The problem/great thing about graphic novels is that they’re a quicker read than regular novels (and more expensive, unfortunately). This means I can clear through a volume of a series in an evening, but I can’t post that quickly. That means a double post today.
First up, we have Volume 3 of The Sandman series: Dream Country. Reviewing this series is a bit strange because I’m reviewing as I’m going, so I’m not reviewing the totality of the collected works and I’m reviewing the volume against the preceding volumes. In the scope of the first two volumes, Dream Country is the least interested in telling a continuous story issue to issue. It’s more like a series of one-offs, with Morpheus not being around much of the time (and not even referenced in one issue). This makes for a very different experience. It helps flesh out the world the series operates in and the general ideas Gaiman is trying to put out, but it does so at the expense of the larger narrative. That’s not to say it won’t ultimately pay off, but right now, it doesn’t contribute. Think of it like a project draft pick who won’t produce as a rookie but might be a contributor later on. It’s a gamble. At this point, the art work and tone seem to be fairly solidified. We’ll see how it holds up over the later volumes, but we’ve definitely stayed away from the first volume’s art and tone.
Next up, we’re rolling to the first volume of Saga by Brian K. Vaughn and Fiona Staples.
Saga is published by Image Comics, best known for the Spawn and The Walking Dead series. I’d love to tell you how awesome I am about finding this non-DC and non-Marvel comic all on my own, but I found it on a Buzzfeed list of comics for new readers. I can at least say I was discerning as I worked my way through that list. I only bookmarked 3 of the series. I dodged the more mainstream ones mostly because I didn’t want to really like them and then feel the need to catch up on the entire series. And then before you know it, I’ve fully turned into Sheldon Cooper with a an exhaustive comics collection.
Tangent: I don’t understand how people can by comics issue-by-issue. It’s too easy to go through an issue quickly, and then you’re stuck waiting for the next issue to come out. With the collected volumes, I can work my way through as my heart desires. Is it less expensive because it doesn’t seem like it possibly could be?
But back to the main topic: Saga. The series is a grand scale space adventure that blends science fiction and fantasy (I consider them distinct genres, though they’re very much related). It actually has a similar feel in the broader context to Star Wars. You have interplanetary wars, advanced technology, and some magic thrown in for good measure. This is where the similarities end. Saga is not a family-friendly affair (and keep in mind I’m saying this right after watching Episode III and Anakin dice up a bunch of children). Saga takes on a subversive tone as it addresses political and military maneuvering. We follow the saga (get it?) of two new parents who come from opposing sides of the military conflict, complete with under- and overtones of racism (speciesism?) as they are being tracked down by the people in charge from both sides of the line.
It has a good sense of humor, good artwork, and George R.R. Martin’s sense of “let’s kill someone off soon,” though they haven’t been as sadistic about it so far. Totally worth a read. I’ll probably order the full series sooner than later.
With that, we’ll be moving onto other books bought in recent bookstore visits. The last visit in particular was a very comic-heavy haul.