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Beyond Superheroes: a Review of SAGA by Brian K. Vaughan
When most people think of comic books (who aren't comic book readers) they think of the theatrical releases that were inspired by their comics—Batman, Justice League, the Avengers—and while superhero comics are certainly the most popular, they're only the metaphorical summit of the comic iceberg.
This domination of the superhero genre has turned many away from comic books altogether. A saddening fact when those of us invested in the industry see so much promising content get piled beneath nonstop action sequences and explosions. Comics that could have the potential to appeal to every member of the household, from brother to sister, to grandmother and grandfather.
So what if you're like me and the superhero genre has never appealed to you, or perhaps you find at this stage every hero comic falls within every synonym for 'repetitive'?
A Comic for Every Demographic, Every Genre, for You
The truth about the comic industry is that it serves every demographic, every genre. Buried under the surface of the water is an ever-larger body of content that goes beyond superhero tropes, seemingly invisible to the skeptic who believes comics are a child's domain.
To present my case to those who shun comics as nothing more than a feast of gore and action sequences, I will share with you my personal favorite comic, one that has touched me emotionally as I never thought a comic could.
Saga is an epic space opera/fantasy comic book series created by writer Brian K. Vaughan and artist Fiona Staples, published monthly by Image Comics. 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.— ImageComics
An Introduction to SAGA
I won't spoil it for you; it's a comic already into its 48th issue as of writing this, with more issues to come.
You get to see how the characters react to loss, stress, and disasters which come in many forms. You will find yourself feeling for the characters, almost shedding tears at times.
This comic can be much like 'a game of thrones' in that you never know who will live or die in the next issue, or if there will be any gory action to take place at all.
To see a mercenary let go of himself after the sudden loss of his beloved sister, before embarking on a quest to pull the shattered remains of his life together only to be stomped out like a spent cigarette.
The cries of a child who never got to say goodbye to her new friends, and first love, before their swift, and heartbreaking annihilation.
To see lovers Marko and Alana struggle to keep their relationship together while caring for their baby Hazel while being hunted down by mercenaries, dealing with drug addiction, and facing off against all sorts of predators that inhabit their galaxy.
You get to see hazel grow up, to realize she is not like the other children, to see her struggle with her emotions as she tries to figure out who she is, and why there are people so desperate to hunt down her family.
You see Marko struggle with his pacifistic ideology as a former bloodthirsty soldier turned loving father and faithful partner as he is forced to commit acts of violence to protect his loved ones.
While I've thrown some shade at Marvel and DC for their reliance on action and violence to captivate readers, SAGA has its share of gruesome scenes.
But unlike most of these comics, the action, the brutality, it is all in its own way justified by the simple desire that we all share. To keep our loved ones safe from harm. A fact that in the storytelling universe, SAGA has mastered unlike any other.
Your eyes will be glued to your tablet, or your book, in anticipation for each of the many archs that make up this incomplete series.
Please treat yourself, dear critic of all things comic, to something as distant from common tropes and as vast as it is this series' universe that serves as it's background.
Here's where you can Begin in Your Search for a Suiting Comic Series
As I've said in the beginning, there is a comic right for everybody. It truly breaks my heart that content I once dismissed could go on to have such a profound impact on me.
Now I find myself diving into an ocean of content that keeps me glued to my seat, striking me in such vulnerable places.
There is a comic out their, waiting to touch you, just as it has me. Finding the right one for you can be difficult, but thanks to some free online services it's much easier to find a comic that best suits what you desire.
SelectSmart provides an online quiz that will help you determine which comic to start out with, or which comic you should experience next. It should be noted that the linked page was published in 2008, so their suggestions would predate that time period.
Another great resource is ReadComicsOnline. They offer a wide variety of comics which you can preview before making any purchasing decisions. Simply filter by popularity and keep on scrolling until something catches your eye. That's actually how I found saga.
And who knows, there may even be a comic series based on your favorite TV show (Looking at you Rick & Morty fanbase).
What did you think of this article? Let me know in the comments section below!
© 2018 James Wray