onsdag 29 juli 2015

Great comics: Saga

Saga vol. 1, panels
Saga is not the best thing Brian K Vaughan has written. After Y: The Last Man and Ex Machina, expectations were sky high, and Vaughan did his best to subvert them, I believe, by going so far out of his wheelhouse he ends up in outer space.

It's a bold experiment, a hot mess. I'd even call it a glorious failure, except it doesn't actually fail on any level. Once we see it completed, it may very well surpass his masterpiece to date, Y.

I'm really just cranky because it takes so long for the books to come out.

So we've got our standard lovers-from-warring-clans Romeo & Juliet-ish scenario, except with cool spaceships, and an entire galaxy deadlocked in an unwinnable, pointless, manichaean conflict between two sides who both define the others as "animals" and cite their unforgivable transgressions as the only reasons for the war.

It's very sad and very understandable and true to life.

Especially as every single character gets portrayed as a human being, with reasonable, considered goals based on circumstances and personal history that's neither unlikely nor trite, who has ideals and hurt themselves when they fail to live up to them.

(Well, other than Marko. We have yet to find out why this trained-from-birth-by-his-fanatical-bloodthirsty-parents-and-then-the-army battlemage, who in his weaker moments reverts to chanting "kill all feathered fucks", suddenly gave himself up to the enemy as a "conscientious objector" and started preaching (and even trying to practice) pacifism. It does smell like double agent bullshit, but that's probably just what they want us to think.)

But really, there's so much great character writing going on here it's sad that these people can't get along better. At least stop killing so many of these sweet people.

My hope is that the comic will end with Hazel, the lovers' hybrid child, bringing peace to the galaxy, at least for a little bit. Though even that will probably require enormous sacrifice. This story is just not going to have a happy ending

In comic reviews it's not unusual for the critic to make an awkward segue to talk about the artwork, and that's what I'm going to have to do here. Staples' delicate lines don't really do much for me. It's commendable work, certainly. It brings the story to life and makes all its amazing space cars and monsters and sex and stuff real. Her grasp of anatomy and body language and expression is faultless; her compositions and POVs never get tired. All of this is skill we don't see enough of, even in the widest mainstream of this industry.

But sometimes she favors a more scratchy, sketchy style of linework, and I wish the whole book looked like that. It seems more personal. Give me the loose and rough and wild over the smooth and polished any day.

Final score: Ten cum-soaked first pages out of eleven.

Further panel

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