Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Review: Saga #4

Tim's Review:
Brian K Vaughan and Fiona Staples continue to bring awesomeness to the table with Saga – this issue in a disturbing way that is decidedly not for the faint of heart. In issue 4, Alana and Marco discuss ‘Gwendolyn’, the last page A-bomb from issue three. Meanwhile, The Will visits a place called ‘Sextillion’, which is just as graphic and disturbing as it sounds.

As always, the relationships that are so lovingly crafted by Vaughan are natural, open and honest. I’m enthralled by Alana and Marco – They’re Romeo and Juliet in the real world. They bicker and argue, but there’s no denying the deep connection between the two – each willing to lay their life down for the other. Their love fir their daughter Isabel is also evident, and written in a way only possible by someone with children. The relationship between the two parents and their new ghost ‘babysitter’ is also first class, punctuated by Vaughan’s excellent dialogue. Whether it’s his experience as a screenwriter or his natural ability, Brian K Vaughan writes some of the best dialogue in the business. Always sharp and well paced, it feels natural and often has a poetic wit about it.
The Will is shaping up to be a really interesting character. He’s the bad guy – his job is to hunt down the main protagonists - but he’s kinda really cool. He has a great moment in this issue that, in wrestling terms, won us over to him. I’m really looking forward to seeing what Vaughan has in store for him.
Fiona Staples is asked to draw some tough things in this issue, and she does it with grace and style. She has really captured the vibe of Vaughan’s universe – it’s messed up, but not in a harsh way. Her work is very soft and organic, and I think the lettering and design work from Fonographics plays a huge part in achieving the desired aesthetic.
The world needs more books like Saga and creators like Vaughan and Staples. They deserve your money.

Oliver's review:
My heart is torn. And I will tell you why. I have never been exposed to much of Brian K. Vaughan's work in the past. I think it was only Runaways that I've read, one of My more personal favorite fruits of labor in the Marvel U.

That being said, I approached saga with an open mind because of all the hype surrounding it. And so far, I have thoroughly enjoyed the book.....and this issue that I'm doing a review with in particular. 
But there's a downside too...

Perhaps there has never been a much bigger push for indie books than now, and the comic world is all the more richer for it as it lets creators expand their wings. We often associate creator owned books with quality as it is free from editorial propaganda and commercial dictates. But sadly, more often than not, as an outside observer (I have been weaned on traditional super hero comics and mostly, if ever, an indie newbie) what I've seen hasn't totally endeared me to it. Yes, granted the freedom that it brings is fresh but what exactly do we get out of that freedom? What do we consider quality?  Violence?  Extreme violence? Graphic nudity? Which is what this comic is full of. Forgive me, dear reader, if I had to elaborate a little bit going into the "indie vs mainstream" philosophical debate, but I feel I need to in order to express my thoughts and make it clear...also, it is in service to my review of the book.

I am a little bit disturbed because we associate creator freedom with quality and so far, in most popular indie books, you get a high level of sex, gore and violence. If you, dear reader, had been exposed all your life to the world of the graphic word, it won't affect you as much. But if this is what passes for quality these days, if we want people to notice our beloved industry and read comics, then i understand then, why we are where we are. Mostly, if you are from the outside looking in, all I really see is a bad translation of a Low budget Cinemax movie.....

Now, remember when I said at the start how I am torn? Well I guess you could consider this review as being done by two face because the first part of my review had me seeing this comic from the eyes of a casual reader. If I were to be from the street and just picked that book up, that is what I would feel.

Now personally, I rather liked this issue of Saga. The mood and the tone is rather heavy because "The Will" went to a sex planet to find escape. And the depravity of the situation was successfully given life by the talents of Vaughan and Staples. It moved the story forward and it gave us a glimpse into The mind of the enemy. So far, the pacing has slowed down, but I don't really mind it as it has allowed for some moments of character development. We get a little more info on the life of the male lead, knowing some of his secrets. I feel that it might be a foreshadowing of events to come, as they really wanted to stress to the reader this part of his life..
Art wise, I am, as ever, always humbled by the stellar art of Fiona Staples. The first page alone supports that statement.

You can see how creative she is with the designs that she has made for this book. BKV was right in his decision to invite her for this project. I couldn't imagine what it may have been under another artists pen. I truly support the idea that artists, subconsciously pluck their ideas and thoughts from a dimension a few levels above ours. If that were the case, then I would say that Staples holds the key to that place's door. Her work has been nothing but stunning and is the reason why I even took notice of this book anyways.

All in all, a very good issue as it has successfully moved the story forward, giving us some insights into the thoughts and lives of the characters, superimposed with a layer of wit and humor and given life by awesome, awesome art. Pick it up, or wait for the trade, saga, is a worthy addition to your collection.

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