In theory, this is a review of the first 12 issues of Brian K Vaughan’s new comic Saga. It is very very good. In practice, it is mostly a deep meditation on the way stories find us at a time in our lives when they are most needed. Created by writer Brian K. Vaughan and artist Fiona Staples, Saga is the story of two people from different sides of a war-torn galaxy to make a life together with their new baby. Alana has wings and her husband Marko has horns. Their newborn daughter, Hazel, has both. But those are really just details. Like Star Wars  the world of Saga is full of aliens and futuristic technology but it was all just window dressing . Issue #12 marks the end of the comic’s second story arc. The second trade paper back comes out in July. So this is a good time to catch up. The first story follows Marko, Alana, and Hazel as they try to escape the active war zone on “The Cleave.” The second story broadens the world out slightly. 
Along the way they are attacked by bounty hunters and the military who do not want word of a cross-breed baby to get out. It is very good. You should read it. The first issue is free on Comixology; some finer comics retailers are selling it for $1. This may be the best comic I have ever read.
Rethinking My Favorite Comic
My first favorite comic of all time was Transmetropolitan. It was the first “adult” comic I ever read. It was the first non-superhero comic book I ever read. It was the first comic series I read from beginning to end. And for that, Transmetropolitan will always be special. I started reading Transmetropolitan in high school, around the time of the 2000 election and I was pissed. It was cynical, angry and frustrated—and after 19 years of living around right-wing religious assholes, I was ready to get out of town. Spider Jerusalem’s crusade to end corruption spoke to me . Like The West Wing or Hunter S. Thompson’s political writing there is hope that the world can be made better. Spider believes that he can change the world for the better by making his readers understand how messed up their world has become.
The next comic I fell in love with was Scott Pilgrim. I knew Scott in a way I did not know Spider. I was Scott. It was about a guy in his mid–20s who didn’t know what he was doing and was just a little lost. The only different between myself and Scott was that he was a kind-of badass ninja and I have asthma. I went through my 20s with Scott. Scott didn’t have an agenda. He didn’t have any goals. He had a bass guitar, some friends, and was pretty content with the way his life was going.
There are parts of Transmet and Scott Pilgrim that still deeply resonate with me. But I am not the person I was in 1999 and 2004 . I have a wife, baby, dog, and house. I have bills to pay and meetings to go to. I may not be on the run from two waring planets, but Alana and Marko’s experience is not too far off from my own.
The story Saga is narrated by Hazel, who is looking back and reflecting on her parents’ lives, and the lives of the people who helped them along the way. Hazel’s narrations are illustrated as “handwriting” wrapping around the frame. Alana and Marko’s story comes together in bits and pieces and Hazel tells the reader about her family’s escape. It is not just Alana and Marko’s story. It is Hazel’s story. It is everybody’s story.
As we get deeper in the story, it becomes clear that it is a story about making the best of hard time. Being the parent of a one year old is one of the hardest things we can do. We can take classes, study books, read books, and join discussion groups. But none of it prepares you for the reality of caring for a newborn baby. When I talk to co-workers or friends I joke that “babies are like puppies.” Which, in a very reductive way, is completely true. Neither babies nor puppies can care for themselves. They need help eating, pooping, sleeping, etc. But the reality is babies are 100% different. The challenge of getting through those first few weeks seems so insurmountable. But it is a challenge that has been repeated billions of times.
At one year, give or take, Rooney is doing pretty good for himself. He can toddle pretty well. He eats anything we put in front of him. He loves to explore. We couldn’t ask for a better 12 months.
But, like Hazel, it is really Rooney’s turn to write the story. He is the guiding vision driving the something something. We might not be trying to escape from two waring planets - but he is not a bit player. This is his story.
Clearly the original films. ↩
Seriously. We shit on Admiral Akbar for very good reasons. Awesome puppets do not make for science fiction based in reality. He is a freaking fish space commander! ↩
Spoiler Alert Marco’s parents show up as they get off The Cleave. Marco’s ex-fiancee shows too. And also a evil space fetus. ↩
Looking back on it, that is not really a good thing. Spider was a pretty fucked up guy. ↩
Give or take an asthma attack. ↩