An infrequent reader of comics and graphic novels, I was intrigued by the Saga series, mainly because of the glowing reviews from Malin. It promised several of the most fun genre conventions: epic war, forbidden romance between opposite sides of battle lines, mercenary assassins, imaginative new alien species, and MAGIC!
Our narrator is Hazel, child of Alana and Marko, the forbidden lovers. So far, the narration has been retrospective, but still not completely linear. We enter in the middle of Alana and Marko on the run, first from the opposing armies they both defected from, but then eventually also from privately contracted mercenaries hired to kill them. We learn that not only did they meet in a prison, where Marko had been captured and Alana was supposed to be his guard, but that there is invested interest by both warring factions to bury their romance and escape.
You see, where the war initially started between one planet and its inhabited moon, eventually those two bodies contracted the military and financial involvement an exponential number of other planets. The war, then, spread across the galaxy, and after some time, the two rocks that started the whole mess actually ended up sitting back and letting other planets do the fighting. For most who live there, now, the war is an abstract concept, one that is only justified by racial bigotry that they are indoctrinated with. So, with so much money and power invested in a war but with citizens who barely understand it, the concept of two lovers from opposite sides who can and have procreated is damaging to the propaganda against each others’ enemies.
I have no idea for how long Vaughan and Staples plan to continue this… saga… but I definitely get the sense that, after volume 3, the story is still in its very early stages. And yet, so much has already happened! I love fast-paced storytelling like this, that covers a lot of ground but patiently continues laying framework for a bigger picture that has yet to be revealed. Indeed, that is still where I am with the story — I’ve followed all of the subplots diligently to this point, but with every volume more subplots have been added, and on top of that I still am uncertain how large the whole scope of the story is and where the cohesive picture is going! It’s a little fractured and confusing, but each story thread is expertly told and illustrated. Staples’ drawings have a unique style that, as neither an artist nor a disciple of comic-style art, I can’t really describe or offer comparisons for, but I was very taken with the color and boldness of the art.
I am definitely going to keep going with this series, though now that I’ve caught up and read through chapter 19 I’m pointedly feeling impatience with how long each new installment takes (months!) vs. how long it takes me to read a chapter (about 10 minutes!) Is this how fans of comics always feel? Woe!