Saga (Vol 1-4) by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples

Saga (Saga Volumes 1-4) by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples
Published in 2012-2015 by Image Comics.

Links: Goodreads.

Source: purchased (paperback).

Genre: sci-fi graphic novel.

My rating:

Saga is an epic space opera/fantasy comic book series created by writer Brian K. Vaughan and artist Fiona Staples. The series is heavily influenced by Star Wars, and based on ideas Vaughan conceived both as a child and as a parent. It depicts two lovers from long-warring extraterrestrial races, Alana and Marko, fleeing authorities from both sides of a galactic war as they struggle to care for their newborn daughter, Hazel, who occasionally narrates the series.

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saga22015 was the year of trying out new things (sort of), which included graphic novels. I hit jackpot with my first choice (Nimona was fantastic) and continued to have good luck with Saga. This is an ongoing series with five currently published “volumes” (each includes six chapters which are also published separately, as far as I can tell) while the sixth is scheduled to appear this year. I have read four of them and will be buying the sequel soon. 

I gave five stars/hearts to the first three parts and four to the fourth; I thought the story is getting a bit too fragmented – and batshit crazy, if you’ll forgive me for saying so. Space is a vast playground and it’s easy to get lost if you don’t take care – and it just looks like the authors are opening some doors that will require a lot of energy to close. I’m not sure how many parts there will be or if the authors even know that (I did no research on the matter, sorry), but they seem to be pushing ahead at full steam with no end in sight.

saga3This is the story of a family where the mother and father are from opposite sides of a decades-long war. Their baby, Hazel, who is the narrator of the story, is probably the first child of mixed race (ever? in a while? who knows?) and very dangerous because of it. So people are out to get them, assassins are hired, and there are some ex-lovers thrown into the mix so it gets more fun. And while I do understand why the authors wish to give the side characters their separate stories, their lives sometimes take up valuable page time (I find that in comics, economy is key. Everything just takes such a long time to say! Pictures take up way more page space than words.).

But I love the main story. I mean, both Marko and Alana make some spectacularly bad decisions in part 4, but their lives are hardly easy. Hazel is an interesting narrator, she reports on everything, including her parents’ sex lives, which is kind of weird. I do wonder how far into her life the story will go – she’s currently still a toddler! :) And space toddlers aren’t that different from human, Earth-born toddlers, let me tell you that.

saga4The story is hilarious. It’s also really gruesome sometimes (seriously, there is a lot of gore, you’ve been warned) and very, very explicit when it comes to sex. I think this might be a part of its attraction? Most of the characters have really unusual sexual lives, I liked this exploration into non-heterosexual territories, especially when it came to couples who belong to completely different species (though why anyone would want to get involved with a sexy spider is beyond me). I do think a lot of these scenes are there to shock and amuse and hardly contribute to the main story, but they have this pulpy quality to them that doesn’t take itself too seriously.

I like the artwork, it’s crazy imaginative and very expressive. I haven’t read enough graphic novels to really form a personal taste in comic book illustrators, but I can say that it’s very different from Nimona, for example, which has a much cleaner style. Both are great and I think they serve their genres well. 

I’ll definitely be continuing with the series though I should really check out how many parts it’s supposed to have, just so I have some timeframe in mind. 

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Have you read Saga? Did you enjoy it?

Do you have other graphic novel recommendations that I might enjoy?

I’d love to hear from you! :)

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  • I love Saga! Reminds me I still have to catch up with vol. 5 which has been sitting on my nightstand waiting to be read since forever, and I even have the next volume preordered already, lol.

    • I saw that Vol 6 is coming out soon – but I’ve been trying to be good and not buy/preorder books if I’m not caught up with the series yet (as in, only 1 part at the time). Eh. Danya just said (below) that Vol 5 has a happier story, I have to say this is great news for me because this one was kind of depressing (but still awesome).

  • LOL you are so right about the batshit craziness, but I think that’s kind of what Saga is known for at this point. I’m so glad you’ve been having a positive experience with graphic novels so far! They’re a relatively new love for me too, but I can tell they’ve got staying power. :)

    I absolutely adore Hazel’s narration – she’s so dry and matter of fact about terrible things that have happened, and ones that are to come later on in her life too. Somehow I’ve never made the connection that it’s incredibly weird how much she knows about her parents’ sex lives, but well…not much privacy on space ships, I suppose!

    Vol. 4 was so painful to read, in large part because of how realistic it was (it can be difficult to maintain any serious relationship, let alone one where both parties are suffering from PTSD). Fiona Staples artwork is amazing and I absolutely love the colour work in these comics, too. Such a win all around. You’ll be happy to hear that Vol. 5 is less depressing, although it’s definitely still a bit all over the place!

    • You know I read these on your recommendation, right? So thank you for that! :)

      Yeah, I know, I think they’re operating under the rule of “everything goes” in the craziness department, that’s a part of their appeal. And I can definitely tell you I’ll be exploring graphic novels further even after I catch up with Saga. I haven’t decided what to pick up next but I’m thinking Lumberjanes, possibly, because I LOVE Stevenson’s artwork.

      Ha, Hazel is fantastic. I wonder how old she is as she narrates the story? A teenager, perhaps? I love her babysitter, too. But yes, let me tell you, after you have kids, there’s always something in your mind telling you that privacy really IS key – even on space ships, dammit. Kids can get traumatised because of things like that! :D (Probably not really but you know what I mean.)

