Science fiction and fantasy                                            

Saga: Volume Three

by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples


One of the things I enjoy most about Saga is that although it's set in a far future universe of spaceships, magic, and weird and wonderful alien races, it's full of down-to-earth moments that any family should recognise. There are job woes, first steps, and the joy of being woken in the middle of the night to change nappies. Marko and Alana are still on the run, but they've stopped off on the planet Quietus to meet their literary hero, Oswald Heist. Unfortunately people who want them dead are still in pursuit.

We're introduced to a few new characters in this volume. A pair of web-footed reporters, Upsher and Doff, are looking into Alana and Marko's story. They're blundering in, unaware of how much danger they might be putting themselves in. Is any story worth dying for? We also meet The Brand, another mercenary, but one with more conscience and mercy than most of them. These newcomers have fairly small parts to play in this book, as though they're only introduced as foreshadowing for later adventures.

There are several sides to this story, and what's interesting is the nuance in most of the supposed villains. We see the softer side of mercenaries, as well as the more regrettable or ruthless things our good guys have done. As one character points out, it's "the stories with no sides" that worry those in power, and Saga is working out to be just that kind of story.

This volume features plenty of Brian K. Vaughan's characteristic humour, and it's especially self-deprecating when he's taking aim at writers and their lifestyles. There's also plenty of spaced-out weirdness, from flying sharks to animal people of all species. It may be a strange world, but Fiona Staples' artwork is a delight to look at. It's clear, clean and colourful, and she even manages to make amphibious frog people look attractive.

There's quite a lot of violence, as well as some graphic imagery, but it's not quite as in-your-face as Volume Two with its naked giant and blood-drenched cover. The graphic nature of this story seemed to me to be more to do with the story, and less put in there purely for its shock value, than in earlier books. But it could simply be that I'm more accustomed to Saga's style by the third volume.

This is an ongoing story, as the name suggests, so this volume doesn't conclude the story arc with a big showdown. Instead it deepens and complicates the plot, and makes the main characters seem more rounded. Even Gwendolyn, who is a bit of a trigger-happy hard nut, seems pretty engaging by the end. Saga: Volume Three is a subtle story that doesn't give up all of its goods on the first reading. I have a feeling this is one series with the potential to go on for many sequels. Long may it continue.

2nd June 2014

Book Details

Year: 2014

Categories: Books

  Science fiction

  Not For The Squeamish  

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Source: own copy