Written by BRIAN K. VAUGHAN
Art by FIONA STAPLES
Letters by FONOGRAFIKS
“It doesn’t take a village to raise children, it takes a whole galaxy – former friends, random acquaintances, complete strangers…”
Basically, raising a child takes everything you’ve got, and in Saga, new parents Alana and Marko are giving their all so their daughter can have a chance at living in worlds that’d be happy to see her dead. Very quickly this series became a favorite for many, and while it could be because of Fiona Staples incredible artwork or the impressive world building of Bryan K. Vaughn, at the heart of it, Saga is about family, and that’s something we all relate to. This third issue sees their family growing. With Marko wounded and desperately in need of a healing spell, he sits most of this issue out, leaving Alana to face The Horrors and keep little Hazel safe. If the heart of Saga is about family and the sacrifices you make for family, Chapter 3 is about who comprises your family. Is it those related to us through blood, those we were raised with, or something else entirely?
We meet The Horrors, who we were given good reason to be afraid of since at the mere mention of them the bounty hunter, The Stalk, was sent running away on all eight legs, but the only thing horrific about them is their fate. The Horrors are the dead of the planet Cleave, ghosts destined to continue defending their homeworld even in death. They’re illustrated totally in a pinkish red hue. It’s so simple but brilliant because these ghosts really pop against the nighttime tones of everything else. Being intangible, they’re not really a threat and it doesn’t take long for one of The Horrors to offer to help.
Her name is Izabel, and its the interactions between her and Alana that makes this issue so good. With Marko bleeding out Alana’s all on her own and it quickly becomes obvious she isn’t a woman whose trust is earned easily. Watching these two grow to know each other is not only endearing but pretty funny at times. For one, Izabel reveals she was the oldest of seven kids so she has a few tricks to teach new mother, Alana, and the way Staples illustrates Alana’s reluctant acceptance of Izabel’s help is priceless. The expressions Staples is able to create are why these characters, though complete fantasy, come off so real. The moment Alana finally fully trusts Izabel is when we learn she died in her parent’s rebellion, or revolution, depending on who you ask. And you have to wonder if Alana’s seeing what could be Hazel’s future, where she pays a dear price for her parent’s war, and with that realization Alana allows Izabel to become part of the family.
The world Vaughn has created is one of the most fascinating I’ve read, especially because of how little we really know about! He presents everything on a need to know basis; winged people are fighting horned folks, robot overlords with televisions for heads pull the strings, there’s magic, there’s futuristic technology, something of an organized league of bounty hunters. We’re never told why any of this is the way things are but because Vaughn is presenting it so matter of factly, you don’t really care. The characters and situations are relatable, it doesn’t matter that everything else is so alien.
In this issue the plot is really starting to roll. With a new ally Marko might live and he, his wife and child just might make it off the planet. Though I fear even then they won’t be completely safe. There’s still a bounty on their heads after all. Which brings me to a short scene between The Stalk and The Will that just felt unnecessary. While on the run from some indigenous beasties The Stalk calls The Will, and they have a quick chat that changes nothing. Maybe this short scene was inserted so we’d understand The Stalk and The Will have a past, and maybe that’ll become important later on, but in this issue it takes focus away from our main story of why Alana and Marko ran away together and how they’ll continue to survive together.
You just have to take one look at Sagato know why so many people are hooked. Staples is knocking it out of the park and I hope this means we’ll be seeing her work in more and more books. I’ve already mentioned her wonderful expressions, but really everything she does is fantastic. From the strange designs of characters and places to the beautiful color work, you’d think this was a real world Staples was presenting not just the brilliant insanity spilling out of her head. I really don’t believe there’s a more original looking book out there right now than Saga.
Clearly, I’ve made my job easy by reviewing such a spectacular book. I think what Vaughan and Staples have here is really special, and I’m glad they’re publishing it through a company like Image who will be more than happy to let them continue their bizarre little adventure mostly undisturbed. Saga may at first appear a wild, space opera of a tale, but it’s really one of the most down to Earth, normal stories of a family trying to survive, and what sorts of sacrifices will need to be taken along the way.