The first 54 issues of Saga, collectively titled Saga: Compendium One, marks the halfway point for the highly acclaimed series that has collected a staggering 12 Eisner Awards so far. With the creators, Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples, taking an extended break, I decided to do a complete re-read of the series.
It’s really hard to explain how amazing Saga is to the initiated, because there are so many things that are completely bonkers. It has a spaceship tree, a teenage ghost babysitter, torso-less sex workers, robots with giant TV displays as heads, and the best of the lot, a lie-detector cat. But amidst all this craziness, Saga is quite simply a family drama with a great story and endearing characters set in an imaginative world, that somehow resembles our own in many ways.
The central arc is actually quite straightforward. A pair of star-crossed lovers from two eternally warring species (one has horns, while the other has wings) decide to have a baby, whose very existence threatens to unravel the lies which have been fueling the inter-galactic war. This event sets into motion several plots to kill Alana, Marko and their newborn baby, Hazel, causing the family to flee across the galaxy seeking refuge. Writer Brian K. Vaughan uses this premise to explore family and togetherness.
Don’t get me wrong. Saga is NOT for kids, a lesson which Bangalore ComicCon learned the hard way, but it is the best family drama in comics. It may not be about finding lost loves or embarking on grand adventures, but it’s about a family being there for each other, the sacrifices they make, and how they find help in the most absurd places. But more than anything else, it’s the combination of Brian K. Vaughan’s endearing characters and Fiona Staples’ stunning artwork that truly make Saga a book for the ages.
The leading pair of Alana and Marko are brilliant creations. We get to know and love their daughter Hazel (the story’s narrator), as she grows up, and learns to walk and talk. There is Isabelle, Hazel’s babysitter who has all the sass that comes from being a dead teenager. We also have Lying Cat, my most favorite character in the series, who can rival Baby Groot and Baby Yoda for being the cutest fictional character ever. The lie-detector cat has some truly memorable scenes in the series, which makes me want to compile Lying Cat’s best moments. Fiona Staples’ art is Saga’s other major selling point. It’s absolutely gorgeous and brings a sense of epic proportions to Vaughan’s story.
With its spaceships and inter-galactic wars, Saga might seem like Star Wars. It’s like that, but it’s also so much more. It is one weird, insane, compelling, amazing book that simply cannot be missed.