REVIEW: Saga #2

by

Or – “Really Sorry To Have Missed #1…”

There was a lot of talk last month about how GOOD this comic book is.  Sadly, I missed #1, but snagged the last copy of #2 with moments to spare…  Can it live up to the expectations set by the premiere?

SAGA #2
Writer: Brian K. Vaughan
Artist: Fiona Staples
Letterer/Designer: Fonographics
Coordinator: Eric Stephenson
Publisher: Image Comics
Cover Price: $2.99

Previously, in Saga:  Alana and Marko are, essentially, an intergalactic Romeo and Juliet.  Drafted into a war they had no real interest in, they found one another, and have taken it on the run (one from the army, the other from prison), even as Alana’s delicate state has made their flight more complicated.  The birth of their daughter Hazel has raised the stakes, sending their new family on the run from the technovores of Alana’s homeworld and the mystical powerhouses of Marko’s.  Is anywhere safe?  (Have they looked into Tatooine?  Because NOBODY ever thinks to check there…)

“PHONE: CALL MY AGENT…”

We open in space, as an intergalactic bounty hunter (known as a “Freelancer”) known as The Will (coooool) calls his agent about his new gig:  Hunting down Marko and Alana, who have deserted/escaped and headed for the galactic hills.  With the very first moments, writer BKV hooks me with his dialogue, a phenomenal convolution of “spacey talk” and perfectly normal folk, with a smidge of Hollywood hype thrown in for good measure.  It’s a wonderful chunk of character building that establishes our setting, recaps enough of the story to get you on your feet, but never feels rushed or over-exclamatory, as so many bits of exposition do.  The Will even sends a chill down my spine when he realizes that he’s not alone on the hunt for his quarry, remarking that if fellow Freelancer The Stalk is in play, “those kids are as good as dead.”  Smash-cut to Mark, Alana and Hazel fighting for their lives in a mysterious living jungle…  Fiona Staples’ art is smooth as silk here, with tons of character and expression in all her character faces, as well as some lovely alien touches.  I can even forgive her for the sad realization that Marko’s horn-assembly is exactly like I always imagined Torq’s, which will probably eventually lead to me being accused of ripping this book off by someone, somewhere…

OH.  MY.  GAWD

And then, it gets weird.  The Stalk is equal parts creepy, sexy and horrible, and her arrival on the scene makes an already tense story even more so.  Vaughan has taken an interesting tack by having baby Hazel narrating parts of the story, and Staples chooses a perfect hand-written (or seemingly hand-written, anyway) font to convey these bits.  The regular font is, unusually, in mixed case, which helps to differentiate this from most comic books, another lovely touch.  I love the confrontation between Alana and The Stalk (who is by far the creepiest visual in recent memory, so well done there) and the way that it and the book ends knocked the wind out of me.  The final splash (in more ways than one) page actually one-ups the horror of The Stalk, and leaves our family endangered once more.  I’ve read this book four times now, and each time I enjoyed it a little more, finding new touches of story or art, or just an appreciation of the under-valued matter of design.  The whole issue is pretty breathtaking, from the starkness of the cover to the subtle character work to Alana’s strange-yet-completely-understandable secret…

THE VERDICT: WHOA…

In short, this is a book that makes me wish I had run to the store on the Wednesday that #1 came out.  (We sold out on day of release for Saga #1.)  This issue isn’t your standard comics fare, expertly written, and exquisitely drawn, and you’re going to be sorry if you didn’t buy it.  Saga #2 nails execution, package and delivery, earning 5 out of 5 stars overall.  I don’t usually say this, but in this case, it’s okay to believe the hype…

Rating: ★★★★★