Thu
Jul 7 2016 4:30pm

Saga: An Otherworldly Romance and So Much More

Saga by Brian K. Vaughn and Fiona Staples

Is Saga a Romance?

Saga features a mix of magic and technology, a space opera setting, and a diverse cast of characters and gender identities. It also includes action-adventure, graphic violence, gore, mature themes, sex scenes (some of it interspecies), and thought-provoking sexual imagery (some romantic, some raunchy).

Does Saga push some boundaries? Heck, yeah! Yet beneath the decidedly adult themes and dark humor is a universal story about the joys and struggles of love and parenthood.

Marko and Alana are fugitives fighting for their lives against a backdrop of interplanetary war. Marko is a soldier and has sworn off violence. Alana, however, won’t hesitate to use violence to protect her family. They share a goal of escaping the war and settling down in peace to raise their daughter, Hazel, but events are constantly conspiring against them.

Saga begins with the birth of the couple’s daughter rather than their meet-cute. And Vaughan has stated that the gist of the story is about parenthood. Therefore, all bets are off regarding romance genre conventions. To be sure, Saga isn’t advertised as a sci-fi romance and it hasn’t ended yet, so I’m managing my expectations accordingly. And yet, Alana and Marko’s romance is a key part of the story. Without their forbidden romance, the whole story falls apart.

That said, Saga feels like it’s being written and illustrated by people who really get romance (there’s even a subplot involving a romance novel). A flashback scene reveals how Alana and Marko met. It’s pretty exciting and, heh, more than a little violent (but not in a sexual assault way). And these two are about as lovey-dovey as characters can get. The story offers plenty of tender romantic moments.

Another appealing element is how Saga explores and subverts gender roles. For example, Alana is just as likely to rescue Marko from danger as the other way around. Marko is a born dad and he gladly takes on routine parenting duties when Alana goes off to work in an over-the-top, futuristic soap opera show.

Compelling and talented secondary female characters abound. The Brand, a stylish Freelancer (mercenary) who takes on all kinds of jobs for the right price, is a personal favorite of mine. Marko’s mother, a skilled soldier in her own right, is another example of the series’ intriguing female characters. She and Alana don’t hit it off immediately and their conflicts are the stuff of legends, but they’re both mature enough to reach compromises as needed for the sake of Hazel.

And if you like hunks, there’s plenty of eye candy to enjoy, from Marko to The Will and other assorted characters! Oh, and these guys offer plenty of personality and depth, too.

Social commentary abounds and Saga deftly uses the combined powers of SF and romance to explore various sociological and cultural issues. Marko and Alana’s daughter, one born of love, represents a huge threat. The warring factions seem more invested in killing a child so they can continue fighting rather than learn that love knows no bounds. And that thematic element is just the tip of the ice berg.

Have I mentioned Fiona Staples’ art yet? The art is gorgeous. That alone is reason enough to read Saga!

One caveat: issue 19 introduces an element that sheds doubt on the couple’s HEA status. I plan on reading further, but wanted to provide a heads up for those who’d want to know. At the very least, where romance readers are concerned, issues 1-18 provide an emotionally satisfying story about Alana and Marko’s romance, marriage, and birth of their child.

Saga is an ongoing series and will have 38 issues out as of September 2016. It’s one of the few comics I’ve found that include a healthy dose of sci-fi romance elements and based on what I’ve read so far, Saga has more than earned the hype surrounding it.


Heather Massey seeks out sci-fi romance adventures and writes about them for Sci-Fi Romance Quarterly. She’s also an author in the subgenre. To learn more about her published work, visit heathermassey.com.

Subscribe to this conversation (must be logged in):
1 comment
P J Dean
1. P J Dean
I adore this series! There is nothing else out there like it. Nothing!
Post a comment