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Mars Ain’t The Kind Of Place To Raise Your Kids

Alix reviews Saga, Vol. 1, Brian K. Vaughan's latest graphic novel about an interspecies couple who have way worse new parent issues than getting a good nights' sleep or being peed on.

Mars Ain’t The Kind Of Place To Raise Your Kids

BOOK REPORT for Saga, Vol. 1 by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples

Cover Story: What to Expect When You’re Expecting an Interspecies Alien Baby
BFF Charm: Maybe, and Yay!
Swoonworthy Scale: 2
Talky Talk: Brian K. Vaughan IN TIME AND SPACE!
Arty Art: Eyes Wide Shut Party at the Furry Convention
Bonus Factors: Shades of Gray, World Building
Relationship Status: Let’s Take It Slow

Cover Story: What to Expect When You’re Expecting an Interspecies Alien Baby

I have to give this book props, because when I think “comic book boobies,” breastfeeding is not normally the first thing that pops into my mind. In fact, despite my well-documented dislike of cartoon boobs, I find this cover kind of hilarious in its ability to turn a comic stereotype on its head, reducing something that’s normally hyper-sexualized in the genre to a purely functional object. Well played, Staples, well played.

The Deal:

Immediately following the birth of their daughter, newlyweds Alana and Marko are forced to go on the run. Coming from different sides of the same war, Alana and Marko fell in love and deserted their respective armies, Alana quickly becoming pregnant with Marko’s child. For unspecified reasons, both sides of the war effort are extremely interested in not only killing Marko and Alana, but capturing their interspecies baby alive. As the family are pursued by ruthless bounty hunters and soldiers, Alana and Marko also have to deal with the more mundane difficulties and squabbles of all new parents, but exacerbated by their crazy circumstances.

BFF Charm: Maybe and Yay!

I don’t know about our hero and heroine yet, Marko and Alana. They’re fine, I guess, but they’re so busy being new parents while on the lamb that I don’t feel like I’ve gotten to know them well yet. As best I can tell, Alana is kind of self-righteous and Marko has some PTSD issues that would make me fear for my safety around him. Plus, they’re just so wrapped up in their relationship that I think they’d be kind of insufferable to be around. But then again, no one is at their best when they haven’t slept in days while being pursued by a bunch of murderous lunatics, so I’ll withhold judgment for now. Better luck with my BFF charm next time, guys.

But Izabel, the dismembered ghost of a young girl blown apart from a landmine, gets my instant allegiance. She’s a straight-talker and makes an excellent babysitter for ikkle Hazel while her parents are constantly bickering.

Swoonworthy Scale: 2

Meh, nothing is really happening for me in the swoon department. Part of the problem is that we are jumping into their relationship somewhere in the middle, so we see the cranky new parents rather than the initial passionate spark. But mostly, I find Alana and Marko to be the most annoying type of couple, the kind that are SO INTENSELY IN LOVE but then fight about stupid shit because they don’t actually know each other well at all.

It should be noted, though, that while there is not a lot of swoon, there is a lot of sex in this book. Artist Fiona Staples really puts the graphic into graphic novel.

Talky Talk: Brian K. Vaughan IN TIME AND SPACE

Vaughan gets his own Talky Talk descriptor because he’s just that awesome. Responsible for my YA Graphic Novel favorites, Y: The Last Man and Runaways, BKV knows just how to pace a book in a way that gives you just enough detail to keep you interested, but not enough that you can afford put the book down before finding out more. Saga has a similar feel to his earlier works, but with more space jargon.

Plus, in Saga, BKV has this kind of nifty narrative device where sometimes the present plot is voice-overed by Hazel of an indeterminate future date. It adds a nice tension, in that you know she must survive in some capacity, but you’re still never sure if her parents make it.

Arty Art: Eyes Wide Shut Party at the Furry Convention

Y’all, I could not handle the art in this book. I know what you’re going to say. For someone who reads as many graphic novels as I do, I should not be such a prude. But seriously, there is a horrific amount of sex in this book. It’s like the outer space version of the Kama Sutra, but dirtier. I can’t post examples of much of the art, since it will probably get you fired. There’s an entire plot-line that takes place on some kind of brothel planet called Sextillion. Some of it is kind of hilarious, like the dinosaur with a strap-on, but most of it is the stuff of nightmares:

Bonus Factor: Shades of Gray

Hah, see what I did there? But no, I actually mean shades of gray in the moral ambiguity sense, not the smutty fanfic meaning of the phrase. The delineations between good guys and bad guys are not always clear, which always makes the story more interesting. For instance, one of the bounty hunters, The Will, chasing Baby Hazel & Co is kind of an intriguing anti-hero character that I can’t wait to see more of. As Future Hazel describes him,

Like every Freelancer I had the misfortune to eventually meet, he was fucking MONSTER. But as my family was about to learn, some monsters are worse than others...

This is narrated as The Will is trying to, for no personal gain, rescue a six year old girl from sex slavery. DREAMBOAT! But, you know, the fact that he discovered said girl while hanging out on a skeezy brothel planet makes it a little less heroic. I have so many conflicting emotions about you, The Will!

Bonus Factor: World Building

The beauty of a story set in space is that BKV can invent whatever crazy-sounding world he wants. For instance, there is a forest on one planet where ROCKETSHIPS GROW ON TREES. Giant, wooden rocketships just sprouting out of the ground. WANT.

Casting Call:

Freema Agyemanman as Alana

Chris Pine as Marko

I think Chris Pine could pull off a set of ram’s horns.

Elle Fanning as Izabel

Relationship Status: Let’s Take It Slow

So, here’s the deal. Megan no h has been trying to set me up with this book for aaaagggesss. And given that a) Megan is generally really good at setting me up on blind dates and b) things got pretty hot and heavy between me and some of this book’s older cousins, I had pretty high expectations for this date. And it’s not that things went BADLY, it’s just, I’m not sure where this relationship is going. Like, I our date was super engrossing and I’m eager to go on another, but I’m also slightly terrified because I’m pretty vanilla and this book is into wayyyyy kinkier shit than me. So I’m not quite ready to get involved with anything serious yet, but I’m willing to see where the next date takes us.

Alix West's photo About the Author: Alix is a writer and illustrator who spends way too much time reading Jane Austen retellings of varying quality.
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