Being a new parent is a mixed blessing, or so I hear.
Basically, you’ve just succeeded in playing god. You helped bring a new life into the world, been at the forefront of creation and prevailed in perpetuating your genes into the next generation. Suddenly, though, you’re tending to this tiny, screaming, constantly hungry crap factory.
You’re exhausted, highly stressed, and completely clueless, trying to figure out how to keep this little life going in a world that seems like it was tailor-made to oppose you at every turn. Then robots with TVs for heads show up with laser guns on full-auto, trying to perforate you and your new family while you escape to the relative safety of your war-torn galaxy.
At least that’s what parenthood is fast becoming for Alana and Marko as they care for newborn Hazel in Brian K. Vaughan’s Saga, a new epic space/fantasy adventure from Image Comics. Now currently in its fourth issue, Saga marks Vaughan’s return to comics after his hiatus from the medium following the 2010 conclusion of Ex Machina (Vertigo).
Saga reads as something like the bastard child of Star Wars and Dead Leaves (a 2004 animated OVA from Production I.G.) with more immediate violence than the former and slightly less vulgarity than the latter (but only slightly). There is a war going on between the technologically advanced Coalition of Landfall and its small, magically inclined, satellite planet Wreath. Because one side can’t simply wipe the other out without destroying their home world in the process, the war has been outsourced to other planets in the immediate vicinity, creating a war that spans an entire galaxy. If the Hatfields were a winged race of tech-wielding soldiers led by robot overlords and the McCoys were spell-slinging beast men you have a good idea of the history and direction the story–interestingly narrated by the newborn Hazel–is going.
Visually, Fiona Staples (Mystery Society) has lent her impressive artistic skills to fully realize Vaughan’s space fantasy. The Robot overlords of Coalition are something out of a Orwellian nightmare, while their Wreathian counterparts are pulled straight from epic fantasy and mythology. Marko’s design calls to mind the Satyr or Faun, albeit more ram-like than goat, while Alana has the whole badass pixie look, updated for the time period with laser-enhanced stun gun.
In particular, my favorite visual element of the story is Staples’ hand lettering for Hazel’s narration. It adds an interesting childish quality to the story and makes it feel more like an intergalactic fairy-tale. The juxtaposition of Hazel’s narration and the often violent confrontations of her parents creates a unique tension. Alana and Marko must have somehow succeeded in getting Hazel to safety, but I’m worried about what they have lost along the way.
Exacerbating this growing anxiety are the antagonists currently chasing after our main characters. The Will, a top-ranked bounty hunter, has been hired by Wreath to bring back baby Hazel after disposing of the parents. Armed with moral ambiguity, near-unlimited funding, and a Lying Cat (you’ll have to read it to see it), The Will is ambling his way towards the unsuspecting parents. The Coalition of Landfall, not to be outdone, has called upon Prince Robot IV, a recently returned veteran of the war to slaughter the family. With the resources of the Coalition army behind him, the odds are mounted firmly against Marko, Alana, and Hazel.
Definitely worth checking out, Saga promises to live up to its name. Do yourself a favor and pick it up. You can purchase the comic HERE.
Author’s Note: I have been looking after a small child today while sporadically writing this article. God help me I’m never having children.