just finished saga, volume two. it’s kind of stupid how good this is. also kind of stupid how long i’ll have to wait for volume three.

the basic idea of saga is romeo and juliet meets star wars. except the star wars part is waaaaaaay better than star wars.

in saga, we follow the story of alana and marko, two young lovers from opposite sides of a longstanding interstellar war. both sides are hunting them, and their newborn baby. oh yeah, and the newborn baby, hazel, narrates the story from some unspecified point in the future.

that’s just the basic premise, though. the actual book is so much more, thanks to two creators at the top of their game.

let me start with the reason i put saga on my pull list as soon as i learned it was in the works: brian k. vaughan, probably my favorite comics writer ever. for anyone who’s read any of BKV’s stuff, he’s in top form here. first and foremost are the characters. from hazel and her family to their spectral babysitter izabel to the bounty hunters trying to find them to everyone else they meet, BKV is still able to create characters that are instantly three-dimensional and engrossing, people you want to follow around for as long as they’ll have you.

around these characters, BKV is able to build an incredibly interesting, intricate, vast world that never feels confusing or overwhelming. two trades (twelve singles) in and we already have magical horned people, the winged race they’re at war with, humanoid robot royalty with televisions for heads, ghost children of an indigenous race wiped out in an interstellar war looking for a new theater, eight-eyed spider/human assassins, giant cats that know when someone is lying (and call them out), murderous three-eyed giants with infected testicles that hang low to the ground, interstellar superpredators that hatch from planet-sized eggs…and i’m sure much more that i’m not recalling right now. this world has a unifying history that BKV has clearly thought out but restrains himself from revealing in bigger chunks or at a faster pace than required in telling his characters’ stories. most of all, the world is surprising and fun, a place where we don’t know what to expect. i can’t wait to see what else this batshit crazy world has in store for us.

then there’s the story, which is as well-paced as you’ll find in funny books. as ever, BKV is able to craft each chapter so that it is satisfying by itself yet part of a larger story that keeps you coming back issue after issue. the heart of that story is marko and alana, characters you start rooting for as soon as you meet them. as fresh as saga feels, the familiarity of this core narrative—star-crossed lovers try to make a go of it in a world dead-set against their love—also give it a timeless quality.

vaughan’s collaborator, fiona staples, is absolutely killing it. i’m pretty sure this is the first stuff of hers i’ve read, and i’m really impressed. her storytelling is clear without feeling at all by-the-numbers. her characters have emotional depth. you never find anything—whether a bizarre species, new technologies, landscapes, or whatever—that looks beyond her range. and the coloring is exactly right—lively but never garish, and always setting the right mood for the scene.

i could go on and on, but at some point i’d get into spoiler territory, which i don’t want to do. i don’t want to ruin anything for you as you read saga. which you definitely should do.

i can’t recommend it highly enough.