(Image Comics, 2013)
Review by Shawn Warner
Written by: Brian K. Vaughan
Artwork by: Fiona Staples
Lettering by: Fonographiks
Please indulge me while I state the glaringly obvious, Saga is one of the most brilliant comic books ever conceived by human mind and executed by human hand. The key word here being human because that is what makes this book so captivating and gratifying issue after issue and propels it to the top of my reading stake every time it comes out, the humanity, which is something even more extraordinary when you consider that none of these characters are human. Brian K. Vaughn and Fiona Staples have created some of the most interesting and endearing characters in recent history, Marko and Alana are destined for pop culture superstardom, they are iconic rebels with a Bonnie and Clyde dynamic minus the moral turpitude but it’s not just the main characters, the supporting cast is just as genuine. Vaughn has imbued them with just as much depth, charisma and overall personality; The Will and Lying Cat create a particularly unique paradigm building on the man and animal traveling companion we have seen so many times before, Oswald Heist, Gwendolyn and Marko’s loving parents, not to mention Prince Robot and his co-horts, this is by no means an exhaustive list of the wonderfully innovative and original cast of players and creatures both whimsical and fantastic with which Vaughn has populated the worlds of Saga.
Saga is a perfect collaborative effort; Fiona Staples visually takes us to the worlds that Vaughn so meticulously creates with his words. Staples has not turned out one less than magnificent page since issue one. She has outperformed any adjective one could use to praise her work. Vaughn has masterfully breathed life into these characters with razor-sharp dialogue, rapier wit and an abundance of heart. Saga is much more than the sum of its collective parts; social satire and science fiction meet poignant love story and high fantasy adventure but at its core Saga is the story of an enduring family, there is truly something for everyone in these pages.
This issue is filled to overflowing with comic book goodness; we get to know Marko and Alana even deeper as they expound on their plans for their daughter’s future as well as their own, along the way we get a glimpse into Alana’s less than stellar military past courtesy of Countess Robot X, we learn of Oswald Heist’s love of the board game and Sophie becomes a real “pain in the neck” for The Will. There is a distinct cinematic quality to Vaughn’s writing which makes sense given his past experience as a television writer, story editor and producer for such shows as Lost and Under the Dome. His meticulous method of storytelling makes each issue of Saga important as Vaughn is a master of building to major plot points with dialogue as well as action; it is not unusual for him to take a year or more for one story. That seems to be the design for Saga, this is a journey we are taking with these characters that we come to know and care about along the way. Issue fifteen progresses the plot while providing valuable back story details and biographical elements.
Visually Fiona Staples is just as adept a storyteller as Vaughn. Her work is flawless in its consistency as well as aesthetically. Staples employs a clean, fine line style that is detailed and dynamic while maintaining a sense of realistic anatomy and perspective. Her character designs are truly unique and inventive giving Saga a galaxy of races and species that rivals Star Trek in its versatility. I am amazed by her work every single month; from cover to cover she kills.
Saga #15 is a perfect example of how good a comic book can be. It has everything any good story should have; compelling, endearing protagonists, malevolent antagonists and an absorbing narrative that keeps the pages turning at a high rate of speed, throw in some of the most gorgeous artwork currently available and you have Saga #15. This one has it all, a perfect 5/5. What remains to be said except if you are not currently reading Saga please go directly to your local comic book store and buy a copy of the first two trades and the three most recent issues. That will get you caught up for just under thirty dollars; believe me that is money well spent. So until next time, see you at the comic book store.
Follow Shawn Warner on Twitter: @shawnwarner629