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Saga Volume 1 TP by Brian K Vaughan
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Saga Volume 1 TP (edition 2012)

by Brian K Vaughan

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1,027938,252 (4.29)95
Member:kitsuchi
Title:Saga Volume 1 TP
Authors:Brian K Vaughan
Info:Image Comics (2012), Paperback, 160 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:*****
Tags:read, comic, sci-fi

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Saga, Volume 1 by Brian K. Vaughan (Author)

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In the story of Saga the inhabitants of the world of Landfall has been at war with the inhabitants of its moon Wreath for so long that no one seems to remember when the war started, or even what it is about. All anyone seems to know is that the war has spread across the galaxy, drawing virtually every other known race into the conflict, and the two opposing sides loathe one another with an intense hatred. Against this backdrop Marko and Alana, originally soldiers from opposite sides in the struggle, have deserted the armies' of their respective homelands and fallen in love, gotten married, and had a child together. And this union sparks a crisis for both sides.

There is some rather obvious symbolism in centering a story around the birth of a child whose parents come from opposite sides of an ongoing intergalactic war, and there is no doubt that the story of Saga intends to use this metaphor quite often. The child, named Hazel, is born in the first few pages of the volume, and representatives of both Landfall and Wreath immediately show up to try to kill her parents and claim her as their prize. The rest of the volume details the efforts of Marko and Alana to find a way off of the planet Cleave to the relative safety of being on the run in interstellar space.

What makes Saga work so well is the world-building that shows through at the edges of what is really a fairly straightforward story. When the opposing forces show up for the first time, the reader gets a brief taste of the almost ritualized rules that have come to define the conflict - Marko protests to the coalition forces that they cannot attack him and his wife because they aren't on a sanctioned battlefield, and later the commander of the coalition forces radios for permission to engage the Wreath forces off-theater. Fleeting glimpses such as these build the world around the central characters tiny brick by tiny brick without becoming intrusive or distracting one from the action. The backdrop is fleshed out piece by piece - from the apparently human The Will with his sidekick Lying Cat, who is somehow able to determine when people are lying, to the spider-like The Stalk (who happens to be The Will's ex-girlfriend and ex-business partner), to the "horrible" ghosts of Cleave, who turn out to be the remnants of the planet's population wiped out by a war they didn't want to be part of, including the child Izabel who floats above the ground, her bottom half gone and a handful of ghostly entrails dangling below her torso. All of these elements blend together to create the bizarre and alien setting for the story that hint at a wider world beyond the panels that are presented to the reader and which elevates the book from an ordinary space opera to something special.

As two superpowers who fight their unceasing war by proxy, there are some fairly noticeable parallels between the Cold War conflict between the U.S. and U.S.S.R., as each seems to only rarely engage with their foe directly, preferring instead to fight against one another's allies. To a certain extent this serves to highlight just how similar the inhabitants of the two warring worlds are - the inhabitants of Wreath all have horns, while the inhabitants of Landfall all have wings. There is no identifiable pattern to these attributes: Marko has horns that curve backwards like a bighorn sheep, while his mother has little goat horns and his father has antlers. Alana has delicate insect like wings, while others from Landfall are shown with feathered or bat-like wings. In some ways, the variation among each individual planet's natives seems to be at least as great as the variation between the two sets of adversaries. And this makes the intense revulsion each side has for the mere appearance of the other seem all the more interesting - a revulsion that has been passed on to their allies, as evidenced by the reaction Prince Robot IV of the Robot Kingdom has when he is told that Alana had willingly had sex with Marko. Each side sees the other as monsters, with very little justification or reflection upon the actions of their own side.

As both Wreath and Landfall seek to hunt down and kill Marko and Alana and claim Hazel as a prize, they farm out the job to others to do. Landfall's government calls upon their allies in the Robot Kingdom to do the dirty work, while the rulers of Wreath contract with a collection of freelancers to track down their targets. Not only does each side want the star-crossed lovers killed, but they want the child that resulted from their union as their own - a seeming indication that each side regards the child as having some sort of importance. Because each side seems to think that news of Marko and Alana's relationship would scandalize everyone, one would think that having the child would not be of any propaganda value - as publicizing the child's existence and the reason why it is notable would rather clearly make keeping the parentage secret an impossibility. Like so many elements in Saga, the actual reason for each side to want to claim the child is a mystery, but one that the reader can have some confidence will be unraveled later.

And the plethora of unexplained elements is one of the most interesting things about the story of Saga. The tale is told in retrospect, apparently by Hazel after she has grown up, which raises the possibility that the narrator is unreliable, as the recollections related are ones that she had to have been told by others, making much of the story hearsay. But hints are dropped that things in the "present" for the narrator are very different than the way things are in the "past" of the story being told - the most tantalizing being when Hazel describes the time of her birth as being during a time of war, implying that by the time she is recounting the story for the reader, it is no longer a time of war. But there are smaller mysteries, such as why all of the freelancers are called "The", as in "The Will", and "The Stalk". Or why the princess of the Robot Kingdom describes the conflict as one of "good versus good". Or how does the magic used by the warriors from Wreath work? And, of course, the biggest questions: Is there any reason for the war to continue other than inertia, and can a single book provide the tiny spark of hope needed to stop it?

