Monday, April 8, 2013

You Can Run, But There's Nowhere in the Universe to Hide


by Brian K. Vaughan

Illustrated by Fiona Staples

Published by Image

4 Out of 5 Stars

How to describe Saga? It's like someone took Firefly, coated it liberally in WTF, and sprinkled a little Quentin Tarantino on top. Yeah, it's some wonderfully messed up stuff.

The planet Landfall is at war with one of its moons, known as Wreath. The indigenous people of Landfall seem reliant on technology and sport some nifty little insect-like wings, while the people of Wreath have horns (they may be my favorites, as each of the characters in the later issues have horns varying from rhino, to antelope, to ox) and are adept at magic. The war between these cultures has become an accepted part of life, the hatred of the enemy deeply ingrained in both species.

Now enter Marko and Alana, from Wreath and Landfall, respectively, who are ex-soldiers in this war. Defying their cultures, they have fallen in love and the birth of their newborn child, Hazel, has marked them for termination by basically everyone in the universe. Both have known violence and are adept at using it to protect each other and Hazel. On the run from the numerous assassins tracking them, they banter away like a married couple and slowly reveal the history that brought them to this juncture.

And now for a convenient list of the absurdities that await the Saga reader, so you can gauge whether or not the "WTF" element is acceptable to you:

--a planet known as Sextillion that specializes in, you guessed it, sex
--prostitutes that consist of giant heads teetering on top of Rockette style legs
--a forest that actually grows rocketships
--a race of robots that have television screens for heads
--graphic sex scene featuring the aforementioned robots
--a topless assassin with the torso of a human (sans arms) and spider legs (all the better for gripping multiple weapons with) concealed beneath a ballgown style skirt
--the ghost of a teenage girl who must have suffered a gruesome death as she's nothing but hanging intestines from the waist down; naturally, she tags along as Hazel's "babysitter"
--and LYING CAT; my new favorite comic book character is a giant feline sidekick to The Will, one of the assassins contacted about offing Marko and Alana.  Lying Cat can detect whether or not others are engaging in a bit of creative truth telling and immediately reveals the falsehood to anyone within earshot

While the base storyline is one we've read before, the execution is unlike anything I've ever read. Vaughan gleefully injects new and intriguing absurdities into the premise and it's really difficult to get a fix on where this sucker is going--but that's part of the great thing. The ride is so much fun that I really don't care. The artwork by Fiona Staples has a raw and edgy quality that suits the storyline perfectly.

I've been getting the monthly issues, which have the added benefit of a letters section in which Vaughan responds to reader letters. The results are often hilarious and I find myself looking forward to this section with the same anticipation I look forward to the storyline.

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