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Comics 101, #007: Saga: Volume One

Comics 101, #007: Saga: Volume One

Let’s get one thing out of the way: the cover of the first volume of Saga depicts a man and a woman, presumably lovers of different species, and while they are both depicted as standing strong and fierce with their hands on their weapons, the woman is staring directly at you while breastfeeding their baby. If that doesn’t scream “badass” to you, I dunno what to tell you.

Saga tells the story of Alana and Marko, two members of warring species that have been battling it out since before anyone can remember. There’s the largest planet in the galaxy called Landfall, whose people are technologically advanced, and there’s Landfall’s only satellite Wreath, where the people are magic-users. Alana (from Landfall) held the title of Private First Class and was stationed to guard Marko, a foot soldier from Wreath who surrendered himself over to the enemy as a “conscientious objector.” Soon after Alana’s new post as his guard, the two of them vanished and became targets of both sides of the war. Fleeing from the entire galaxy proves to be somewhat difficult, especially with a newborn baby girl named Hazel in tow and a pink teenage ghost with her bottom half missing and her intestines hanging out all over the place.

Sound weird? It is. But it’s brilliant.

Firstly, Alana and Marko make a pretty badass warrior couple – and I know I’ve already used the term “badass” in reference to them, but I just can’t help it. Stumbling along on an unfamiliar planet with a newborn and most of the galaxy after your head isn’t an easy thing to accomplish, and while they do run into trouble every now and then, their love for each other and for their new family overpowers any fear or trepidation that may get in the way of their survival. They depend on each other for help, but they also know how to handle problems alone if the occasion calls for it. At one point Alana has to carry both Hazel and Marko from point A to point B, and she does so with all the strength and grace a new mother has to offer.

The side characters are richly developed as well. The pink teenage ghost, Izabel, is spunky and witty as Hazel’s undead ‘babysitter.’ There’s a mercenary named The Will (no, not just ‘Will,’ but The Will) who tracks Alana and Marko across the galaxy, and there’s also a fellow Landfallian Prince Robot IV on their trail. These plus several other surprise characters all play huge roles within the world of Saga, and as the series continues their storylines begin to weave together.

Of course, I can’t talk about Saga without talking about the world building, which is probably one of the most mind-blowing things about this series, if not the most. Everything – everything – is so detailed and thought-out, from the specificities of the magic that the citizens of Wreath use (you can’t always just say a few magic words and make things happen) and the technology of the Landfallians to the fact that one of the planets has a donut moon. (I’m serious.) As a result of the ongoing war in this universe there’s very blatant racism between those born on Landfall versus Wreath (the citizens of which are referred to as ‘moonies’ by the Landfallian folk), and shady politics play into several of the characters’ motives. There’s even a case of child prostitution, and classism plays into the mix. It’s very much as realistic a depiction of ‘real life’ as any in a sci-fi/fantasy series, and that made it so much easier as a reader to slip into this world seamlessly and enjoy the ride.

It’s not every day that an original comic series comes along with not one but two main characters that aren’t white, one of whom is a woman who literally gave birth to their child within the opening few panels of the first issue. It’s clear from the get-go, though, that skin color doesn’t factor in at all in this world, that the real race issue comes down to those with magic and those with technology, the war between Landfall and Wreath, and as a result that’s where the reader’s emotional investment lies.

TIP SHEET:

  • Saga takes place in a galaxy where the users of magic (from Wreath) and the wielders of technology (from Landfall) have been at war since before anyone can remember.
  • Alana and Marko are each members of the warring species, but have fallen in love against all odds, resulting in the birth of Hazel.
  • Saga #15 will be released on October 30.

YOU MAY LIKE SAGA IF:

  • You’re a Star Wars or Game of Thrones kind of person: writer Brian K. Vaughan was influenced by the former during the creative process. (Read: sci-fi/fantasy fans will love this.)
  • You find real-world problems (racism, classism, etc.) mixed in with fantastical elements interesting.
  • You’re looking for a story with strong world building and a supporting cast that is just as interesting and well developed as the main characters.

Gabby Taub, the Fantasy Reviewer at Girls in Capes, is a senior at New York University studying creative writing. She enjoys reading, writing, watching TV, and spending time getting lost among the bookshelves at Strand Bookstore.

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Gabrielle Taub on Twitter
Gabrielle Taub
Fantasy Reviewer at Girls in Capes
Gabby, the Fantasy Reviewer at Girls in Capes, is a graduate of New York University. She enjoys reading (about Captain America), writing (about Captain America), and spending time getting lost among the bookshelves at Strand Bookstore – probably while thinking about Captain America.
Gabrielle Taub
Written by Gabrielle Taub

Gabby, the Fantasy Reviewer at Girls in Capes, is a graduate of New York University. She enjoys reading (about Captain America), writing (about Captain America), and spending time getting lost among the bookshelves at Strand Bookstore – probably while thinking about Captain America.