Saga Volume 6 – Brian K. Vaughan

Illustrations – Fiona Staples

When we last saw Hazel she’d just begun kindergarten, which would have been much cuter if either of her parents could have been there to walk her to school.

Despite their absence she still manages to nails her art project, even though it wasn’t exactly what her teacher, Noreen, asked her to draw.

Previously, Lexis and Zizz of the Last Revolution, along with a reluctant Hazel and Klara, had hopscotched their way away from, well, everyone else and managed to cross paths with a whole ship of TV heads. The TV heads Royal Guard had been searching the galaxy for the missing monarch, Prince Robot IV, whose baby had been stolen by Dengo.

If you haven’t read Volumes 1 to 5, then please read them before venturing into Volume 6 or you’ll likely fling this graphic novel across the room in confusion. This is not the kind of story where you can just waltz right into the middle of and think you’re going to know who’s who in the galactic zoo. If you’ve already read 1 through 5, you’re fine. Continue enjoying the twists and turns.

Anyway, as usual, grandmother Klara is on hand to figure things out. She’s one of the best badass grannies I’ve ever met.

They wind up in a detainee centre … somewhere where they meet Doctor Blaize, who may not be feeling so crash hot at the moment …

Oh, and my main girl Izabel reappears in this Volume so I guess one of the suns somewhere finally set. I’ve missed her so much! Her reappearance naturally results in my heart melting, yet again. Mini family reunion!

Hazel meets Petrichor, who intrigues me. I’m interested in getting to know them better. Meanwhile Marko and Alana have been reunited. With each other, not their daughter.

I’ll pretend you didn’t just say “years”. Also, they are reunited with their brilliant treehouse rocketship.

Ghüs, Friendo (Hazel’s pet walrus – I don’t think I’ve mentioned her before), the TV head formerly known as Prince Robot IV and his son Squire, who is definitely not a newborn TV head anymore, are together.

The Will has recovered and looks slightly different than he did the last time I saw him. Sweet Boy accompanies him.

Upsher and Doff returned and while I still don’t like tabloid reporters, no matter which part of the galaxy they’re from, this duo are growing on me. They still don’t rank anywhere on my favourite character list, which is frightfully long at this point, but I’m no longer looking forward to someone dispatching them either. Speaking of blasts from the past, Ginny, Hazel’s former dance teacher, also pops up briefly.

My favourite panels were book related. What a surprise! I love Noreen!

I have the tendency to wander into popular series fashionably late. A good portion of the time I’m not entirely sure what all the fuss is about but where Saga is concerned I definitely get it. Part of me is rueing the fact that I’ve only just discovered it. The other part of me is ecstatic because this means I get to binge read it and not concern myself (yet) with cliffhangers. But, what a cliffhanger!!

Content warnings include graphic sexual content and violence (perhaps I should have mentioned those in my reviews of Volumes 1 through 5).

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Once Upon a Blurb

After a dramatic time jump, the three-time Eisner Award winner for Best Continuing Series continues to evolve, as Hazel begins the most exciting adventure of her life: kindergarten. Meanwhile, her starcrossed family learns hard lessons of their own.

Collects Saga 31-36.

Saga Volume 5 – Brian K. Vaughan

Illustrations – Fiona Staples

Spoilers Ahead!

It’s been three months since we last saw our favourite family. Hazel, Alana and Klara have been kidnapped by Dengo, who has his reasons. He also had his reasons for kidnapping Prince Robot IV’s newborn son. Something about seeing a kidnapper wearing a baby sling with little ducky’s on it humanises him for me, even if he is a robot. You could say that Izabel may also have been kidnapped but, since the damn suns haven’t set, she’s not part of the equation right now. I missed her.

Meanwhile, Gwendolyn, Sophie, The Brand, Sweet Boy (The Brand’s dog) and Lying Cat (awesome, awesome Lying Cat) are searching for a very specific ingredient on Demimonde that they hope will cure The Will. But they may not be alone. Enter Halvor, who is the older brother of The Stalk. Incidentally The Stalk actually had a name – Enriette.

