Saga #1

Written by Brian K. Vaughan

Art & Cover by Fiona Staples

Saga is the story of two soldiers from opposite sides of a war that fall in love and bring a child into a very dangerous universe.  Alana is from Landfall, the largest planet in the galaxy, and Marko is from Wreath, Landfall's only moon.  Landfall and Wreath have been at war as long as anyone can remember, and the war has spread across the entire galaxy.  Marko claimed to be a conscientious objector to the war, and surrendered to Landfall forces on the planet Cleave.  Alana was stationed there, and assigned to guard Marko.  Twelve hours later, they disappeared together.

The story opens with the couple still on Cleave, as Alana is giving birth to their child.  The couple had thought they had found a safe place to hide, but only minutes after their daughter is born, a military group of Alana's people are there.  The owner of their hideout sold them out.  Just as Alana is about to be arrested, a small group of magical beings from Marko's world materialize.  A battle of military weapons versus magical powers ensues.  At the end, only Alana, Marko, and the baby are alive.  The monkey like being who sold them out is dying, and he tells them to hide from the authorities in the sewers.  He gives them a map before he dies, saying it won't quite make up for his betrayal, but it's all he can do for them now.

The scene shifts to Landfall, and we meet Prince Robot IV, who has a human body and something resembling a computer monitor for a head.  He is enjoying some private time with a lady friend, when he is told he has a guest.  This is Gale, a special agent from Secret Intelligence, who has wings like Alana.  Gale tells IV all about the couple and their history, including the slaughter of the unit sent to arrest Alana.  IV's father, the King of the Robot Kingdom, has sent Gale to "deal with the situation".

Alana and Marko are making their way through the sewers.  Alana declares she will be ready for the next ambush, and produces a weapon.  Marko is horrified, and even though Alana tells him it is non-lethal, he is not placated.  As they bicker, Alana examines the map and is excited to see there is a place called the Rocketship Forest.  Though Marko is doubtful - even if there are rocketships there, he feels there's nowhere safe in the galaxy to go to - he agrees to head there.  Alana wants to show their girl the universe, and Marko cannot say no to her.

On Wreath, we meet a bounty hunter, The Will, and his companion, a lying cat, who can tell when someone is being dishonest.  The Will is hired by a woman named Vez to find and kill Marko and Alana, and bring the baby, alive and unharmed, to her.

Back on Cleave, Alana and Marko find that the war between their people is raging where they think the Rocketship Forest should be.  Alana despairs momentarily but Marko boosts her spirits by suggesting there may be an alternate way to get to a rocketship.  As the story reaches a conclusion, the baby does some narration from an unknown time in the future.  She reveals her name is Hazel, and thanks to her parents she gets to grow old, though not everyone does.

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Sometimes I had trouble explaining why I like this title. But I finally figured how to explain it:

It's not that the story is really all that unique or compelling, although it's pretty well done. It's because I like Alana and Marko.

The first issue was double-sized, which was a great idea.  We get to meet various members of the cast, and find out a bit about each one, enough to whet your appetite and bring you back next issue.  

I find Alana intriguing.  Marko is a pacifist, but she is a soldier.  She may have been unhappy being assigned to a distant outpost, but what happened to convince her to become a deserter?  Their love is like Romeo and Juliet on a universal scale.  Her people want her dead as much for marrying and having a child with one of the enemy as the desertion.  His people are likewise outraged by the "coupling" and "fraternizing" as much as the betrayal.  The spotlight was on Alana from the outset, and perhaps we'll learn more about Marko later.

Prince Robot IV has a unique look which you won't soon forget.  He considers Alana's people to be allies, but his lady friend likens them to mercenaries.  That seems like a shaky alliance.  I don't know how much more we will see of Gale, but his disdain for IV, tradition, respect, and the war itself was unexpected.

We don't learn much about The Will so far except that he is obviously very dangerous, and described as sharing Marko's "appalling sense of moral relativism".  I laughed when he wondered "What kind of ---holes bring a kid into worlds like these?"