The further one digs into Saga, the more one finds. On the surface the story is fairly conventional in ways, but as one peels back the layers, one finds more and more layers of meaning underneath them. Questions raise more questions, which raise still further questions, most of which are as yet unanswered, and in some cases, seem impossible to answer. It is a story about love told using a setting defined almost entirely by hate, in which a dead teenager becomes the regular babysitter of a newborn baby, and in which lethal individuals such as The Will are indifferent to the human misery their murderous profession causes, but who are deeply affected by the plight of a young girl they come across. Saga is full of puzzling contradictions and and troubling questions, but also, and most importantly, complex and fascinating characters that make the reader care about the story and look forward to the next volume.

This review has also been posted to my blog Dreaming About Other Worlds. ( )
1 vote StormRaven | Mar 11, 2015 |
I was given this to read for a challenge. A BBC challenge for those in the "know". And no, not as in The British Broadcasting Corporation. But something much cooler. I have never read a graphic novel. This is my first one. And like a first kiss it was not what I expected. But unlike a first kiss, this was amazing.(Kissing is kinda weird) I was grabbed by the story, the artwork is really cool, the concept of magic and science awesome. I also like the cross species romance it speaks to bigger things. I am left with the need to know:
1. Is the crazy spider women really dead? I doubt it, but I need to find out.
2. What the fuck are Marco's parents gonna do?
3. I hope Izabel is with us longer. I really like her.
This gal is off to The Comic Shop, must purchase more of the series. I am going to have to donate my National Geographic mags to the kids school to make room on the bookshelf. I big high five to Michael my BBC challenge boss. Thank you for getting me started. Do you have the rest of the series you want to get rid of, maybe you need to make room on your shelf. ( )
  jaddington | Feb 16, 2015 |
Saga is one of those books that seems to get better with every reading. The story is wonderful and immersive with a gripping plot and well written, interesting characters. The art is beautiful and atmospheric. There is seriously nothing to dislike about this book. ( )
  TPauSilver | Feb 15, 2015 |
I can tell already that this is going to be a series that I want to follow. This first volume introduces the main characters and sets the story in motion. Marcus and Alana were each soldiers from opposite warring sides of a interplanetary war that fall in love and now have a baby daughter called Hazel. They are being hunted by both sides with a death sentence on the parents, but the baby seems to be attracting special attention and is wanted alive.

One thing I really like is the interplay between Marcus and Alana. They have concerns and issues much like any new couple and this is highlighted a few times. While giving birth under difficult conditions, Alana frets about how she is appearing to her loved one. Also when Marcus inadvertently mentions an old girlfriend, Alana’s radar goes into overtime. Marcus being a male, doesn’t really help himself much with his answers but does give the readers a good laugh.

As good as the story is, the artwork by Fiona Staples deserves special mention as well. Whether it is scenes of horror or scenes of beauty all is fresh and beautifully detailed. The story is very exciting with elements of magic, ghosts, rocketships, a disgusting spider-like huntress, a robot headed prince and most menacing of all, The Will with his sidekick, Lying Cat. I was very glad to have Volume 2 ready to pick up the minute I finished Volume 1. ( )
  DeltaQueen50 | Feb 10, 2015 |
Description: Winner of the 2013 Hugo award for Best Graphic Story!

When two soldiers from opposite sides of a never-ending galactic war fall in love, they risk everything to bring a fragile new life into a dangerous old universe. From New York Times bestselling writer Brian K. Vaughan (Y: The Last Man, Ex Machina) and critically acclaimed artist Fiona Staples (Mystery Society, North 40), Saga is the sweeping tale of one young family fighting to find their place in the worlds. Fantasy and science fiction are wed like never before in this sexy, subversive drama for adults.

This volume collects the first six issues of the smash-hit series The Onion A.V. Club calls "the emotional epic Hollywood wishes it could make." Voted one of the top graphic novels of the year by the NYT, IGN, the Examiner, and SF Weekly. Voted Best Comic of the year by MTV Geek and Best New Series by Paradox Comics. Named one of Time Magazine's top 10 graphic novels for 2013.

Thoughts: I don't read a lot of graphic novels. I'm typically very picky about them and spend years deciding if I should invest in a series (I still haven't convinced myself to pick up Sandman or Ex Machina or Hellboy even though I think I'd love them). But, for some reason, I purchased this without much thought when it popped up in my Amazon recommendation list.

Actually, I think I know what drew me in so quickly. The first pages are of a birth, a beautiful example of what natural birth can be like (minus the fact that she's on her back, wish that trope would die), and then breastfeeding. It's honest. I mean it literally sounds like conversations I've heard at almost every birth I've been to. When do you get that in graphic novels?

From there, it continued to impress. The artwork is beautiful, even the weird and gory bits. The world is interesting and peopled with strange characters that somehow feel just right. It's funny and engaging.

And I instantly purchased the next volume and preordered the third. I may not get through a single thing other than graphic novels this year, but if they are this good, I might not mind so much.

Rating: 4

Liked: 4
Plot: 4
Characterization: 4
Writing: 4

https://www.librarything.com/topic/163445#4580394 ( )
  leahbird | Jan 20, 2015 |
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» Add other authors

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Vaughan, Brian K.Authorprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Staples, FionaIllustratormain authorall editionsconfirmed
FonografiksLettering + Designsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Stephenson, EricCoordinatorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
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After us locals die, we get to live on as "spiritual defenders of Cleave."
But clearly, that's a suck-ass evolutionary plan, since your two armies had no problem wiping our people off the map.
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"When two soldiers from opposite sides of a never-ending galactic war fall in love, they risk everything to bring a fragile new life into a dangerous old universe" -- p. [4] of cover.

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