Then there are Prince Robot IV (with his TV head), Marko, Yuma and Ghüs, who have joined forces (possibly temporarily) in order to rescue TV head IV and Marko’s kidlets.

Poor Marko!

We meet the Revolution, a group of resistance fighters who use “asymmetrical tactics” to attempt to end the war between Landfall and Wreath.

They are Lexis (with the pink superhero eye mask), Sirge (the big brown guy with the red flames (?) coming out of his head), Quain (a snake guy from Mawker and the Captain of the Fourth Cell), Zizz (the guy at the back. He’s from Cleave. Remember we were there in Volume 1?), and Julep (the aqua lady in the lingerie).

There’s plenty of action in this Volume and because we’re in a war here, not all of our friends or foes are going to make it to the end of the story, or this Volume if we’re being honest.

Even though Hazel told us herself in the last Volume that she’s not always this adorable, she certainly is in this flashback. Aww!

While we’re talking cutie pies, check out how sweet Lying Cat looks when they’re sleeping. For a series with a brutal war at its core I find my heart melts much more frequently than I expected it to.

Then there’s Ghüs, who is potentially the sweetest of them all. Maybe.

Content warnings include drug overdoses and a character calling another one ”retard”, a word I despise; thankfully it’s challenged.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Once Upon a Blurb

Multiple storylines collide in this cosmos-spanning new volume. While Gwendolyn and Lying Cat risk everything to find a cure for The Will, Marko makes an uneasy alliance with Prince Robot IV to find their missing children, who are trapped on a strange world with terrifying new enemies.

Collects Saga 25-30.

Paper Girls Volume 1 – Brian K. Vaughan

Illustrations – Cliff Chiang

Colours – Matthew Wilson

Spoilers Ahead!

So, there I was, happily binge reading my way through Saga and I suddenly remembered that the first Volume of Paper Girls needs to be returned to the library urgently. I had planned on reading both series anyway for my barely started (😱) 2019 Hugo Awards readathon and while the two series have different illustrators they share an author. Since I am now obsessed with Saga I assumed I’d be gaining a new obsession tonight. After all, when I originally looked at the blurbs for both series, it was Paper Girls that I was more excited about.

Long story only slightly shorter (sorry!), it turns out that I was wrong. Yes, I enjoyed this first Volume but I’m almost certain that I wouldn’t be picking up Volume 2 if not for the Hugos. I’m not emotionally attached to any of the characters I’ve met so far (unlike the immediate connections I’ve felt with practically every Saga character I’ve encountered). I know hardly anything about any of the four Paper Girls and while I’m generally okay with multiple unanswered questions this early in a story I’m not that curious about the answers at this point.

Because Volume 4 has been nominated for a Hugo Award this year I’m convinced there’s awesomeness to come if I give it a chance. There’s a lot of potential here – countless people have vanished, the sky’s now very pretty but definitely not typical, pterodactyls, people speaking unknown languages, time travel, and a group of 12 year olds who are left to figure out what the hell is going on.

It may be a week or two before I begin Volume 2 so the rest of my review will consist of notes I’ve made to remind myself of what I think I already know. Beware: spoilers ahead.

It all begins on All Saint’s, Tuesday, 1 November 1988 in Stony Stream, Ohio. Our four Paper Girls are (from left to right):

MacKenzie (Mac) – smokes, is a Girl Scout, and has a teenage brother. The local police are well acquainted with her family. Her father and stepmother, Alice, met at an A.A. meeting. She doesn’t attend private school.

KJ – carries a hockey stick, goes to Buttonwood Academy and is Jewish.

Erin – the new kid. Her younger sister Missy is her only friend and she attends St. Nicks.

Tiffany – saved up to buy the group’s walkie-talkies. Her mother is a doctor, she was adopted and she attends St. Pete’s.

They don’t know what’s happening and they don’t know who to trust, the teenagers,

the old-timers,

or neither. However they have figured out that they don’t want to be near an Editrix. This is an Editrix.

