When I was a teenager I picked up a copy of Robert A. Heinlein's The Cat Who Walks Through Walls. I honestly couldn't relate much of the book to you now, but I remember tearing through it with utter fascination. Only years later did I realize the book was one part of a larger whole. Of a story exploring time travel, multiple universes and a reoccurring character named Lazarus Long who was centuries old. It was a scatterbrained (and sometimes depraved) sci-fi adventure.
A couple years later I found myself digging into Bruce Sterling's Schismatrix, a blend of space opera and cyberpunk that presented a universe staggering in scope and complexity. I'm not sure I ever really understood it, or even grasped half of what was happening. It was an overwhelming read, but I still loved every minute of it.
The new comic series Saga, by Brian K. Vaughn (Y: The Last Man, Runaways) has some of the same trappings as these two books which cemented themselves so heavily in my mind.
Some of the stranger highlights include: Napoleonic aliens with TVs for heads, a ghostly teenage babysitter (missing her bottom half), a half-spider, half-woman bounty hunter, magic (in a science fiction universe!), and, of course, a brothel planet named Sextillion where the women are just faces and legs. It's a complete hot mess of sci-fi, fantasy and comic book trappings. It's funny. It's weird. It's inexplicable. And I love it.
And what makes Saga the best kind of sci-fi is how it doesn't make excuses for itself. There is no lengthy exposition, no need to explain every detail or event, no need to catalog or justify it's own universe. Aliens, creatures and magic just waltz through the panels with a certain nonchalance, as if we'd been living there all along.
Honestly, it's been a long times since I've been this interested in a comic. My bookshelves are adorned with graphic novel classics like The Sandman , Watchmen and in recent years, Fables, but this is the first time in a long time I've looked forward to a monthly issue release. As weird as it is, Saga is a refreshing departure from the usual tableau of reboots, multiverse spinoffs, steampunk and zombies.
The first five issues from Image Comics are currently available in stores, or from Comixology.