Killing Me Slowly

A leopardess who learned how to dance. And read.
Saga, Volume 1 - Brian K. Vaughan, Fiona Staples Saga is fucking amazing. If I could ever convince you guys to go out and buy a comic, it would be this. I literally finished reading it like an hour ago, and got up to write this blog because I loved it and I want to tell everyone that I loved it and that they should read it.

The premise is exactly what it says on the tin: Alana and Marko come from opposite sides of warring races who fell in love. They have a child (in the first issue), and spend the next five trying to stay together and stay alive, in the face of bounty hunters, monsters, and two governments that want to see them dead. I've heard it called Romeo and Juliet meets Star Wars, but I feel like that's doing it a bit of a disservice.

For one, the leads, Alana and Marko, are no lovelorn teenagers, okay? They're adults, thank god, and they have a really great, comfortable relationship dynamic that I'd love to see more of. Though Alana is definitely the more aggressive of the two, and Marko more easy-going, they bicker and banter and kiss and play and generally engage in a relationship of equals. They parent together, they fight together, and they make decisions together. It's not Alana following Marko, or visa versa, and there's no trace of an inherent power imbalance. I love it! It's so nice to find this kind of relationship in any medium.

Alana is shaping up to become on of my favorite female characters - she's fierce and brazen and capable and resolved and hot-headed and funny and smart' and the narrative doesn't condemn her for any of that. I love the expressions that artist Fiona Staples gives her: the "you've gotta be kidding me"s and the angry glares and the tender smiles she and Marko share. There's just so much personality in the characters that comes across in both the writing and the art.

I really liked Marko as well - I found it endearing that he cried without shame at the birth of his daughter, and that his vow of nonviolence was kind of pompous but sincere, yet he broke it without hesitation to defend his family. He, too, was a very likable character.

Really, most of the characters were - and that's another thing I enjoyed about the book. Even the antagonists - the monarchs and government leaders who want Alana and Marko dead, the "Freelancer" bounty hunters they sent after them, the "monsters" in the evil woods - they're all, well, likable. They all have understandable motivations, despite what they're doing. They're not mustache-twirling evil McAssholes - they're just people in opposing situations.

Saga also features world-building at its finest. We're dropped in without any fucking idea what's going on or why or what this universe is like, but we're given enough information in context to suss it out for ourselves without being spoon-fed every little thing. The exposition doesn't feel like exposition, the quirks of the universe - rocket ships that grow on trees! robot people with TVs for heads! - don't feel like deus ex machina or hand-waving, it all just feels like an organic part of this very bizarre but wonderful universe Vaughan and Staples have created. In fact, "wonderful" is just the right word - there's this sense of wonder and scope and awe, especially in the art, that you just don't find very often.

If I had any criticisms or warnings, one would be that there is some unexpectedly dark stuff, especially around issue three or four, that's pretty disturbing and hard to read and reconcile, which I expect is the point. I also wasn't terribly thrilled with the early fridging of a potentially interesting character - to drive her male love interest, of course - but I'm personally kind of hoping that she comes back at some point. It is a comic, after all.

Also' this series is very, very adult. Very adult. ADULT.

But all in all, this is one of the best anythings I've read in a looooooooooooooong time, and you guys should all read it, too. It's only ten bucks! You won't regret it.

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