Teenagers, Heck and Naldo, are from Thirteen. “Oh, right, we kinda rolled back the odometer after Calamity ended all the – -”

The most sense I managed to get from someone I think was an old-timer was, “Children, your questions will be answered, but it’s very dangerous for you to be out during Ablution.”

Content warnings include homophobia, alcoholism and attempted suicide.

I hope an eventual reread (after I figure out all of the pieces of the puzzle I’m currently missing) will result in both a higher rating and an updated review rambling about the brilliance that I missed during my first read.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Once Upon a Blurb

Saga writer Brian K. Vaughan launches a brand new ongoing series with superstar Wonder Woman artist Cliff Chiang! In the early hours after Halloween of 1988, four 12-year-old newspaper delivery girls uncover the most important story of all time.

Saga Volume 4 – Brian K. Vaughan

Illustrations – Fiona Staples

Spoilers Ahead!

I’ve become emotionally entangled with so many of the characters in this series in such a short period of time, so much so that I’m genuinely proud of Alana and Marko for managing to keep themselves and their daughter alive for so long, despite incredibly treacherous circumstances.

By the way, Hazel is a toddler now!

Isn’t toddler Hazel adorable?!

Oh. So, isn’t Hazel adorable right this second?

After having heard of the ongoing war between Landfall and its moon, Wreath, narrowly escaped Cleave, rescued Sophie from Sextillion and visited Alana’s all time favourite author in Quietus, we now get to enjoy watching Hazel spend some time on a bouncy castle in Gardenia. But Gardenia is not the only place we visit in this Volume.

That dwarf planet in the distance there? That’s Robot Kingdom. We get to go to Robot Kingdom!!! And it’s good timing too, because Prince Robot IV is currently missing, but we can’t assume he’s dead, no matter what the tabloids report.

I know we’ve visited before when we’ve been following Prince Robot IV’s story but I can’t get enough of it. They’re robots with TV heads! I love seeing how the image they’re showing on their screen lines up with the situation they’re facing. My favourite in this Volume was a baby being born with the standby signal projected across their screen. That’s priceless!

We meet King Robot, whose design is simply perfect! I laughed as soon as I saw him. His head is a widescreen TV and his sceptre is a remote control. Let that sink in for a moment. That’s definitely worth a chuckle.

A lot of people who came into my family’s life looking like heroes ended up acting more like villains.

I’m not telling you who this refers to in this Volume but what I will say is that I’m not trusting anyone nice in this series ever again! Except Izabel. Please don’t prove me wrong, Izabel!

Thank goodness for that!

Content warning for mention of domestic violence.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Once Upon a Blurb

Saga is the sweeping tale of one young family fighting to find their place in the universe. As they visit a strange new world and encounter even more adversaries, baby Hazel finally becomes a toddler, while her star-crossed parents Marko and Alana struggle to stay on their feet.

Collects Saga 19-24

Saga Volume 3 – Brian K. Vaughan

Illustrations – Fiona Staples

Spoilers Ahead!

So, Hazel and her parents, Alana and Marko, along with her babysitter, Izabel, and Klara, Marko’s mother, have arrived at Quietus. They’ve travelled across the galaxy to see the author of Alana’s favourite book, D. Oswald Heist, despite Klara’s eloquently voiced objections. I’m with Alana! If you have the opportunity to have a conversation with your favourite author, do whatever it takes to get there! Move mountains! Sell a kidney! Travel across the galaxy!

They’re grieving the loss of Marko’s father, who died in Volume 2.

The Will, who endeared himself to me when he saved Slave Girl from being a slave girl, finally gives her a name, Sophie. I practically melted when I found out why he chose that name.

We’re introduced to Even, Alana’s stepmother, who she’s obviously very fond of

and, in case you were wondering, it appears tabloid reporters exist in every galaxy. There’s no escaping them!

Lying Cat stole my heart in this Volume for doing what a feline lie detector does, only this time their response made a huge dent in the shame that Sophie was carrying.

Alana, in perfect book nerd form, responded to seeing a library in a lighthouse

and hearing her favourite author talking about their next book. I also loved this author.

