Aspen Times Weekly book review: ‘Saga: Book One’ |

Aspen Times Weekly book review: ‘Saga: Book One’


‘Saga: Book One’

by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples

504 pages, hardcover; $49.99

Image Comics, 2014

A pair of star-crossed lovers take their lives across the galaxy in “Saga.” The acclaimed comic book series, now collected in this gorgeous hardcover edition, is a compulsively readable sci-fi epic for grown-ups.

Alana and Marko are soldiers on the opposite sides of an endless war between the winged people of Landfall and the horned people of Wreath. “Saga” begins as Alana gives birth to their daughter, Hazel, who narrates from an unspecified future. Both sides of the war – and seemingly everyone in the universe – are out to kill the newlyweds for their treasonous union.

On the run, they hop from planet to planet in a flying tree with a snarky, dismembered teen ghost named Izabel as their babysitter, doing bloody battle along the way. Though the world writer Brian K. Vaughan and artist Fiona Staples create here is wildly fantastical, the themes in “Saga” are universal. You could easily read it as a parable about the Arab-Israeli conflict (a reclusive, one-eyed alcoholic novelist character who writes subversive books about pacifism suggests maybe you should).

And you’ll no doubt find some of yourself in its pages, blending an operatic “Star Wars” intergalactic goofiness with what at its heart is a story about love and family. Alana and Marko fight off a dizzying (insane, really) cast of monsters in between discussions about breastfeeding, child-rearing, old flames and annoying in-laws (when Marko’s parents show up at a critical moment, via magic transporter helmets, the way it plays out will be familiar to any couple that’s endured an unannounced parental drop-in).

The story includes broad humor, explicit sex, meditations on the culture of violence, explorations of journalistic ethics, and inspired creatures like Lying Cat, who has the power to tell lies from truth, and turns out to be one of Vaughan’s most original and compelling creations. Whether or not you’ve ever opened a comic book, “Saga” is worth a read.

This hardcover edition, released in November, collects the first 18 issues of the “Saga” series, with extras for super-fans in the back of the book that include sketches, script pages and a behind-the-scenes discussion between its creators about the making of the comic.

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