Thursday, 15 March 2012

New Beginnings - Saga #1 & Saucer Country #1

This week we have two very different new comics to take a peek at. In one hand I have Paul Cornell’s Saucer Country and in the other Brian K Vaughn’s Saga. Both are brand new this week, both are sci-fi but both are from very different ends of the spectrum.

Saucer Country, on DC’s Vertigo imprint, is a new “real life” comic following the campaign of a Hispanic, divorced woman aiming to go from Governor to President in modern day America. Now this all sounds very politically correct (please excuse the pun) but there is a twist given away in the title for this is Saucer Country, land of the little green – or grey as you prefer - men.

The opening issue is one mainly dealing with the prejudices that Arcadia Alvarado is facing publicly but also opens up her private life too. She’s plagued with vivid dreams whilst sleeping and has a mind that plays tricks on her whilst she’s awake. All pointing towards something bigger and subliminal that is try to creep out but she just can’t quite get there. Equally you are also introduced to Professor Kidd who is her polar opposite with full blown interactive visions. Kidd isn’t the focus of the story in this issue so he’s brushed over but there is something to build from. The story starts to capitulate with an impassioned and driven speech, however the final twist is left to burst into the story as it ties everything together. We are being invaded and the Governor is there to stop it.

Cornell is a well known writer and most recently has finished a stint on Stormwatch, Demon Knights and Batman & Robin for DC. I’ve known a lot of his work over the last couple of years whether it is comic or TV but this time I have to admit I struggled. The story is labelled as for mature readers and that is completely true. I actually think it was a little mature for me as I use comics as my own little world of escapism. Please don’t misunderstand me when I say this though as it’s well written and full of feeling, just not what I expected or was looking for.

From a very similar writing creed we also have Saga from Brian K Vaughn. This comic has to have one of the most unique openings I have ever read with the immortal line of “Am I shitting? It feels like I’m shitting!” and from there on it, in its very own quirky way, the story continues. Moving from one extreme in Cornell’s writing to the other end of the scale Saga is almost a Shakespearian Romeo and Juliet affair, if you crossed it with The Terminator. The story is told in part in a retrospective point of view from the daughter who has just been brought into the world.

As much as it is a different type of story, it’s also the same too. This is all set with a political backdrop. The war is based on prejudice and a lack of understanding of a different people. When stripped back to its bare bones this is a story that has been told numerous times in a variety of forms. It is the surrounding aesthetics that make it different and new.

Vaughn’s previous writing on the Buffy comic is quite evident here as there are horns and wings aplenty! What is interesting is that Vaughn’s opposing stance in the story is an almost mechanical and robotic one. The mix of cultures, ideas and images does create a lot to think about especially when it has a hint of lore also interwoven through its fabric. The other strange thing about it is that the more I think about it the more I notice, like the strong feeling of responsibility, tradition and honour that also underlies it all. I’ve been really impressed by the story and found it a very entertaining read as well.

Fiona Staples has provided the artwork and is not a familiar artist for me. Her work isn’t as detailed as I prefer but it is packed full of emotion and sentiment. There are frames when the written pieces are only in support of her work so I’d count that as an achievement. It also supports the story as a whole and works very well with the writing.

Of the two comics Saga has made a bigger impression on me and is the one I would most likely follow. Saucer Country definitely has an X-Files appeal but isn’t the type of thing I read, however it is something that I think others will take a shine to. Interesting work from both screenwriters indeed!

Matt Puddy is resting his foot and eagerly awaiting The Hunger Games

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