Gwendolyn finally winds up having a conversation with her ex and we spend most of our time in a lighthouse that includes said library. Favourite author consistently spoke my favourite lines in this Volume, the standout for me being

Oh, and look! Our little girl is starting to grow up! Aww! 🥰

I have no idea how I remained unaware of the existence of this series until a couple of months ago but it’s brilliant! I can’t wait to binge read the rest of it!

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Once Upon a Blurb

From the Hugo Award-winning duo of Brian K. Vaughan (The Private EyeY: The Last Man) and Fiona Staples (North 40Red Sonja), Saga is the sweeping tale of one young family fighting to find their place in the universe.

Searching for their literary hero, new parents Marko and Alana travel to a cosmic lighthouse on the planet Quietus, while the couple’s multiple pursuers finally close in on their targets.

Collects Saga 13-18.

Saga Volume 2 – Brian K. Vaughan

Illustrations – Fiona Staples

When we last saw Alana, Marko, Hazel and Izabel they were on board a rocketship, flying away from Cleave, where Hazel was born and where numerous foes have already attempted to capture them. We had just been introduced to Marko’s parents.

In a flashback we get to meet Marko’s childhood dog, Rumfer, who is so cute and has horns (naturally). Speaking of flashbacks, we also get to see how Hazel’s parents met.

When Marko accidentally mentioned his ex, Gwendolyn, in the first volume I wasn’t sure if I’d get to meet her. In this volume I did and she did not disappoint!

I loved getting to know Marko’s parents, especially his father, and decided I need my very own rocketship.

This series seems to be comprised of complex badasses who just so happen to be gorgeous, bloodshed, magic and an interesting storyline that keeps introducing new characters that I instantly love (whether they’re goodies or baddies). I’m fairly certain I’m setting myself up for some ugly crying because there’s no way I can have this many favourites in a war zone and expect them all to survive.

Okay, Marko, if you insist. Bring on Volume 3!

Content warning for mention of death by suicide.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Once Upon a Blurb

The smash-hit ongoing epic continues! Thanks to her star-crossed parents Marko and Alana, newborn baby Hazel has already survived lethal assassins, rampaging armies, and alien monstrosities, but in the cold vastness of outer space, the little girl encounters something truly frightening: her grandparents!

Collects Saga 7-12.

Saga Volume 1 – Brian K. Vaughan

Illustrations – Fiona Staples

Alana is from Landfall, the largest planet in the galaxy, and Marko is from its moon, Wreath. Landfall and Wreath’s ongoing war has spread far out into the galaxy and, because they’re on opposing sides in this war, they were never supposed to fall in love. They were definitely never supposed to have a chid.

This is Hazel. She was born on Cleave, where her parents met. She has her mother’s wings and her father’s horns.

From my very first day, I was pursued by men. All of them tried to hurt me, but only one managed to break my heart.

It wasn’t long before I knew I would have to continue reading this series, no matter what. Actually, it was right about here that it happened.

Horrors? Count me in! Then I realised that this couple weren’t the only ones destined to encounter Horrors. I was soon to encounter a Horror of my very own.

What kind of nightmare world is this?! No time to read???

Incidentally I loved the Horrors, particularly Izabel. Everyone, please meet Izabel.

Those on both sides of this war are trying to track down this adorable family, including Prince Robot IV of the Robot Kingdom (these guys literally have TV’s for heads!)

and The Will, a Freelancer, whose sidekick, Lying Cat, possesses a unique skillset that has the potential to be quite useful. Although The Will is described as a monster he’s definitely the kind of monster I can cheer on, especially when he does this to a slimeball pimping out a child.

I’ve intended to start this series for months and now that I have, I can confidently say that I am so hooked! I love this story! You’ll be hearing a lot about this Saga from me in the coming days.

Content warnings include mention of rape and child sexual slavery.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Once Upon a Blurb

When two soldiers from opposite sides of a never-ending galactic war fall in love, they risk everything to bring a fragile new life into a dangerous old universe. 

