I had two graphic novels recommended to me recently, Saga and Death of the Family. I took the break I had over Thanksgiving to read them and was thrilled to find that both were brilliant.
I loved Brian K. Vaughan’s Y series so when a friend, Matt Wencl, recommended Saga, I couldn’t wait to dive in. A mix of science fiction and fantasy, it’s a fun read that throws all sorts of fantastic elements your way while weaving a great story. Beautifully illustrated by Fiona Staples, it was jokingly referred to by Vaughan as, “Star Wars for perverts.” The plot of the first volume revolves around the plight of two parents (Alana and Marko) from different races who are at war, a Romeo and Juliet in space supposing what would have happened if they hadn’t killed themselves. The opening scenes starts off with their baby being born and immediately, I found myself drawn in by the sharp and witty dialogue. A hybrid baby born from the two warring nations could cause a predicament for the parties involved so several groups are sent to assassinate the couple. Strange, but memorably quirky, characters get introduced including a spidery feminine bounty hunter, a cat who can detect lies, a robotic headed prince, and a forest of rocket ships (literally trees that take off into space). Sextillion has one of the most disturbing sequences I can remember in a recent comic arc and I found myself chilled by the dilemma that remains unresolved. It’s such a quick read, I don’t want to give away more other than to say, read it, especially as the first volume collecting the first five issues is only $9.99.
Death of the Family is disturbing. Joker has lost it and Scott Snyder takes the best of all the past Joker tales to weave this new arc that’ll leave you glad you have your face. Literally. There were elements of the Killing Joke, Death in the Family, and even Hannibal and Silence of the Lambs. Joker’s homicidal impulses are on full display here and I kept on finding myself feeling squeamish and disturbed, despite having thought I’d seen everything Joker could throw at me. Then again, the best Joker comics always do that and up the ante. If you’ve enjoyed Batman, you should pick this one up, especially for the little insights into both Bruce Wayne, the Joker, and how the two define each other. Thanks to Megan M. for recommending!