Maybe it’s just me but I’m not in love in with Brian K. Vaughn’s latest series, Saga. The surreal tale of a mother and a father on different sides of a galactic war fighting to be left alone and for their life of their child should be compelling but the book seems almost silly in its inclusion of gonzo sex scenes and bizarre twelve-breasted characters. Brian K. Vaughn has done much better stuff such as Y: The Last Man, Ex Machina, and Runaways.
The story opens on six children, ranging in age from eleven to sixteen, who are keeping themselves company while their parents have their annual meeting about the charitable foundation they run. When the six discover a secret passageway that leads them to the meeting room, they see their parents dressed in outlandish costumes making a human sacrifice of a young girl. Stunned at what they see, they dig deeper into their parents’ secret lives discovering not only things about their felonious guardians but about themselves. Hunted by their parents and just beginning to learn about their powers, they are also unaware that one of the six is actually a traitor.
This book does almost everything right. Every character feels fully fleshed out, a difficult task when you have so many central characters (and both of each’s parents) and have to quickly introduce them all. The series even finds time to plant seeds of stories that will be told in the next volume such as tipping Karolina Dean’s sexuality. At only eighteen issues, the storytelling is tight and to the point but still manages to include different threats and subplots which keep you reading. With the women outnumbering the men on the team 2:1, Runaways has also been praised for its strong central female characters.
The artwork is very clean and easy to follow. The artist fully renders each character with no artistic shorthand but still in a cartoony enough way to pop on the page. The colorists also deserve praise for their contribution, Brian Reber for the first twelve and Christina Strain for the last six.
With its quick wit, solid plot, beautiful art and heartwarming interpersonal relationships, Runaways creates a credible, interesting origin story for its characters. Steeped in teenage angst and girl power, this book never comes off as trite or naïve due to the strength of the writing. Much like Fables, it’s a book I enjoy and it’d also be on the top of my list to recommend to any female comics reader.
Final rating (out of 5):
Writer: Brian K. Vaughn
Artist: Adrian Alphona