      And I agree, Vol 4 was horribly real in terms of Marko and Alana’s relationship. I wanted them to be happy and idealistic and in love! *sigh*

      I talked about the artwork with my brother – he also read both Nimona and Saga, because I pushed them onto him, and he’s an illustrator (but also an architect, it’s a long story). And we agreed that we prefer Stevenson’s cleaner style to this one, it’s really great but if I had to choose a favourite, I’d pick Nimona, because this is maybe TOO fantastic for me if that makes sense? I know all artists now work with computers to do their colouring and effects but they seemed much more natural in Stevenson’s work. It’s a matter of personal preference, of course. :)

      Thanks for stopping by! :)

  • Greg Hill

    I keep hearing how great Saga is and I really should get them. I do plan to but I have a few to get through first- I’m in the process of working my way through Morning Glories at the moment (there’s like 9 volumes or something) so it will take me a while. Maybe by then the next Saga will be out and I can binge ’em. :) I like that they’re funny and I’ve heard good thing about the art…

    • It’s pretty damn cool. I don’t know, maybe you could wait for the series to be finished before you binge on it but I have NO IDEA when that will be or how many parts we’re still waiting for.

      Is Morning Glories something you’d recommend to a graphic novel newbie? :)

      • Greg Hill

        I think so. Morning Glories is about six kids who join a prep school and find out there’s supernatural stuff going on there, and when they call home their parents don’t remember them! It’s kinda like Saga in that it’s ongoing although it’s probably not as out there. It’s kinda crazy too some of the stuff that happens. I’ve read the first two and I’m liking it.

        I really need to try Saga!

        • :) That sounds interesting! I saw you reviewed it, too, so I’ll check that out.

  • I’ve never read Saga. I don’t read a ton of graphic novels, but every once in awhile I do, and I usually really enjoy it. This is a really interesting story.

    • Yep, the story is really great, though as I said, it seems to be getting a bit out of hand lately. :D I enjoyed the forbidden romance thing a lot but it’s far from being a rosy story! I hope you give it a try, it’s such an interesting read.

  • I have yet to pick these up but know that they are high priority on my wishlist! I want to get into more graphic novels and well this series and Nimona are ones to get to asap! I’m really happy that you loved these, even though the last one was so freaking crazy LOL!

    • I never read a lot of graphic novels before starting with Nimona last year and I’m really glad I picked it as my entry book into this world. If you’re undecided on which one to pick first, I’d go with Nimona, it’s also a standalone, which is always a plus in my book.
      Yeah, one of the commenters said Vol 5 was slightly better (and less depressing) so I’m really looking forward to that! :)

  • Maraia

    I love Saga! I wasn’t sure I was going to, because before last year I thought I didn’t like comics/graphic novels. Nimona and Saga changed my mind, though. I’m impatiently waiting for the next volume to come out. I also have no idea how many there will be.

    I just read Paper Girls: Volume 1. If you liked Saga, I definitely think you’ll like this as well. It’s also by Brian K. Vaughan. It’s currently Read Now on Netgalley! Unfortunately, that means more waiting. I also highly recommend Maus I and II. Have you read them?

    I read that you can use HTML tags in Disqus comments for italics, etc. Is that true? I’m afraid to try it and have it not work. xD

    • I’ll be bookmarking the Paper Girls – I don’t want to start any more unfinished series right now, the number of those I’m already in the middle of is staggering. And I think I’d rather have the print version, I’ve never read a comic book on screen! :) I’ll definitely go for it once I finish with Saga.

      Hm, I think my brother has Maus! I’ll have to ask him, he’s always been more of a comic fan than me (he’s currently in the process of acquiring all the Peanuts collections).

      And I give you permission to experiment with the html tags in my Disqus – pick an old romance review that nobody will read anymore and you can try as many times as you’d like. I swear I won’t laugh at your comments (plus I’m fairly sure you can edit and/or delete them later if you wish). And then share your results with me! :D I’d love to use formatting in comments but I don’t know how.

      • Maraia

        Good call. The quality was actually really crappy, actually, so the pictures we blurry. Not exactly what I look for in a comic book. :P

        I had to read Maus freshman year of college, which was quite a while ago, so all I remember is that I liked it. I hope you do as well.

        Haha, alright, I’m off to experiment. :D (I was already mocked publicly for testing out HTML on Oh, the Books! so I really have nothing to lose. xD)

        • Maraia

          Success!

          for italics
          for underline
          for strikethrough
          for bold

          for quotes

          I’m going to have way too much fun with this. XD

          • Ooh, great! :D Thanks for sharing this. I’m going to try it by commenting back to your experiments, alright? :D

  • I haven’t read any of Saga yet! :( I actually think this one of only a couple reviews I’ve bothered to read for it, because I honestly don’t know anything about ir expect that EVERYONE loves the series.

    I buy a good amount of comics each months, and one or two graph novels, and I always see Saga there, but I alway pass it up for something else… Maybe next month I grab volume 1 and see what all the talk is about.

    • Hi, DJ! :)

      I’m not even sure why Saga has such universal appeal – I have seen great reviews from VERY different readers/bloggers, so I guess it has something for everyone? Maybe it’s that it doesn’t take itself too seriously, it’s a lot of fun!

  • This is definitely a graphic novel series I’ve been eyeing for a while – thanks for the detailed review on it. I read a lot of manga but for some reason could never get into Western comics, perhaps this will change my mind. Saga sounds a lot more explicit and confronting than I initially thought, so thank you for the warning haha.

    • I’ve only just started reading graphic novels last year, so I’m really a newbie here. I haven’t seen a lot of manga reviews on the blogs I follow and I do find the genre intriguing, but I’d have NO idea where to start or what is good or what the specifics of the genre are at all. I know it’s a lazy excuse but OH BOY my tbr is large enough as it is! :D Do you have any specific recs?

      And yeah, I think that probably most people would handle Saga’s explicitness well if they’re at all used to modern pop culture (I mean, it’s no bloodier than Game of Thrones, that’s for sure) but really squeamish people should probably avoid it. :)