theory who attempts to relate everything to Birds of Prey and Firefly. But I digress.
I heard about Saga through a good friend who has never stopped trying to get me back into comics. What a great hook! Saga has it all: a likeable narrator, fresh art, a melding of fantasy and sci-fi that reads like a war story, amazing character development, and the very best cliffhangers you will encounter in comic form. Most importantly, I find myself reading Saga to see how the characters react and interact with each other. This is a truly human story. What I like much less about the book is the amount of swearing. It’s not that I’m opposed to swearing, it’s that I feel like Vaughan relies on it too much and that it is largely unnecessary. It reads as a hasty shortcut to denote seriousness, levity, coarseness, or shared humanity. Further, I found myself taken out of the impressive and immersive world Saga builds when nearly all of the characters share the same expletive-laced phrases.
I have mixed feelings about Saga. I think I need to see where it goes. There is so much to appreciate and enjoy about this book, and at less than $15 a volume this book is still a real value even if it ends up tanking. Saga pleasantly surprises me again and again, which is not something that I can say about most other stories. However, this title is not for children. The themes of war, love, friendship, life, and death are adult themes and are treated as such. So, pick up Saga and prepare to be entertained while appreciating some very solid art. As for me, I’m about to purchase Saga: Volume 3, and if the last two volumes are any indication, it’ll leave me eagerly anticipating volume 4.