Family Is What You Make It: A Celebration Of Staples & Vaughan’s ‘Saga’
Since its first issue, debuting on this day in 2012, Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples’ Saga has become the benchmark for independent, creator-owned series that solidified Image Comics as the place for exciting new indie series, and paved the way for the likes of Sex Criminals, Rat Queens and The Wicked and The Divine to follow.
Set amid a centuries old war between the planet Landfall and its moon Wreath, the story sees soldiers from either side fall in love against all the odds, and go on the run with their newborn baby. Along the way, they and we encounter bounty hunters, royalty, novelists and journalists, all with their own stake in the future of this family --- though they just want to get far enough away from the war and live together in peace.
Saga stays fresh because of how unique and innovative it is, constantly throwing new concepts and designs at its readers, and you really get the sense that the universe is so much larger than Vaughan and Staples have shown you so far. Whether it’s regal robots, Lying Cats, or sex workers who are literally giant heads with legs, every issue of Saga presents something you’ve never seen before.
If Saga is about one thing more than anything else, it’s the idea that family is what you make it, and nothing exemplifies that more than the star-crossed lovers and leads, Marko and Alana, who broke battle lines to fall in love and have a daughter, Hazel. Their quest to settle down and raise Hazel in peace is the driving force of Saga, but the idea of family is turned on its head multiple times throughout the series, and whether it's Prince Robot IV’s quest for his son, or The Will’s adoption of Sophie, family remains the driving force for Vaughan and Staples’ story.
Saga’s publishing model of regular hiatuses in-between arcs has allowed Fiona Staples to draw every single issue of the series, which makes everything about the series stronger. No-one is quite on Staples’ level when it comes to character designs and striking imagery, from the brazen swinging testicles of a three-eyed giant, to the intimacy and reality of childbirth right on the very first page.
Staples' ability to convey reactions, emotions and body language is vital to Saga's world-building, which is established one character at a time. When Marko unsheathes his sword to defend his family, it's not played as a badass moment, because you can see the regret on his face with every action, and even when Staples draws characters from the robot kingdom, who have television screens for heads, the images broadcast onscreen from one-panel to the next always say more than the words coming out of their mouths (or speakers).
Saga is everything you could want from a space-epic, intense action, planet-hopping adventure and a cast of colourful and unique aliens, but it’s the characters that make it shine. Saga is about throwing in with the people you love and taking on the world, and that’s a theme that is truly universal.