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Friday, October 17, 2014

Reader's Diary #1076- Brian K Vaughan (writer), Fiona Staples (illustrator): Saga, Volume One

As a huge fan of Brian K Vaughan's Pride of Baghdad, I was excited to finally get read the first volume of his critically acclaimed Saga series. Then I was even more excited to see that he had teamed up with another Canadian for the artwork: Calgary's Fiona Staples. It gets to count toward the Graphic Novel and Manga Challenge AND the Canadian Book Challenge? Sweet.

Perhaps I've been reading a bit too much children's and YA lit lately because my first reaction to the opening scenes in Saga were not great. It begins with a woman named Alana giving birth. Fine. She asks if she's shitting. "It feels like I'm shitting." Even that's fine (birth isn't always harps and incense). But a follow-up joke about coprophilia, an f bomb, and a scene with her husband Marko chewing through an umbilical cord (a la Freddy Got Fingered) and I started to think it was trying too try to hard to be risque, to prove it's an adult book. I was also put off by a comment from Alana in response to Marko calling her beautiful, "Right, because nothing's more lovely than a fat woman spread eagle[...]" Fat?! In no universe would hers have been considered a fat body, nor was it the body of someone nine months pregnant.

Despite the disappointing start though, I did get caught up in the sci-fi/fantasy take on the classic star-crossed lovers story. In this case, the lovers come from different planets (or more accurately, a planet and its moon) and their two alien humanoid species (races?) are at war with one another. Plus, you've got to love the angel (wings) and demon (horns) symbolism to really strike home home the point that they really, really shouldn't be together.

Since the war between their two peoples has become rather Big Business, neither side thinks that a love child between the cross-warring tribes is exactly the helpful kind of propaganda and stop at nothing to eliminate them, including hiring some pretty shady characters to take them down. (One of these, named The Will, inherits his own interesting subplot as he finds himself rescuing a young slave girl.). Marko and Alana in the meantime strike a deal with a disemboweled teenage ghost girl to help them escape. Yes, it's a crazy ride.

Fortunately it's also just the beginning of a series and though I was slow to connect, I'm glad to have been won over. I'll definitely be reading further volumes!

2 comments:

Nicola Mansfield said...

I don't think I realized Staples was Canadian! I've only read the first two books but I really like it. I think you are a bit hard on the pregnant woman. Whether she really is fat or not is not the point, she "feels" fat. Pretty much every pregnant woman feels fat at some point of the pregnancy especially at the end just because their body is no longer there own and they feel fat to themselves; when you can't bend over to tie your shoes, heck your feet may be so swollen you can't even wear your own shoes, you can't get out of a chair without a helping hand. etc, etc. You wonder if you'll get your pre-baby body back (first time mums especially) Yeah, you're gonna feel fat. And fat isn't a bad word unless it's used as an insult against someone.

John Mutford said...

Good points Nicola. And as I've obviously never experienced what it's like, I realize I'm treading on thin ice. But just to clarify, I'm not objecting to the word "fat." You mention not being able to tie shoes. Alana would have no trouble tying her shoes. That's my beef. I know not every woman puts on the same amount of weight during her pregnancy, but Alana doesn't appear to have put on ANY! Unless she was severely underweight before the pregnancy I suppose.