[Dumb Books] Saga, Volume 1 by Brian K Vaughan & Fiona Staples

Saga, Volume 1

A few weeks ago, I read a really funny tweet written by this girl who lives in my city. Now, I read a lot of tweets during the day, and most of the people I follow are very funny. What this girl wrote caught me off guard, though. I started reading more of her tweets during class, laughing at every one, which bothered the students I was attempting to ignore, and I spent the next several hours working on a funny reply to that first one I had read. Please, note that this effort was expended to make first contact with a girl who I did not know and was not in any way talking to me on Twitter. She was talking to my friend, but, much as I do at parties, I attempted to worm my way into the conversation by being funny. Funny is sort of my go-to in most situations. Every situation, really. Anyway, it worked. For a second, at least. I was part of the joke for a few tweets. Then, she was on to something else, and I had to wrack my brain to figure out what else I could do to catch her attention. Since then, I’ve probably popped up on her radar a few times with a joke or comment or something, but I haven’t made real contact, yet. Maybe, one day, I’ll actually meet her. Maybe not. The thing is, I barely know anything about her, other than she is one of the funniest people I have ever encountered. She could be a horrible person who drowns kittens for fun. Like Hitler for kittens. Kitler. But, from what I’ve seen her write, I think she’s amazing. Why am I mentioning this? A few reasons, but mostly because I want you to pity me before I mention that I read comics.

Telling people you read comics is a bit like farting in the line for communion. No one knows how to react. So, most often, they pretend they heard nothing. If they do react at all, the reaction normally happens in three stages. The first reaction is commonly incredulity. “You read… comics? Like Spider-Man?” Yeah. Well, no, I don’t read Spider-Man. I do read other comics, though. Comics like the one I’m writing about today, Saga. The second most common reaction usually follows quickly after the first. It’s the sound people make when they see a really ugly dog. It’s an “aww” with a slight head tilt and a scrunching of the eyebrows into a worried look, like they just saw a toddler with brittle bone disease attempting to descend a spiral staircase. The third reaction is palpable pity, especially noticeable, if you attempt to explain why you read comics. It’s like they found out that the reckless, brittle-boned toddler has leukemia. In light of that, I wanted to set you up to feel pity right away and skip the other two reactions. Someday, I may write an article about why I read comics, but, today, I just want you to know why I love Saga.

Saga is a story about a little girl that two armies fear. Not fear in the way I still have nightmares about the troll from Earnest Scared Stupid, but feared in the way the US government fears people like Edward Snowden. They aren’t so much afraid of the baby girl herself, unless some of them have pedophobia or something, but rather what she represents. To them, she represents the worst possible fate for their people: peace. See, the armies come from a planet called Landfall and its moon called Wreath. They have been fighting for so long that what was once a war has now become a blood feud. The feud powers the governments of both the people of Landfall and Wreath. Since they look a little different from one another, it’s easy to keep the bloodshed going with propaganda calling the people to kill “those animals from the (planet|moon; circle one).” Thankfully, unlike they do in this story, we don’t have the problem of being goaded into hating people for insignificant differences like the way we look.

The girl’s mother and father are from Landfall and Wreath, respectively, and were once soldiers in the never ending war. At the time of the story, they have long deserted their armies to be together and live outside of the conflict. It’s not that easy, however. The governments of Landfall and Wreath, wanting to go to war without all the messy bloodshed on their front lawns, have outsourced the battle to every corner of the galaxy. With the governments of both sides trying to kill them and their daughter and the war being waged on nearly every planet in the galaxy, the only choice the new family has to survive is to keep running.

What I love about this story isn’t that it’s set in space; though, I do love good space opera. It’s not that it involves both sci-fi technology and magic, which is cool. It’s that, at the heart of it, it’s about people that just don’t want to fight, anymore. They have realized wars of ideals are stupid and pointless. The only people that ever suffer from conflict are the peons and the bystanders, and the only people who ever gain anything are the ones already on top. They don’t care about stopping the war. They’re not revolutionaries. They’re just tired parents. They’re running from two governments who see their little girl as proof that the people of Landfall and Wreath aren’t really so different. The governments know that, if other people find out about her, they would come to the same conclusion. Then, the perpetual motion machine of war might be brought to a halt by the mere existence of a little girl whose parents decided fighting wasn’t for them. That emotion is even mirrored in the people that the government sends to kill them, from the robot prince who is about to become a father himself to the freelancer who can’t escape responsibility no matter what he tries.

This isn’t the first volume of a story where love conquers all. That’s certainly not the moral. It’s the story of a two people who saw that they had something in common with each other, and decided that taking a risk to be together is better than the relative safety of being apart. Maybe they’re right. Maybe I should have the courage to just ask out that girl. Maybe.