From bestselling writer Brian K. Vaughan, Saga is the sweeping tale of one young family fighting to find their place in the worlds. Fantasy and science fiction are wed like never before in this sexy, subversive drama for adults. 

Collects Saga 1-6.

Monstress Volume 1: Awakening – Marjorie Liu

Illustrations – Sana Takeda

I don’t know how to explain what I just read. I’d probably need at least two rereads to get it all straight in my head. There’s just so much going on and new characters are flung into the mix with little to no introduction, and most of the time I had no idea how anyone was connected with anyone else. However, I still need to read the next volume.

This volume combines the first six issues of this series and the artwork is exceptional! We begin at an auction, where Maika, a 17 year old arcanic girl with the mark of an eclipsing eye on her chest, is Lot 819. She’s there voluntarily because she wants something.

In this warring world, there are cats that talk, humans, ancients, arcanic halfbreeds and the old gods. The ancients are immortal and have magic; there’s a dusk court and a dawn court. The arcanics are half human and half ancients. The old gods’ “shadows haunt this world”; they are “horrors”.

Maika is an interesting character but it was Kippa, the little fox child, who stole my heart. She’s loyal and such an adorable sweetheart!

I borrowed this volume from my library in preparation for my planned 2019 Hugo Awards Finalists Readathon. Volume 3 has been nominated in the Best Graphic Story category. Had I not been reading with a purpose in mind I probably would have given up before the end of the second issue. The themes are dark, with war and children being trafficked, tortured and killed, and it’s not the kind of graphic novel I usually read (I’ve just finished a Phoebe and Her Unicorn-athon, for goodness’ sake).

I’m glad I kept reading though, because the story did start to come together for me. I’m left with countless questions but I’m intrigued and that’s enough at the moment for me to want to continue. I’m expecting my brain will catch up and connect more of the dots as I keep reading. I’m almost positive a reread will result in a more impassioned review.

Whether the story is your cup of tea or not, the artwork is definitely awe inspiring.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Reread 13 August 2019

Wow! I understand what all of the hullabaloo surrounding Monstress is about now! While I barely knew what was going on during my first read it all came together for me within minutes of starting my reread. I’m so excited to have (belatedly) fallen in love with this series!

I loved my reread so much I kept reading until I’d finished the Volume, after 2:30am. While I have many, many more thoughts, here are a few.

I tend to shy away from stories that include war and I think that may have contributed to my hesitation when I originally began Maika’s story. Between my first and second times through this Volume I binged nine Volumes of Saga, which proved I could fall head over heels with a series that includes war. This time around I went into Monstress with more of an open mind and the super helpful THE STORY SO FAR … summaries at the beginning of each issue from the second one. These summaries don’t exist in the paperback Volume I borrowed from my library and could have made all the difference in stopping my head from spinning around during my first run through if I’d known of their existence.

It was also at the end of the first issue that I found the most incredible quote from Marjorie Liu about this series and my love for it solidified my need to continue and unearth my Monstress obsession.

“And the root of my desire, I finally realized, was to tell a story about what it means to be a survivor. A survivor, not just of a cataclysmic war, but of racial conflict and its antecedent: hatred. And to confront the question: how does one whom history has made a monster, escape her monstrosity? How does one overcome the monstrousness of others without succumbing to a rising monstrousness within?”

I haven’t been reading graphic novels for very long and until this one I’d never encountered one with such complexity, with so many characters and questions that linger in your mind for several issues (or Volumes). Again I have Saga to thank for making me realise what I’d been missing out on.

Throughout the course of this Volume Maika seeks answers relating to the murder of her mother and the hunger within her which has recently awoken. She meets sweetheart Kippa, an Arcanic fox girl she saves from slavery, and Ren, a nekomancer cat. Kippa is loyal and she trusts Maika, although she is rightfully scared of the hunger inside Maika. Ren’s loyalties are not as clear.

While she was in the stronghold of Cumaea, Maika found a photograph

and a piece of an ancient mask, both of which she hopes will help her find out more about her mother’s murder. Maika is now on the run, doing everything she can to ensure her hunger doesn’t result in her eating adorable Kippa,

while trying to avoid the different factions who are all hunting her.

