Thursday, August 15, 2013

A Quickie Review of Saga, Volume 2, by Brian K. Vauhan

Saga, Volume 2It's probably obvious by now that I'm not as comfortable reviewing graphic novels as I am with standard novels. It's more or less an entirely different medium, and my ability to criticize it is just not very well developed. I can't, for example, effectively comment on are style or layout because my experience is simply inadequate. However, my mission on this blog is to share good stories when I find them and warn against the bad ones. This is a good story.

Saga was a weird little reading detour for me. I'm not sure why I picked it up, considering the fact that the only graphic novel series I've bothered to invest time and money in (Fables and Sandman), were ones I chose because they have legitimacy and history and dozens of great reviews to recommend them. Saga, on the other hand, is fairly new. This volume only marks issues 7-12, but every single issue is a larger than life demonstration of the upper limits of what graphic novels can do when it comes to the weird and the wonderful.

Story-wise, we are still following newborn Hazel and her family, and this volume introduces us to her paternal grandparents. What has impressed me most about the series so far is the layer of sincere emotion laying right alongside the bizarre-creepy-gross. Alana and Marco fell in love, not entirely by accident--you kind of get the sense that they really wanted to. Irrational and impulsive though they might be, they really just want to hold their family together. When that means being honest with Marco's parents, and when they seem to react badly, Marco and Alana are prepared to stand their ground.

The dialogue is the best thing about this book. It's funny without being too silly. Whenever you're in danger of taking this book too seriously, the characters are there, hanging out right on the edge of ridiculous. I particularly enjoyed meeting the author of the trashy novel that changed Alana's life. He offers this sneaky little commentary on author intention vs. reader interpretation, while never tipping us off as to what his real leanings are. This, in the same book that has robot alien sex and monster penises. It's a raunchy book, but the sex and unapologetic nudity pretty much work in context. It's not a book for children, but again, the weirdness is part of the charm.

 In any case, I fully recommend that this is not a book for everyone. It is explicit and it is violent and it is easily the strangest thing I've read this year. At the same time, if that warning doesn't put you off, I encourage you to at least give the first twelve issues of Saga a try. It's worth experiencing. 4.5 stars

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