Artwork by Fiona Staples
This marks the first review of a title not published by DC Comics on "The Endless Reel". Since I began this blog, I've focused exclusively on the 'New 52' relaunch. Starting in April, though, I'll be branching out a bit, with coverage of Marvel's Avengers vs. X-Men. But right now, I'd like to offer a look at one of Image Comics' newest titles, written by the masterful Brian K. Vaughan (Y: The Last Man, Ex Machina) with artwork by Fiona Staples (Jonah Hex).
Saga is fantastical as it is minimalistic. Within this first issue, all the information you want to know is given, without informations dumps or overly-descriptive introductions. In so many ways, Saga represents the best of what comic books can offer - as a medium - moving forward, right alongside titles like Locke & Key, The Cape and Powers. Melding fantasy and sci-fi elements with natural storytelling has given Saga a unique style that's simply engrossing.
In a nutshell, beings from the planet - called Landfall - are at war with beings from the planet's moon - called Wreath. After much fighting, both sides realize that destroying the other would cause them to spin out of orbit and be destroyed. It was agreed that the war would be outsourced to other planets until the entire galaxy became engulfed in the conflict, forced to choose a side and fight.
It's a pretty intense setting, but one that Vaughan introduces slowly, through context clues and a journal-like detached voice poking metafictional holes in the story. He understands that his new world is a bit complex, but also that being led through it is no fun. The issue begins with a birth and includes a police chase, a battle between magic and robots, robots as royalty, and a look at the religious and political views of both sides of the war. Again, this seems like a lot of information, but again, Vaughan brilliantly shows what he's trying to say.
It would be easy to rely on Fiona Staples' artwork, as it perfectly convey's this new world of science and magic. He lines are rough and her style could come off as messy to many readers, but her technique is indicative of a deep understanding of her form. It's hard to look bad if you're trying, normally, but Staples makes the unkempt look of the book feel natural and organic.
Already I'm excited at the prospects for Saga. With such a wide open (literal) universe to work with, Vaughan and Staples have large shoes to fill with this series' second issue. I'll be covering the rest of Saga as it continues, month to month.