There's a Star Wars vibe going on here, only much bleaker.  Staples art is perfect for the feel of the story.  Vaughan is juggling a lot of things, but he's shown in Runaways, Y The Last Man, Ex Machina, and other series he is more than capable of delivering epics.

On Comixology, you can buy Saga Volume 1 for $9.99.

I think that's true of Vaughan's storytelling generally. The novelty of Y: The Last Man wore off after awhile, but the characters were always interesting. Even Yorick, the sap (I recall you not being sold on the title partly because of that, Cap).

Captain Comics said:

Sometimes I had trouble explaining why I like this title. But I finally figured how to explain it:

It's not that the story is really all that unique or compelling, although it's pretty well done. It's because I like Alana and Marko.

You recall correctly. I had a couple of things I didn't like, enough that I never drummed up much enthusiasm. I still read it to the end, though, because I'm a Sad Fanboy Completist (tm).

Mark Sullivan (Vertiginous Mod) said:

I think that's true of Vaughan's storytelling generally. The novelty of Y: The Last Man wore off after awhile, but the characters were always interesting. Even Yorick, the sap (I recall you not being sold on the title partly because of that, Cap).

Captain Comics said:

Sometimes I had trouble explaining why I like this title. But I finally figured how to explain it:

It's not that the story is really all that unique or compelling, although it's pretty well done. It's because I like Alana and Marko.

What I love about this title is that you can read it, it flies right by, but never once do you feel like you didn't get your money's worth. Each issue seems full. The artwork is beautiful. The storytelling seems effortless. Like we're just watching it happen naturally, and we're not being force-fed exposition with each new scene or in each panel. It's enjoyable to experience, and you really don't experience the "gross-out" scenes (the giant ball-sack, the orgy, etc.) don't feel like they're there to make you uncomfortable; it's more like you're just at a party where those things happen to be present, and so you just look the other way.

It's really well done. I know there are hipster/precious elements, which I'm sure appeal to a large part of the audience (and one former member of this forum who admits it readily), but to me, it's great in spite of those elements.

It's a really enjoyable read.

To me this is how you do a first issue. You set the table for upcoming storylines. Give us some background, but not overburden us with too much in the beginning. Introduce the principles. Also, move the main plot along. Just really well done.

They did in this issue which Image does from time to time which is really nice. An oversized issue at the regular price.

I check out so many of Image's titles through the $9.99 first volumes. Such a nice way to do things!

SAGA #2

Written by Brian K. Vaughan

Art and cover by Fiona Staples

The Will contacts his agent, and learns one of his competitors for the contract to kill Alana and Marko is The Stalk.  Although he had said he didn't care about competing against others, he now says he is instead going to Sextillion, a brothel planet, because he states if The Stalk is after them, they are already dead.

On Cleave, Alana and Marko have doubled back to find another route to the Rocketship Forest, and are in the Endless Woods.  They are attacked and bound by some vines, but Marko uses a magic spell to free them.  They fall asleep sitting up next to each other.  In three days, Marko has had seven hours of sleep, and Alana had none.

Prince Robot IV arrives on Cleave.  He is greeted by a soldier named McHenry, and learns that she knew Alana, though not well.  Alana kept to herself, mostly reading books; IV asks if they were religious or propaganda books, but is told they were romance novels.

Alana and Marko are awakened by a scream from Hazel.  Marko thinks she's just hungry, but Alana says the baby is scared of something.  Marko senses they are being watched, and states they mean no harm, and lays down his weapon to prove it.  A female looking creature with eight red eyes and no arms appears, and tells the couple she has a job to do, and her name is The Stalk.  Alana shouts "Freelancer!" and knows they are in trouble.  The Stalk stabs Marko with a second tongue, and he collapses.

Alana threatens to kill her, but The Stalk knows it's a stun gun,  She sheds her skirt, revealing a spider-like form, and holds several weapons in her appendages.  She tells Alana she is going to kill her and Marko, and bring their baby unharmed back to her employers.  She also says that Marko was quite a vicious sort back in the day, which is why she attacked him first.  Alana threatens to kill Hazel with the stun gun to keep her from The Stalk.  The bounty hunter thinks it's a bluff, but Alana cocks the gun.  Just then, they both hear eerie noises, and The Stalk says it's the Horrors.  Marko had mentioned them before but Alana had dismissed it as a fairy tale.  The Stalk says she has seen the Horrors and they are real, so she's going to try to escape while they eat the couple and their baby.  

