Friday, March 22, 2013

Saga: Volume One by Brian K. Vaughan

The universe has declared war on itself and everyone is choosing one of two sides. It all started when the species on a planet tried to conquer a species on its own moon. The destuction knows no end, but amongst the slaughter, within the dismal senselessness of bloodshed, there is a child born. She is the daughter of Alana and Marko, who are supposed to be enemies. Now all three are on the run. Saga: Volume One is the beginning of their story.

Writer Brian K. Vaughan has a talent for combining mature content with equally mature themes, creating an exciting yet strictly adult epic adventure. Sure, there are spaceships, monstrous aliens and bounty hunters -- all stuff that you would see in Star Wars—but there are also images of brutal violence and the planet Sextillion, a intergalactic red-light district of sorts. This adventure is not for the kids.

Fiona Staples' artwork tackles the narrative with surreal panache, creating vampy arachnid assassins, alligator butlers, and a race of T.V.-headed royals. Everywhere you turn, there is something new. And yet the story is still relatable when it addresses the challenges of remaining a loving couple in trying times. Alana and Marko have everything stacked against them, but they also have each other.  Parenting and science fiction don't cross paths very often, but when they do the result can be quite revelatory. You have the movie Aliens where Sigourney Weaver's Ripley and the Alien queen perform mothering roles, albiet in direct opposition to each other. Cormac McCarthy's dystopian Pulitzer winner The Road is a deep meditation of fatherhood and the purpose of it when all of humanity seems destined for extinction. In these stories, the crux of the plot is about keeping the ones you care for alive, whatever the cost.

 Alana and Marko have a long way to go before they find safety and happiness for their child, with no guarantee that they ever do. We do receive one clue of what is to come in the fact that the book's narrator is their daughter Hazel, looking back as an adult. Vaughan has expressed hope that this will be his longest comic series to date. He has proven himself before with his ten-book series Y: The Last Man, in which every male of every species on the planet Earth drops dead in one instant, except for Yorick, a twenty-something slacker who is now a hot commodity and in a dangerous situation with a mystery to solve. If Saga: Volume One is any indication, this adventure will be just as thrilling.

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