Thursday, December 12, 2013

Comic Review: Saga Volume 2

    Sometimes, I just don’t get other people.  Look, taste is taste.  I get that I like things that others don’t like.  I get that others like things I don’t like.  But sometimes the disconnect, especially when it comes to people with whom I share similar views, is rather profound.  Many science fiction fans, for example, put Terminator 2 on their list of best sci-fi films.  Huh?  Getting past it being a shallow remake of the first film, it also manages to do all the things everyone hates about the Star Wars prequels, nearly a decade earlier (read: make everyone and everything cool into someone or something stupid and lame).  This struck me again when I picked up the first trade of Saga.  Here was a comic being hailed as one of the best new series, as a great science fiction epic, etc.  Well, everyone who said those things is wrong.  Not saying they can’t like the book, but they’re wrong to claim it as a) good or b) good science fiction.  And as I read the second volume (for a graphic novel club), my bafflement at the love and my general distaste for Saga crystallized.  What Saga is, is not a grand science fiction epic.  It’s a bland retelling of Romeo & Juliet, filtered through years of wink-wink snarky Joss Whedon dialog.  This feels like something a teenager would scribble on the back of her English Lit notebook after discovering Piers Anthony.  It’s like Jewel poetry turned into a comic.  And this from the guy who wrote one of my all time favorite comics, Y: The Last Man.  I don’t get it.

    In skimming the first volume again, as I prepared to read the second, I was struck anew by how uninteresting most of the characters are.  The introduction of The Will and The Stalk made me wish the story would immediately change directions, dropping the sappy love story and turn instead into some science fiction adventure tale.  Alas, by the end of the first volume, one of the only interesting characters to come along was dead.  In volume 2, the other interesting character quickly gets tied up in a creepy anime-vibe storyline I’d rather not dwell on.

    As my comment about the 16 year old girl might indicate, I found this whole thing to be quite childish.  There’s even a lot of ‘shocking’ stuff, that feels like it was thrown in by an adolescent in the hopes of getting a reaction (see: the film career of Lars Von Trier for an example of this on a larger scale).  I was not shocked, but mildly annoyed by obvious stunt writing.  And the narration.  The narration.  Ugh!

    I’ve read worse comics.  Astonishing X-Men, Young Avengers, etc.  These are worse.  But I’ve read few things that make me more angry.  So much wasted talent on such a juvenile and hackneyed series.  And people are eating it up?!  I feel like I’m taking crazy pills.  It’s like when I tried to watch an episode of The Big Bang Theory, and I felt like I was being punked.  Certainly it is not one of the most popular shows on TV, right?  Someone is was having a go.  Alas, it is popular.  And Saga is, unaccountably well received by people who otherwise seem to have a functioning sense of taste and quality.  I don’t get it.

(edit: After the group discussion, I understand more of the reasons why other people like the comic.  From its exploration of parenthood to the 'fun' things it does.  I can't join in on the love; and I am glad I don't have to read any more of it; and I still don't think it's one of the best comics out there.)

Saga Volume Two
Author: Brian K. Vaughan
Artist: Fiona Staples
Publisher: Image
ISBN: 978-1-6070-6692-7


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