Alana tries to wake a wounded Marko, when she hears "Hello" several times.  She turns and sees six apparitions, all in red, that look like children.

This issue gives us more backstory on the characters.  If The Stalk is telling the truth, Marko was a very different person in the past than the pacifist we see today.  It seems like Alana was a reluctant soldier, not the dangerous subversive Prince Robot IV thought she would be.  Speaking of IV, while he was talking to McHenry, an image of a gorilla or something similar appeared on his face (which resembles a computer screen), like a flashback.  This also happened in the previous issue, when he couldn't perform sexually, an image of a claw or talon flashed on his face.  He has said he had just completed a hellish two year tour of duty, so looks like he has PTSD.  Even though he's pursuing Alana and Marko, we don't know if he's good or bad yet.

The Stalk is one of the creepiest characters I've seen in a comic in a while.  There's some prior personal history with The Will which I'll assume we will learn in due time.  The Horrors look creepy too - children in horror usually are - although we really don't know anything about them yet.

I agree with the rest of you on the pacing of the story being done well, and how wonderful the artwork is.  Vaughan's story reveals a few more details this time, which just leaves you wanting more background on the characters.  It never feels like a padded out "made for the trade" story, there's some meat to chew on in this regular sized issue.  Staples excels at facial expressions and body language, as well as character design.  It's storytelling at its finest.

John Dunbar (the mod of maple) said:

I find Alana intriguing. Marko is a pacifist, but she is a soldier. She may have been unhappy being assigned to a distant outpost, but what happened to convince her to become a deserter?

When Agent Gale briefs Prince Robot IV he says that Alana was reprimanded for "abject cowardice" in battle, which resulted in her reassignment to Cleave.

SAGA #3

Written by Brian K. Vaughan

Art & Cover by Fiona Staples

Face to face with the ghosts from the end of last issue, Alana begs for her life.  One of the apparitions. who looks like a young teen girl, tells her Marko is still alive, and she and the baby are in no danger from them.  She is offended by being called a Horror - the correct term is "spiritual defender of Cleave" - and they don't kill, just project illusions.

The other ghost kids leave. as Marko wakes up.  He tells Alana he needs snow for a healing spell for his wounds, even though where they are at is very warm.  The ghost offers to help if they take her with them when they leave he planet, the catch is she has to be bonded to a living native of Cleave, in other words, baby Hazel.

Elsewhere, Prince Robot IV is interrogating a prisoner, one of Marko's people, that Alana had been guarding.  He learns Marko's name but not much else.  The prisoner goads IV into physically attacking him by taunting him about a battle where a number of IV's people were killed.  A soldier comes in and asks what is going on; IV replies he is "commencing the interview" and orders the soldier to leave.

Alana is stubbornly carrying Marko on her shoulders, searching for snow, as she doesn't want the ghost's help.  We learn her name is Izabel.  She offers to show Alana a shortcut, but Alana is unsure about trusting her.  They bond when Izabel shows her how to burp Hazel - turns out Izabel was the oldest of seven and knows a bit about babies.

Meanwhile, The Stalk is fighting off some giant warthogs and calls The Will.  She asks for his help with Alana and Marko.  He blows her off and she chalks it up to them sleeping together on a past job.  It didn't mean anything to her but he seems bitter.  She tells him off, as we see he is headed for Sextillion.

Alana learns more about Izabel, including that she died from stepping on a landmine, and doesn't know, or care, to which side it belonged.  Alana decides to allow her to soul-bond with Hazel.  Marko stirs, and Alana tells him they should soon be able to obtain some snow to save him.  He tells her there's no time, he just asks that she tell his bride he loved her.  When she says "I'm right here", he replies "Please tell Gwendolyn I loved her so much", to her shock.

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