Of Musings and Wonderings











{February 20, 2014}   Saga, Volume One [Graphic Novels]

saga“Am I shitting? It feels like I’m shitting.”

Authors spend ages thinking over the perfect opening lines, the perfect way to grab a reader and plunge them into a story. Saga does that brilliantly, with the first piece of dialogue (above) and the narration on the first page of the novel (This is how an idea becomes real). And, as we all know, the first thing a reader reads (and sees, in the case of graphic novels) is crucial.

Saga tells the story of Marko and Alana, soldiers from opposite sides, fighting in a never-ending war. Their attempts to escape the war backfire when they are tracked down, and they must run to save themselves, their love, and the life of their new-born child, the narrator of the story.

saga2As with Hit-Girl, the art in Saga is beautiful. Unlike Hit-Girl, the art here needs to do a lot more. Rather than just tell the story of the characters, the art also has to create whole new worlds, has to make us fully believe in the strange terrains and landscapes these characters travel across. And the appearance of the characters themselves has to say a lot, with the two main characters having more than just different home planets and lives separating them. They are also separated by their very appearance, Marko with his horns and Alana with her wings. But these aren’t the only two species inhabiting the worlds of the graphic novel. We also see human-like characters with TVs for heads, monkey-like men, and drifting lost souls. It’s clear that a hell of a lot of work has gone into the world building of this, and it pays off nicely.

As for the main characters, well, Marko and Alana are very human. They’re relatable, they bounce off each other and at times, have you wondering why the hell they’re together. There are moments when it’s clear to see the love they have for each other, and moments when they butt heads so spectacularly that it makes you question how they ended up together. But…it makes the relationship itself feel more real. After all, don’t we all know a couple that seem to click and compliment each other brilliantly one day, and the next just seem to act like children about something? But they’re the kind of couple that doesn’t take it too far, and are there to support the other one when it’s needed.

Marko and Alana are a lot like that, and little things about their relationship become more clear as we find out how, exactly, they met.

saga-no-killingAs well as the two main characters, there’s a whole host of supporting characters that are, basically, very strong. We get almost behind the scenes glimpses at those who had hired to track down the two runaways, and although at first the bounty hunters come across as right dick heads, but like Alana and Marko we’re treated to further glimpses into their pasts, and see more human-like, decent sides to them. There are characters that make you want to slap them, and there are characters that make you want to slap them then hug them then wish everything would just turn out all right for everyone, damn it.

Saga, the story of a love forged during a never-ending war, is a brilliant read. It really tugs you into the world, makes you feel for the characters involved – no matter what side they’re on – and leaves you, as all good novels, graphic novels, etc, should, wanting a hell of a lot more. Definitely worth checking out.

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{February 16, 2014}   Hit Girl [Graphic Novel]

hit girlI haven’t seen Kick Ass 2 yet, though I desperately want to. But I have read both the Kick Ass graphic novels, and I have to admit, I was over the moon when I unwrapped my present from my brother at Christmas and found Hit-Girl. I read it the same day, but its just taken me this long to realise I didn’t actually write a post for it. (Silly me)

Hit-Girl acts as a bridge between Kick Ass and Kick Ass 2. It’s the story of Mindy, trying to cope with fitting in at middle school, trying to be normal while also sneaking out and training Kick Ass to be her sidekick in the night. While doing all this, Mindy also has to avoid the local police, including her step-father.

This isn’t just a story full of heroes beating people up and working for the greater good. Sure, there are those moments – of course there are – but there’s a lot more to Hit-Girl, and at the heart of it, there’s a lot more emotion, too, something I felt more strongly with Kick Ass 2 than the first one. The storytelling in these seems to be getting better and better, packing more of an emotional punch along with all the fun stuff.

imagesCA7P311WYes, there are some downright gruesome moments in the book. But we also get to see the real struggles of these characters, especially Mindy. It’s easy to forget, seeing her take down gangsters and mob bosses, and even going on a killing spree on death row, that she is, essentially, a kid in middle school. More importantly, a girl in middle school, who has to try to, for the first time, navigate the corridors of school politics, keep her grades up, and keep her parents happy.

And in Hit-Girl, it becomes apparent that it’s not the bad guys who are the only problem Mindy has to face. There are also the stuck up bitches who seem intent to put her down and single her out from her first moment through the door. And although she knows how awesome she is outside of school, she still wants to fit in. Mindy, essentially, wants what any girl her age her wants. Along with the guns and knives, she wants acceptance and normality, even if she only wants them as a front to present to her parents.

Kick-Ass does offer his advice on how she can fit in, but these all backfire, until Mindy uses her own skills to become OMG BFFS with the queen bee. And, honestly? As brutal as it is, it’s brilliant to see her gain the upper hand. After all, throughout the novel, she’s the one that we, as readers, root for, in all aspects.

There are parts of it that also show Red Mist, and we see him go from the spoilt brat in Kick-Ass to the villain we see in Kick-Ass 2, as well as getting glimpses of just how much of a dick he is, how naïve he can be at times, and the way his mind is clouded, completely, with getting revenge for his father’s death. Although he is a little whiny bitch, it’s good to really see him evolve, and see his own journey between the two, while Mindy and Kick-Ass make theirs.

Hit-girl1

I don’t read a hell of a lot of graphic novels and comics – it’s unfortunately something I can’t really afford – but I do admire the work, the storytelling and the art that goes into them. Hit-Girl is no exception to that. There are images that will have you staring at the page for ages, just trying to capture everything in the panel, and there are moments where, like in any good novel, you just have to sit back and marvel at what happened.

Hit-Girl now sits on my shelf beside Kick-Ass and Kick-Ass 2, and it feels like it really does belong there. A brilliant graphic novel, enjoyable, easy to read, and like I said before, packs a punch in every way.

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et cetera