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Saga #5 Review
By Zak Edwards
July 20, 2012 - 21:29

Image Comics
Writer(s): Brian K. Vaughan
Penciller(s): Fiona Staples
Letterer(s): Fonografiks
Cover Artist(s): Fiona Staples
$2.99 US

Even with a notable absence in the form of little Hazel, Saga carries a strong voice and even stronger characters through its pages that makes this issue simply a pleasure to consume.  Every time I finish an issue of Saga I want the next, I want more of Marko and Alana, The Will and Lying Cat, and the worlds they inhabit.

One thing I have always really loved about Vaughan’s work is his subjugation of bravado, the ways in which he makes the strange idealized heroics that protagonists usually get away with seem quite unlikely and far too simple.  Yorrick constantly got the crap kicked out of him for this for the first bits of Y: The Last Man and Vaughan’s Runaways has plenty of moments where characters (mostly Chase) have been called on the consequences of their actions.  For Saga, there is an uneasy tension between Marko, who injures an entire platoon in order to protect his family, and The Will, whose attempt to rescue a child prostitute is disrupted by mostly bureaucracy and technicality.  It’s interesting and takes heroics head on.  When the hero harms people, he thinks about his daughter and the world he’s perpetuating, when an antagonist attempts to act a little patriarchal (in a good way), he’s also barred by the world created.  No matter what these characters do, they are aware or made aware of what they are doing or have done.  Even when The Will is called out on his preference of death over sexual abuse, his staunch reply of “I shouldn’t have to explain it to you” doesn’t exactly speak to utter wisdom, more ignorance under the guise of narrative authority.  Vaughan rarely lets his characters just get away with something, Ex Machina was also about having your past actions come back, and its cool to see the impact of a great war on people’s relatively smaller actions.  But above all, the issue starts with a robot finding out his wife is pregnant while on the toilet, which is both funny and a little heartwarming despite the worrying misogyny.  Vaughan may have the villains outlined, but he’s quick to make them human nonetheless, even with TVs for heads.  Hell, the rank-and-file soldiers are given importance and life and weight given by the characters fighting them.  Not in a bogus honor way, but in a tangible concern for the system being perpetuated sort of way.  Vaughan may have forgone some plot these issues, but I don’t read him for that, I read him for what he’s got going on here: well thought out and complex stories with great characters.

Fiona Staples is only aiding Vaughan’s script in every imaginable way.  Her rough style, sparse backgrounds, and ability to infuse every scene with emotion and heart without any exaggeration makes her easily one of his best collaborators.  Not to mention the constant design she comes up with every issue, fusing fantasy and science fiction seamlessly and making every issue, already a joy, into something incredible.  Saga is probably my favourite book on the shelf and I would find it hard to see why anything else comes close.  Original, clever, and packed with trademark Vaughan wit while looking this good.

Grade: 10/10    Was there ever any doubt this wouldn’t be incredible?

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