I got so much more out of this Volume this time around and launched straight into Volume 2. I appreciate the intricacies of the storyline now. What hasn’t changed between reads is my love for the jaw dropping illustrations. I could cheat and tell you that every illustration was my favourite but for this read I narrowed it down to these three. I expect I’ll have different favourites each time I open the pages though.

If, like me, your first Monstress attempt had you scratching your head, I would encourage you to give it another try. Trust me, it’s worth it! If you already understand the hunger for more Monstress, I know what you’ve all been talking about now! I may be late to the party but at least I’ve finally arrived.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Once Upon a Blurb

Set in an alternate matriarchal 1900’s Asia, in a richly imagined world of art deco-inflected steam punk, Monstress tells the story of a teenage girl who is struggling to survive the trauma of war, and who shares a mysterious psychic link with a monster of tremendous power, a connection that will transform them both and make them the target of both human and otherworldly powers.

Collects Monstress #1-6.

Skyward Volume 2: Here There Be Dragonflies – Joe Henderson

Illustrations – Lee Garbett

Colours – Antonio Fabela

Willa and Edison have left Chicago and are on a train to Kansas City. Barrow is determined to stop Willa, no matter what, so he stops all the trains. Stuck in the middle of a forest isn’t as safe as it used to be. Since G-Day the bugs have supersized and Willa narrowly escapes being a dragonfly’s dinner when a badass warrior farmer with a sword, Lucas Serrano, saves her. Riding a butterfly, no less.

“So now we’re trapped in the middle of nowhere with a bunch of farmers turned crazy survivalists. What could go wrong?”

There’s so much going on in this volume. Giant bugs are now above us on the food chain! There are explosions! You don’t know who you can trust because it seems like practically everyone has a secret and/or ulterior motive.

It’s so much fun!

I really enjoyed the first volume. It ended with a cliffhanger and here I am again, sitting on the edge of a cliff. Now I have to wait until August to see how this all plays out in Skyward Volume 3: Fix the World.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Once Upon a Blurb

Now a fugitive, Willa leaves Chicago and goes on the run! But when she takes refuge with some low-G farmers, she stumbles into a plot to attack the city. Oh, and on top of all that: giant, man-eating bugs! Maybe we should have led with that.

Skyward Volume 2 collects issues 6-10.

Skyward Volume 1: My Low-G Life – Joe Henderson

Illustrations – Lee Garbett

Colours – Antonio Fabela

I’ve been looking forward to this one for a while, mostly because of that gorgeous cover and the flying. Who doesn’t wish they could fly?!

Willa was just a baby on G-Day when most of Earth’s gravity disappeared, her mother floated away and her father confined himself to their apartment. Twenty years later Willa wants to see the world but is stuck working and paying the bills while her father hides inside.

Not only did Willa’s father somehow predict G-Day, he also claims to know how to fix it but evil Mr Barrow will do whatever it takes to stop him. After all, Mr Barrow has profited from G-Day and is currently living the high life (low life?) on street level courtesy of the gravity boots he invented.

I loved the illustrations and colours used in this volume and especially enjoyed finding out what a rainstorm looks like in this low gravity world.

I have a lot of questions about how this new world works and hope to find out more when Willa reads her dad’s journal, maybe in the next volume because – cliffhanger! Grr!

There’s violence in this series, with floating blood droplets (and also some gag inducing floating beads of sweat), so it felt like it was more suitable for a young adult audience. I wish there was more depth to the characters, particularly the boring and clichéd baddie, but I’m interested to see what happens next.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Once Upon a Blurb

One day, gravity on Earth suddenly became a fraction of what it is now. Twenty years later, humanity has adapted to its new low-gravity reality. And to Willa Fowler, a woman born just after G-day, it’s … well, it’s pretty awesome, actually. You can fly through the air! I mean, sure, you can also die if you jump too high. So you just don’t jump too high. And maybe don’t get mixed up in your Dad’s secret plan to bring gravity back that could get you killed …