Writer: Brian K. Vaughan
Artist: Fiona Staples
Release Date: June 19, 2013
What most people don’t say about Brian K. Vaughan, one of the most lauded writers in comics, is that he’s a romantic. Sure, he has a Joss Whedon-esque tendency to kill off characters you’ve grown to love at exactly the worst/best possible time, ripping your heart right out of your chest, but his real gift is making you care about them in the first place. The second 6-issue bundle of Saga collected here is no less a tour de force than the first story arc and, unlike the way many TV shows release previous seasons on DVD after the start of a new one with nary enough time to catch up, Image allows everyone to take a breather and build an audience after each volume.
Saga is sci-fi in that it features alternative worlds, star-crossed lovers with horns and wings, a royal robot who suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder, and, of course, spaceships, but this comic is just as accessible to those who don’t give a flip about George Lucas as those who adore him. Vaughan’s capacity for capturing subtle, complex emotion is more than matched by Fiona Staples’ fantastic artwork, which rarely falters; a few computer-aided blurs are mildly distracting, but most panels feel both realistic and organic without overly-relying on photo reference. Together, these two creators send you spinning, balancing furious action and a host of stakeholders with well-relished moments of domesticity.
It’s no coincidence that the story so far takes place in the first few precious weeks of a newborn’s life, its parents’ first progeny, when the most ordinary things seem wondrous and new. Becoming a parent essentially flips you inside out — your squishiest and most vulnerable parts left exposed — but it can also fill you with a novel euphoria where time seems to freeze. Vaughan gets that, and he shows it with expertise without letting it distract anyone who hasn’t yet procreated. It’s a bit like the book within a book, A Night Time Smoke, that serves as an important fulcrum for the plot: a seemingly tossed-off, cheesy romance novel, it’s read by those with clear eyes as a powerful pacifist parable. Saga itself functions the same way, as both a rip-roaring action tale that finishes each issue with a cliffhanger and a story about the universe each family creates for itself.