Leo Tolstoy’s famous opening sentence in Anna Karenina reads, “All happy families are alike but each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.” While our family in Saga isn’t quite unhappy, it has got problems, and boy are they unique. Running from an inter-galactic war with a new-born baby has thrown extraordinary challenges at Alana and Marko, but the always dreaded introduction to the in-laws is proving to be just as tough a challenge for the young couple.
What has made Saga so remarkable up to now has been the blend of the surreal with the real. Brian K. Vaughan’s rich imagination has introduced us to the most bizarre characters and creatures atop a universe bursting with unique planets and worlds. With foliaged spaceships, a polygraph testing cat, and the most ill proportioned genitalia you will ever see in a comic book, the reader is spoiled with a treasure chest of abstract ideas. It is, however, Vaughan’s flourishing characters and faithful family themes that tie the whole series together and bring the story back down to Earth.
Family rises above all else in this series, and this issue is a strong example of all that. Capturing the young vibrancy and strong beliefs of Alana and Marko’s relationship has kept the series fun and made the characters very likable. Alana continues to be the fierce mother, willing to do anything to protect her daughter from the cruelness and dangers of the universe. Her scenes with Marko’s father are poignantly executed, as we see his dying wishes are simply to hold his grandchild and help protect her any way he can. Whether you’re in a flying tree in a distant universe or back home on Earth, the family dynamic never changes, and Vaughan lets this idea shine in Saga without getting overtly sentimental.
The same point can be made for Fiona Staples’ art. Her imagination and talent is there for all to see. The characters in Saga range from the majestic to the downright repulsive. With all the things we have seen so far, it seems anything is possible in this comic, but as I previously stated, it’s the real nature of the story that readers will ultimately cling to. Staples is a master at conveying emotion in her characters and is a large part as to why we feel so attached to them. Her art is such a vital part to the storytelling it’s hard to imagine anyone else doing it.
2013 promises to be another huge year for Image comics, and Saga is leading the way. If you haven’t adopted comic’s new favourite family, it’s not too late. We all know families are hard work, so take a break and read about another one; you’ll see you’re not alone.