Vaughan and Staples hit us with another installment of their epic sci-fi/fantsy slipstream this week. I was on the fence before, but go ahead and count me in now. Don't get me wrong, it's still patently bizarre and Vaughan knows this as well as anyone. In an interview on Wired's Storyboard podcast, he said part of the reason he loves working in comics is doing things that no one would put money behind in a medium like film or television.
“[In comics] I can tell an R-rated science fiction space opera that's got robots with TVs for heads copulating with each other. You know, there's no way that you would be able to afford to put that into a movie. It's too weird. And on television, it's too expensive to do there. So just practically, it's having no limitations in comics.” -Vaughan
First, I want to say that I am increasingly charmed by Staples' art style; the understated elegance of her background coloring is such an interesting contrast to the bold line work of the characters—not to mention their great design. Just wait until you meet this issue's main antagonist, a mercenary named The Stalk. Whatever the writing equivalent of biting my lip would be, I'm doing that right now because holy shit, you just have to see it for yourself. And like in the first issue, Staples' manipulation of the grid is just fantastic.
When I read Saga #1 I thought there was a lot of great set up going on, and the world Vaughan built had me intrigued, but it all felt a little too bizarre and hard to connect with. In hindsight I think this was simply unavoidable. Vaughan did his best to couch our introduction to the galaxy of Saga in the familiar star-crossed lovers narrative of Marko and Alana, but this setting is positively vast—and yes, bizarre—so any introduction probably would have felt a little baffling.
That said, in this issue Vaughan has given us a sense of the dominoes that are going to fall as we move forward. We don't have a road map of course, but this set-up helps us feel grounded in a narrative framework we can understand. Even knowing that the rug will be pulled out as soon as I get comfortable, it's nice to feel comfortable for now. Vaughan does all this while simultaneously giving us some seriously tense, exciting, or adorably sincere moments. The latter obviously informed by Vaughan's own experiences as a new father.
My favorite moment of this issue was Marko asking his wife to tell him a secret because he needed ingredients for a spell. We learn so much about the Moonies (Marko's people) through this momentary interaction, and it also leads to a very surprising, and very human admission. In this issue we also learn a lot about Alana, and how far she's willing to go to protect her child from a galaxy that wants to tear it from her arms. The infamous Horrors finally make an appearance at the end of this book, and all I'll say is: they're not what you expect. Boom, cliffhanger.
Part of me feels like a 24-page monthly doesn't quite do justice to the story that Vaughan is trying to tell. This could easily be a personal thing, since I'm the guy who usually waits for the trade because I'd rather gulp than sip my comics. I'm still securely along for the Saga ride though, and I don't think Vaughan will let me down.
[Connor Cleary is a video game columnist and critic, a freelance web and graphic designer, and an aspiring fiction writer. He is a reviewer at GameShark and an occasional opinion and analysis columnist at Gamasutra. His freelance design business is Four Stair Multimedia and Design. You can follow Connor @The_Blue_Key, or at fb/TheBlueKey, or check out his writing archive on tumblr, The Blue Key.]