The problem with trying to recommend Saga to people is that it is always one or two steps away from sounding terrible.
"Okay," you say to a potential reader, "it's a Romeo and Juliet story, but it's not about their tragic love affair, it's about everything that comes after that point, like running away from bounty hunters who want to kidnap and/or kill them and their child. Oh, and instead of feuding families, it's warring planets (well, planet and its moon) because they're kind of space aliens, and it's not really science fiction, it's more like science fantasy, because they can do magic and stuff."
"Uh huhhhhh," the potential reader says, eyes glazing over.
"But it's really good!" you say.
"Right," the potential reader says. "Sure."
At least most of the internet agrees with me. That definitely makes the sell a little bit easier.
Half of the reason why I was willing to give Saga a chance was because I knew the writer's previous work, Ex Machina and Y: the Last Man. Ex Machina in particular stuck with me, tbh, probably because I have lots of technopathy feelings. It's the story of a superhero who has hung up his cape, such as it ever was, and runs for office as mayor of New York City and wins. It deals with the after effects of his time as a super hero (while he's still super powered, of course) and the political battles he needs to fight as mayor. It's never a particularly strong critique of superhero tropes or a particularly strong commentary on the nature of politics, but what it does do is just as important. It explores the interactions and intersections between the two, superheroism and politics, with unflinching honesty and genuine care.
And that's why you should read Saga.
Saga is about taking something that sounds kind of ridiculous on paper and making honest and funny. It doesn't shy away from those giddy science fantasy feelings of awe and adoration and wonder, but also it refuses to glorify war or use love as a magical spackle to fix all relationship problems or make bounty hunters cool rather than kind of pathetic and sad. At the heart of the series is a story about marriage and childrearing and family and how genuinely difficult all of those things are, exaggerated as they may be by the science fantasy setting. It takes that world and shades it full of feelings. Not the reflected feelings for hero's journey stories or fantasy stories long past, but feelings for these particular characters, these particular foibles and successes.
Oh, and not everyone is white.
Plus, the art is gorgeous.
Okay, caveat time. Some of the reason why it sounds so terrible is because early on, some elements feel like they were birthed from the brain of a teenage boy who has been unleashed on an HBO TV show. Whoa, sex and violence and cursing? I can do it however much I want wherever I want? Let's introduce a character while he's fucking another character! Let's have alien giants with huge balls! Let's have a female alien bounty hunter wander around topless! But those elements never overwhelm the story and they settle and recede into the background as the comic moves on.
Also, it takes forever for new issues and new volumes to come out, but that's probably to be expected considering how good it is.
Volume 4 comes out this month! I am so excited to get to read it.
This entry was originally posted at http://thedeadparrot.dreamwidth.org/566974.html. You can comment there using OpenID or you can comment here if you prefer. :) comments there