Saga #1
Publisher: Image Comics
Writer: Brian K Vaughn
Penciller: Fiona Staples

Returns, especially ones that are highly anticipated are a tricky thing. Oftentimes expectations run rampant and are impossible to satisfy. Brian K Vaughn has been away from comics for a long, long time now. Even if his comic writing muscles hadn't atrophied a bit during his time in television, it would almost be inconceivable that he would be able to satisfy the hype surrounding his long awaited return, right? Wrong. The first issue of Saga is a celebration, in which Brian K Vaughn's enthusiasm for medium overflows, and a testament to the craft of a two giants in the industry.

What better way to mark a new beginning than with a birth? So begins the first issue of Saga. Meet new parents Marko and Alaina. Two soldiers on the opposite sides of a war, despite all odds, they met, fell in love, and are now parents of a newborn baby girl. Scant moments following the birth of their daughter, our protagonists are on the run. Both sides of the conflict want them dead, leaving the odds as one small family against an entire universe. Marko and Alaina set out on an impossible quest, survive, and show their daughter that maybe the universe isn't the horrible place it looks like.

Brian K. Vaughn's trademark skill for dialogue and characterization is well on display. The characters may not be human (some have antlers, some have wings, some are robots with tv's for heads and an affinity for doggie style), but all are instantly relatable and fascinating. Saga represents a departure from Vaughn's previous work which was incredibly grounded aside from one or two key elements. Contrary to precedent, in Saga, BKV is creating a whole universe, one that seamlessly blends the worlds of fantasy and science fiction in a way that only comics can really pull off in any sort of satisfying fashion.

Fiona Staples' artwork is simply gorgeous. Saga is one of those books where an artist can be allowed to just go wild, and under the challenge they will either soar or break. If this first issue is any indication, Staples will soar on this series. While my favorite sequence was the parents interaction following the birth, there are just so many instances on which I could applaud the art both in terms of design and composition. I think what I love the most about Staples' art is the emotiveness of her characters. She sells the love of the protagonists for each other and their new child through their expressions and body language, making an excellent counterpoint to Vaughn's flirty dialogue.

Full disclosure, any comic that gives me 44 pages of story and art with no ads for $2.99 is already ahead of the game in my mind. But 44 pages of great story and amazing art, for $2.99? Done deal. This is a great comic. This is a comic written and drawn by people who love comics. I promise you, picking up the first issue of Saga is a choice you will not regret. This is the next big thing in comics. This is the book that will lead the 2012 revolution and re-energizing of Image Comics.

Grade: A

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