When you think of comics, what characters, or books, pop into your head? Batman and Superman are the most common answers.
Readers have been trained to think that great comics are about superheroes, or Rick Grimes fighting off zombie hordes, right?
What if there was another comic out there that the casual fan doens't exactly recognize, but the comic industry considers it as the gold standard?
What if there was a comic series that broke social barriers, as well as sales records, yet is mostly unknown to the general public?
Well, such a comic does exist.
The book is called Saga, and it is widely regarded as one of the best, if not the best, comic on your local bookshelves.
Saga is a cross between a space opera, a fantasy epic, and a true love story. It has a large ensemble of characters, that are all important to the plot, relationships that people can believe in, and the kind of creativity most explores the deepest levels of imagination.
Let's put it this in simpler terms: Saga is like if Romeo and Juliet got caught up in Game of Thrones, but it all existed in the Star Wars Universe.
Written by Brian K. Vaughan (Paper Girls, Y: The Last Man, Marvel's Runaways) and illustrated by Fiona Staples (North 40, Archie), the series tells the story of two lovers, Marco and Fiona, on the run from a planetary war. The two were soldiers on opposite sides of a brutal rivalry, and both are wanted dead for their treason. On top of it all, they have just had a baby, Hazel.
Hazel is considered an abomination by people of both cultures, and her parents are doing what they can to keep her safe. During their journey, the young family is hunted by armies, royalty, and bounty hunters, and they go from planet to planet in search of a solution to their problems.
This story would be unique with that premise alone, but Vaughan and Staples take it one step further. The entire series, numbering 37 issues and counting, is narrated by Hazel. The story may start with her birth, but the adult version of Hazel is telling the story of her life.
This tool provides an incredible introspective voice for the audience, and it gives readers the chance to examine the main characters at face value. By letting a reader experience each character in an equal capacity, they're able to connect to the entire story on a deeper level.
You may be think that this is just simply an opinion and, to be honest, you're not wrong.
Saying Saga is the best comic on shelves is like saying Serena Williams is the greatest tennis player alive. It's only an opinion, but there is more than enough evidence to back up the claim.
In terms of the book itself, Saga meets the five big requirements for being considered an excellent series.
in 2014, MakingComics.com released the Qualities of Great Comics, and Saga has excelled in each of the five categories.
Saga has kept up the same story since it's inception in 2013. Instead of bouncing around and contradicting itself, like many superhero stories, Saga has continued to tell the tales of one family's quest for survival and, ultimately, acceptance.
Beyond that, the story also has a clear direction. Instead of just writing the best thing for the next issue, Vaughan has a clear end in sight. He knows exactly where the story will end up, and that allows each issue to contribute to a higher purpose.
Command Of Pacing:
Vaughan's writing keeps readers engaged at a high level, but it's the art of Fiona Staples that allows Saga to control the pace of their story. With an incredible depth to character features, and the unique presentation of Hazel's inner monologue, Saga's art work completely commands the pace of the reader. It's brilliant, to say the least.
What this refers to is the consistency between a writer and an artist. Vaughan and Staples have been on the same page since day one, and the two continue to learn from each other and grow alongside the characters in the book. The mood and texture of the art can change at times, but it is designed that way to intentionally engage the readers in a different part of the story.
The passion of Saga is easily one of its greatest strengths. The relationship of Marco and Alana is so true to reality that it's almost hurtful. The two speak, fight, and make love in a way only real people can.
Vaughan also does a great job of utilizing characters for the perfect length of time, and he isn't afraid to take a beloved character away before they have outlived their purpose. The Walking Dead and Game of Thrones have both been praised for their utlization of death as a literary tool, and Saga does an equally beautiful job.
It's already been stated, and you can see for yourself - this book is utterly gorgeous. Fiona Staples uses bright colors to brilliantly accent the imaginitive landscapes. The characters, and worlds, we run into throughout this series are unlike anything else we've ever seen. It's nothing short of breathtaking.
Saga hits all five marks, then goes a little further. The book has been recognized for its diversity, and inclusion of social issues.
The entire story is based around accepting love, in the face of hate, and how two people should be allowed to bring life into the world, no matter how different they are. These points are echoed throughout almost every relationship in the series.
Saga also features one of the only prominent transgender characters in all of comics. A subject many writers are hesitant to touch, Brian K. Vaughan welcomed with open arms.
If words aren't enough, and you still aren't convinced, maybe numbers will do the trick.
When the first issue of Saga was released in 2013, the initial run was sold out before it even hit the shelves. Since that date, Saga has sold more graphic novels than any other property - that includes Marvel & DC characters.
The Walking Dead is regarded as one of the highest-selling comics of the century - Saga has sold more collected issues in three years than The Walking Dead has in 13.
Even without a hit TV show to boost its sales, Saga still sells more copies. That's not to take away from The Walking Dead, not at all, but it just demonstrates how widely loved Saga is.0comments
You've never read, or watched, anything like Saga - that's a guarantee. Whether you've been a comic fan all of your life, or you've never picked up a comic before, there is something within these pages for you.
You won't be disappointed.