Latest ‘Saga’ collection continues series’ success

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Even comic books are not exempt from the digital age we’re living in. Services like comiXology and Amazon’s Kindle allow comic readers to take the latest and greatest titles with them on their laptops and smartphones. There is only so much room in a home for physical books anymore, so any series’ addition must be from something special.

The latest collection of the science fiction, fantasy series “Saga” is one such addition, one that I’m proud to have on my shelf while other series, including my beloved “Spider-Man” comics, fall to the wayside of digital-only reading.

Despite only being the third collection of Brian K. Vaughan’s tale, “Saga” continues to develop its story at an exponential rate.

Following the star-crossed (to a literal extent sometimes) Alana and Marko, two soldiers on opposite sides of a galaxy-wide conflict who run away to elope, “Saga’s” title is apt.

Every chapter ramps up the tension as bounty hunters, jilted lovers, in-laws, journalists and governments alike look to find Alana and Marko. Some are even looking to put them and their infant daughter, Hazel, down permanently.

Vaughan’s writing balances vulgarity and sweetness excellently, with dialogue so clear you swear you hear it in your ears – whether it is a foul-mouthed Alana juggling motherhood while on the run or the high spirits of teenaged Izabel, an actual spirit, who serves as Hazel’s impromptu nanny.

If the ghost babysitter threw you off, don’t panic. “Saga” takes science fiction and high fantasy and sets the blender to liquefy until you can’t tell the two apart. But, it is far more imaginative than confusing.

Readers should catch up on the previous two volumes to learn the ways of magic, spirits, technology, space travel and the two warring societies in “Sagabefore reading the latest installment.

“Saga: Vol. 3” pays off by spending more time getting to know the characters. This is not just limited to Marko, Alana and Hazel, but also includes their pursuers, rather than just throwing out more crazy details about the universe.

Another big draw to “Saga: Vol. 3” is the art. Fiona Staples continues to bring her best work crafting worlds and characters of pure fancy, while still preserving enough human elements to make it relatable. Expressive faces, color scenery and strong painted strokes make the art intimate, loose and a treat for the eyes.

The character designs, from Marko and Alana’s bearing horns and wings inspired by various creatures in the animal kingdom, to oddities such as Lying Cat, a massive, hairless, naked cat with a gold collar and the ability to detect the truth, all feel like original concepts put to page. Each new creature and location Staples creates is worth the price of admission into “Saga” alone, and “Saga: Vol. 3” more than continues that trend.

It is hard to talk about the strengths of the third volume of this series without tossing credit to the first two books, but the final conflict in “Saga: Vol. 3” resolves in an ending that is satisfying enough to call an ending, even if the series is anything but finished.

That said, since the series is taking a short break, this may have been an intentional move. My recommendation of this comic is not just to people already reading “Saga” and could use a conclusion that feels like the first act, but also for newcomers as this is the best time to catch up.

While this defeats my previous argument that “Saga” is so good that it belongs on your bookshelf, go ahead and download the first chapter for free on comiXology. That was all it took for me to fall in love with this series.

“Saga: Vol. 3” is more of what makes this wild and raw series so charming. Its continued development of characters and plot gets better and better with each chapter, but its ending is just satisfying enough that the long wait between collections is going to be worth it. It’s also a good time for newcomers to jump on board, and I urge them to dive into this story of love, parenthood, magic, spaceships and mystical lie detector cats.

Parker Wilhelm is a senior in mass communications. Please send all comments to edge@kstatecollegian.com.

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