When one is starting out in the comics world, you may find yourself receiving messages of recommendation from those around you who know what you should read and what you should avoid. I guarantee that one of the titles you’ll be told to buy right away is Saga by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples.
As one of the most original and well written comics out there, this is indeed your first stop in the realm of comics that don’t rely on the typical superhero trope. It not only has powerful themes of race and war and overcoming differences for the sake of peace and love, it also features some of the most memorable and well thought out characters in the comics world.
This award-winning comic has been described as Star Wars meets Game of Thrones but there’s a lot of Romeo and Juliet in there as well with just a touch of Lord of the Rings. But hey, you be the judge.
Saga is the story of Alana and Marko, two lovers who are from very different worlds, worlds that happen to be warring with each other which makes their bond both forbidden and impossible. She comes from a technologically advanced society called the Landfall Coalition on Landfall, the largest planet in the galaxy. He is from Wreath, Landfall’s only satellite, and his people wield magic. The two cultures are warring with each other but they’ve outsourced the war to other planets because if it was conducted on their home planets, the inevitable destruction would send one of the worlds spinning out of orbit.
Species on other planets were forced to pick a side between Landfall and Wreath, which causes a lot of problems. Alana and Marko met when she was on guard duty in a prison on the planet Cleave after he became a prisoner of war. The attraction between the two was almost immediate and it’s great to see believable chemistry between two fictional characters; that level of intimacy draws the reader in immediately and gets you hooked. Reading Saga will set you up with personal interest in this little family trying to make it in a tough world.
The two escaped from the prison in Cleave about twelve hours after meeting and Alana soon gives birth to a baby daughter, Hazel, who occasionally narrates the series. She, Alana and Marko are on the iconic cover of volume 1 with Hazel feeding at Alana’s breast and Marko protecting them both. They end up pursued by both of their species as their separate cultures find it hard to believe that they mated voluntarily. This gives a good idea into the level of shame and rarity that comes with these two very different species mixing.
They’re relentlessly pursued by Prince Robot IV as well as Wreathers and Landfallians because, if people find out that they have mated, it will spread among the troops and damage morale. The prince’s ‘colleague’ of sorts on Wreath, a mercenary named The Will, plays a big part in the series as well as his pet, Lying Cat who, as you may have guessed, knows when someone is lying. The Will’s fellow mercenary, The Stalk, is one of the most memorable anti-heroes in comics with her unique, terrifying yet seductive look.
Throughout the series, we learn more about Marko’s upbringing and his parents, as well as Marko’s ex-fiancée, Gwendolyn, as she pursues her ex-lover with the help of The Will and a six year old sex slave called Sophie. That’s another thing to note about this series; it brings up very serious themes like child slavery, sex slavery and cross-cultural understanding as well as PTSD.
The family soon take refuge at the home of a writer called D. Oswald Heist, the author of Alana’s favourite novel (one which, as it turns out, was instrumental in inspiring Alana to help Marko escape from prison and run away with him, making them both traitors).
We soon enter the third arc of Saga which Vaughan described as ‘a big tonal shift’. We’re introduced to sleazy journalists, Upsher and Doff, as they chase the two lovers across the galaxy. During the fourth arc the family takes refugee on the planet Gardenia, with Alana acting in an underground entertainment program called the Open Circuit where all actors are required to wear masks (which is pretty handy when it comes to fugitives attempting to find work).
At this point in the story, Hazel can speak very basic sentences and Prince Robot IV’s son, Squire, is born. This happy moment for the mentally deranged Prince Robot is very short-lived as a robot janitor, Dengo, ends up kidnapping both Squire, the family and ends up killing Prince Robot’s wife.
The family sets down on a frozen region where Dengo meets with revolutionaries who want to use Hazel as a pawn in their campaign against Landfall and Wreath. Dengo ends up dead after he turns on the revolutionaries and is killed by Prince Robot who is soon reunited with his son. Marko and Alana, too, end up together again (as they always do) but Hazel is sent to a Landfallian prison. Needless to say, this doesn’t go down well with the two star-crossed lovers.
As the story stands now, Alana and Marko are in the middle of a search for their loved ones.
A stunning series with beautiful and expressive art, Saga is sure to become a fast favourite of yours; it will pull on your heart strings and make you laugh out loud. If you’re looking to start any new story today, Saga is number one on our ‘most recommended’ list.
Have you read Saga? What do you think of the story? Would you recommend it to a friend? Let us know in the comments!