Saga, Volume 1

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐.5
Author: Brian K. Vaughan, Fiona Staples
Genres: Graphic Novel, Sci-fi
Pub. Date: Oct. 2012

I’ve been reading Saga for the better part of 5 years now, so let’s talk about it. I recently bought the special edition box set of Volumes 1-9 and decided to re-read the series before jumping into Volume 10, which was just released after a 3 year hiatus.

I’m so glad I made the decision to re-read these because I remembered very little of them and yet somehow I think I liked them even more! Saga is a graphic novel sci-fi series that is the brain-child of Brian K. Vaughan and the stunning visuals of Fiona Staples. It is far reaching in scope and the content is explicit, including violence, sex, and nudity. It is undeniably weird and unlike everything else I normally read. Despite all this, something about it speaks to a large audience of people because it has a huge fan base.

I know there are a lot of readers who are here for the imagination of it. It’s extremely creative and the artwork is amazing. For those who like graphic novels or sci-fi, it’s easy to understand the appeal. However, the reason I believe it’s so popular is because the storyline is so human in nature. This world is filled with all kinds of foreign planets and beings, with convoluted politics stretching to the far reaches of the galaxy. But Vaughan decides to center the narrative around a new mother and father (Alana and Marko) and their infant daughter Hazel.

Alana and Marko are very reminiscent of Romeo and Juliet. They are from enemy planets who have been embroiled in war longer than either of them can remember. Their love is forbidden and their daughter considered an abomination by most in the galaxy. There’s a whole host of secondary characters, but at its core, this is a familial love story. They are just 2 individuals trying to find some semblance of peace in which to raise their daughter away from the hate. This is what I think makes it brilliant. I’m not a big sci-fi fan, but I love a good family drama, which is why the series popularity is so wide-reaching.

In addition to their well realized central characters, Vaughan and Staples have a VERY large cast of secondary characters. Sometimes it’s hard to keep track of everyone and some characters come and go, but it contributes to the very rich world-building and highlights diversity in a non-traditional way. Each volume is just ~150 pages, but the creators tackle a lot of societal issues within its pages. We’re exposed to war, violence, death, revolutionaries, religious fanatics, drugs, sex trafficking, abortion, racism, sexism, and transphobia, as well as more positive themes, such as family, friendship, and love. Like I said, it’s far reaching in scope.

The plot is at times shocking and the series should have pretty much every trigger warning you can think of. If you’re in a healthy enough place, I think it’s an excellent read. I view volumes 1-9 as a kind of first era of the series. Volume 9 is heartbreaking and after the 3 year hiatus, Volume 10 felt very different in scope as the plot takes a major departure from the early volumes. To acknowledge this, I wrote a separate review for Volume 10 as the series starts what I feel is its second era. I may or may not continue with the series, but view the first 9 volumes as an incredible read. Collectively, I would give this series 4.5 stars.

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