Happy 50th Post of Comic Matters here on the Tucson Citizen! For the last year, we’ve had some great discussions on comic books and their influence, why you should read them and what some of the better ones are. With that, I bring you words to live by.
It’s difficult to write good science fiction.
I redact my own saying.
It’s difficult to write science fiction that most people will find enjoyable.
See, a majority of science fiction stories (be it comic books, movies, or novels) can only appeal to so many people before it gets lost. The focus of the storytelling usually revolves around the new and outlandish concepts and creations of the writers. I’m not saying that’s a bad thing. Nothing excites me more than reading a sci-fi story about time travel to another planet where all people talk through silicon orbs or a story taking place in the future on an exploratory ship through a sun.
And those are just off the top of my head. Imagine an actual talented sci-fi writer putting great thought into it.
Anyway, the comic series I’m writing about this week is called Saga, written by Brian K. Vaughan with wonderful artwork by Ms. Fiona Staples. This is a brand new series launched by Image Comics (the company known for creator-owned work and The Walking Dead). Now, it’s currently risen to the top of my reading pile.
Technically, that has not happened yet, as only three issues have been published (get them now) and I read all of them at once. Twice through.
Something attached itself to me after reading through the first three issues, particularly after seeing Prometheus.
Now for those of you that have yet to see the movie, there won’t be any spoilers here however there was something I noticed after
seeing it. One of its goals was to tell a science fiction story with ground breaking concepts and ideas while balancing human characters and their trials. The focus of the story is on relative newcomer Noomi Rapace, playing Dr. Elizabeth Shaw, as she handles the discovery of mankind’s origins as well as fighting for her life through a traumatic alien disaster.
Personally, I found the movie entertaining and the story was tight-knit enough to the point where mysteries about certain events left me wanting more. All the while, the story attempted to revolve around the young scientist and her husband’s efforts. Again, whether or not it succeeded in this aspect is all dependent on the individual I’ve found.
I spoke to friends and asked their opinions and gotten back mixed reviews. Some think the movie succeeded. Others think it did not.
I’m a big fan of science fiction, but I’ve delved a bit more into the genre than most people so I feel that I can handle crazier things than most. If I tried to show this to a casual moviegoer, etc., someone not so steeped in science fiction lore, would they be as appreciative of Prometheus as I was?
Star Wars, I believe, is the best example of the all-in-one package. It explores new grounds of the future while giving us human characters to identify with. The series (at least the first three movies) did a great job of balancing these vastly different subjects into one.
For a science fiction story to be successful across the board and to appeal to everyone, it has to be able to do this.
Saga, I think, is a story that does just this.
Told from two different time periods, the past being told with the images, while the future is narrated by some mysterious person. Marko(the gentleman with
the horns) and his new wife Alana (the lady with the wings) as their first baby is born. It’s an interesting experience to watch, as Alana screams and curses her way through the process, all the while keeping a cynically-upbeat tone throughout. Markus, her husband, an ever constant source of support
As their baby is born, the newly parented couple is attacked by armored soldiers and what appears to be their general with a television set for a head.
It’s strange, I know.
As the two try to talk their way out of it, more soldiers appear, though these appear more like Marko and use magically powered staves as opposed to technology.
Both Alana and Marko are now at the center of a centuries old war and, because of their conception, are newly wanted war criminals on the run. Together, though, the two plan on surviving as best as they can for their newborn, horned-winged daughter.
It’s a simply elegant story in its creation by master wordsmith Brian K. Vaughan, last responsible for giving us the masterpiece know as Y: The Last Man. This is his next major outing in comic books, and so far, it’s a great start. When I wrote about Y: The Last Man, I noted that he was part of this renaissance in science fiction storytelling called “Mainstream Sci-Fi”, a concept meant to bring sci-fi to the masses of potentially new fans.
Along with J.J. Abrams (Super 8, Star Trek) and Damon Lindelof (Lost, Once Upon a Time), they’re attempting to create new science fiction ideas while balancing humanized figures and their trials.
See, the issue with genre fiction, like science fiction, is that its focus is on the genre most of the time, and not so much the characters. Saga has decided to walk the line in the middle and tell a science fiction epic while focusing on a newly wedded couple with their baby daughter.
None of this would be possible, though, without the fantastic artwork of Fiona Staples. I’ve been familiar with Staples work since she’s been a colorist for many of my favorite comics, but this is the first time I know of where she’s provided the pencils and I gotta say, if this book doesn’t become the major blockbuster it can, she needs to be on one.
Her lines are deceptively simple with a rough edge around them. In issue one, as Marko and Alana try to escape the planet through a forest, a fierce battle is being waged with what can only be described as mechanical-destroying-turtles and flying saucer moths.
In the second issue, we’re shown one of the worst bounty hunters of all time, known as The Stalk. Trust me, when she reveals herself, you may not be able to sleep either.
All words and pictures masterfully combine to create a story worth your time if you enjoy great fiction. Strange creatures. New worlds.
This was some of the most enlightening reading I’ve done in the last few months. I enjoy my superheroics like the next comic book fan, I truly do, but a change of pace now and again is really nice.
Saga is going to be a love story for the ages, and in these three issues Vaughan and Staples have crafted two love-struck characters in Marko and Alana with just a (big) drop of rebelliousness towards their own people. You are immediately compelled to root for them and hope for their victory.
Markus, with his newly adorned father-crown and peaceful ways must find a way to keep his family alive without violence. Alana, on the other hand, must try to be the voice of reason and firmness for Markus as they find their way to survive. If not for them, then for their baby girl. With bounty hunters on their tail and deformed ghosts in the forests just to start, it is going to be a journey I am on board for.
Science fiction can be the most rewarding of readings. If done right, it can have you contemplate your own life while thinking towards the future.
As a newly engaged man myself, Saga hit that point perfectly.