Saga: A New Age of Comics

If you’re like most people, when you think of comic books, you think of super heroes. Heroes like Superman, Batman, and the X-men brought comics into the limelight of popular culture, but a new type of comic is changing the way stories are told in comic books, as well as bringing in an older readership. I like to call these “dramics,” or dramatic comics. Though this type of storytelling started in the 80’s with works such as Alan Moore’s V for Vendetta or From Hell, it is reaching a fever pitch of popularity thanks to publishing companies like Image Comics.

One of Image’s most popular new dramatic series’ is Saga, a space opera/fantasy comic with elements from Star Wars, Lord of the Rings, and Romeo and Juliet thrown in for good measure. The story surrounds lovers Alana and Marko, whose people are on opposite sides of a brutal war spanning the galaxy. Alana is from Landfall, a planet that is home to a technologically advanced race of winged humanoids. Marko is from Landfall’s moon, Wreath, whose horn-headed populace may not be as tech savvy as those from Landfall, but make up for it in the practice of powerful magic. Alana and Marko meet on the Landfall Coalition’s prison planet Cleave, where Marko is a prisoner of war, and Alana one of the prison guards. They soon realize that, despite the rhetoric of their respective governments, their similarities vastly outweigh their differences. When Marko is scheduled to be transferred to Blacksite, a prison no one ever comes back from, Alana helps Marko escape, ensuring her own status as a criminal with the Landfall Coalition.  
After months running from Landfall authorities on Cleave, Alana gives birth to Marko’s daughter, whom they name Hazel. Their purpose now becomes clear: get off of the planet Cleave and find somewhere far away from the war where they can settle down and raise their daughter in peace. This is easier said, however, than done. With both the Landfall and Wreath governments seeing Hazel as an abomination, Alana and Marko are relentlessly hunted across the galaxy.

With science fiction and fantasy elements, as well as a dramatic story of two star-crossed lovers and the bounty hunters paid to kill them, Saga breaks the mold in comic book storytelling. Brian K. Vaughan’s brilliant writing has been evident since Y: The Last Man, but he outdoes himself this time with a story that is both epic and personal at the same time (as well as occasionally humorous). Though the artwork is all digitally-made, Fiona Staples somehow makes each frame look like a painting, the browns and grays emphasizing Alana and Marko’s desperate situation. 

The graphic novel Saga: Volume 1 collects the first six issues of this fantastic comic in paperback book form, and is recommended for adults who love fantasy and/or science fiction.

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