Fiona Staples and Brian K Vaughan have been blowing the lid off of comics for nearly five years now with their Image title Saga, a comic about intergalactic war, politics, sex, death, betrayal, true love, parenting, reality TV and alcoholic hack writers.

I had exactly one complaint about this comic: Staples and Vaughan just took too damned long to publish new issues. The stupendous third collection took nearly a year to surface, and then the fourth came out six months later, along with a deluxe edition collecting the first three books between one set of hardcovers, accompanied by inspired excerpts from Staples' sketchbook.

It's been nine months since, and at last, the fifth book is in hand.

Staples gets top billing on this collection, and Vaughan told me that the current storyline was of her making. This makes her one of comics' most inspirational figures, because book five features such incredible art and such incredible storytelling that the idea that they both originated with one person beggars the imagination.

You should be reading Saga. It's got that Mos Eisley/Transmetropolitan/Zita vibe of every conceivable alien race all jumbled together in a kind of bizaare bazaar, with all the colorful aesthetic business that this lets the visual artist go crazy with.

When George Lucas filled Mos Eisley cantina with every manner of muppet, he implied a huge and weird universe with politics and trade and pervy sex and depravity. But when he actually sat down to flesh out all that interspatial politics, it turned into the minutes from a trade conference with a bit of racist stereotyping around the edges.

The Saga universe is also a universe dominated by politics, war, and economics — but it's anything but dull. With book five, Staples takes us deeper into futuristic politics than we've gone so far in the story, but in such a skilfull, even terrifying way that it's even more fun than all the fucking and killing that the first four books featured (though there's some awesomely dirty dragon sex stuff in this one, too).

And of course it ends on a cliffhanger. Christmas is coming soon — fingers crossed for another collection in time for the tree. In the meantime, go and read this and then re-read it and then give copies to all the best people you know.


Saga Volume 5 [Fiona Staples & Brian K Vaughan/Image]