July 30th, 2012

The ‘S’ you may have seen is silent, actually, so we’re just going to call it by its True Name, Aga.

Welcome to the Star Wars comic where every character is Jar Jar Binks.

Open with a joke: There’s this bit in Aga #1 where these two elegant young upwardly starcrossed but slightly hungover sorts are chatting and having a coffee.

Am I shitting?
It feels like I’m shitting.
Just keep pushing.
We’re so close.
Seriously, you’ll never have sex with me if I defecate all over you.
Unless you’re secretly into that.
Please don’t be into that.
You have never been as beautiful as you are right now.


Sorry: Baby, not coffee. Got confused because it sounded for a second like they were having a coffee.

Space: A bit like medieval  conceptions of heaven and hell. Alien species from vastly different planets to yours are perfectly conceivable to the Milton fans of four-hundred years ago: devil-ish or angel-ish. Any physical differences between them and homo sapiens sapiens is purely reducible at the level of appearance to haircuts (e.g. horns) or party frocks (wings).  The environments they live in, where any effort has been put into the scenery at all, is all cosily Earthian, two-handed creatures in solid buildings. No exploration of the alien is attempted.

Aside: Although how a narrative could desire this is unclear, Aga is a stronghold for one particularly uninspiring fact: Aliens are like you. The Cosmic Outsider is not Unknown, he is just like (a handsomer) you.

Warning: Do not allow any previously held notions to be disturbed by these aliens, they just aren’t interesting enough. Their world is just like yours. You have not escaped. The unbounded potential of the sentient imagination will tell you things you already knew.

Recall: Aren’t we all so over this? We were all totally over it back in ought-five, dammit. No-one back then wanted to talk about any of it. No-one cared that the two characters from the original trilogy who never speak English and never get subtitles were actually in on the plot the whole time; that enlightenment meant recognising the universal elan vital as an impersonal Darwinian process (probably bacteriological in nature) that seeks only to establish only a kind of moral homeostasis; that the noble warrior monks were so aggrieved by their defeat twenty years ago that they were happy to allow a dutiful farming family to be massacred in order to free-up their vengeance weapon’s diary.

Remember: We were all far too cool and grown up, far too sophisticated a bunch of consumers to give a fuck about any of that. Apparently tedious shit like that is today’s hot new thing.

Except: all this is so unfair because Aga is original and different isn’t it? Very different. As different as it gets sometimes. Because the robots are masters and not slaves, so that’s very different isn’t it? That’s actually 100% different, in the polar diametric way that only things that are exactly the same can be.  And the pirate’s best pal, that’s different because it’s catty, and walks on all fours, both of which are mega-different from ‘doggy’ and ‘walks upright’. This is what the sages of the ages mean by the word ‘originality’, dickspit.

Full disclosure: Certain clichés are fine in balanced doses, but today sanity would make anyone an unapologetic apologist for a policy of total genocide against all species of talking cat, starting with the Aga one, the one currently in Animal Man, and all the millions of Neil Gaiman ones. What would any cat possibly have to say, in its predictably haughty, slightly aristocratic mien, in any event?

Cat Quote: ‘You’re a cunt. Feed me.’

Full disclosure: Ditto for anything that’s got a telly for a head. Unless it’s Evil Edna.

Recommendation: If you’re really desperate for some hipsters-in-space thing, then all your ‘what would life be like if you were 20 years old, from Brooklyn (non-native, like, obvs) and lived inside a disco-prog album cover?’ queries will be much better answered by CF’s POWR MASTRS.

Recommendation:  If your Action Penis is only going to get the executive relief it longs for by reading comics about things fighting things in space, and for that space to be strange and ungrounding instead of familiar and reassuring, it shall be far harder milked by Brandon Graham et al.’s tidy Prophet.

Solution: The best chalk to sprinkle on all this bile is of course to point out to the unwilling ZNZ hostage that he is a man in his mid-thirties, and that Aga, in order even to squirm into being, has to have its vectors ready, has to anticipate, triangulate, and if necessary self-mutilate to slip shittily into the pre-existing environmental niche its gamble for prosperity needs. Aga is for Young Adults (ones hopefully in the crosshairs of certain teen-fanchise market models who haven’t seen, read or even been in the same room as any other space opera thing ever). Your current reviewer, as has been so cruelly, is not a Young Adult but a man in his mid-thirties. Therefore, villain, what the hell are you doing reading this comic anyway?

The answer, so pathetic:

…i don’t know…


27 Responses to “THE NEGATIVE ZONE: Saga #1”

  1. Sean T. Collins Says:

    Yeah, I thought this was pretty bad, too, so very very very very writerly, hitting marks established by other people. I was stunned to see folks who publicly hate things publicly like this.

  2. Papers Says:

    It just looked as dull as paste, to be honest, and at least paste will stick to my head if I attempt to get rid of it.

  3. taterpie Says:

    Any thoughts on the art?

  4. Adam Says:

    There’s a guy with ram’s horns.

    That is all.

  5. tam Says:

    I’ve avoided Saga despite the lovely art because I knew it would irritate me. There’s a generation of comics book writers who’s only influences seem to be other specific comics book writers and tv shows. So Jason Aaron’s work often, (though, to be fair, not always) reads like Garth Ennis fanfic, whereas Ennis stays interesting because he gets his ideas from history and war books and westerns which I haven’t read.
    Similarly Bryan K Vaugn’s stuff usually reads like a mishmash of Paul Chadwick’s stuff, (which I love, and again reading Chadwick’s essays you know he’s interested in far more things in life than other comic books) and the guy who did The West Wing which was the more irritating tv show I’ve ever seen so I decided to avoid it

  6. Tim O'Neil Says:

    Yeah, I was amazed to see this book get as much love as it did. But then, it seemed par for the course for Vaughan, who has yet to meet a high concept he couldn’t turn into thin grey gruel.

  7. J_Smitty_ Says:

    (Wanders in…sees a pie hit the guy in front of him…backs slowly through the door he came in.)

  8. Kieron Gillen Says:

    Pah, no-one’s arguing against Bobsy! Let’s give it a shot.

    In the spirit of a negative-zone, I could totally spin something like…

    “Although how a narrative could desire this is unclear, Aga is a stronghold for one particularly uninspiring fact: Aliens are like you.”

    Into a Bobsy-as-a-Daily-Mail-columnist piece (ALIENS ARE NOT LIKE ME! THEY’RE FOREIGN AND EAT FUNNY FOOD). Or at least spin the the otherising even imaginary others as some kind of Orientalism of the fantastic, and dodgy on that level.

    I think that’d be missing the point – in the same way rolling eyes at the egalitarian of Saga’s liberal-tradition fantasy does. Of course it’s about us. It’s about us.

    (Saga is clearly less Sci-fi and more heroic Fantasy, and as such, Saga’s approach is my preferred one to the KILL THE ORCS! ORCS ARE GENETICALLY EVIL! one.)

    I’m actually increasingly thinking Saga is BKV’s best work.

  9. Sean T. Collins Says:

    Kieron, I think Bobsy’s complaint is better understood as a complaint that the book is bringing nothing new to the table, paired with a potential solution — convincingly alien aliens. But that’s just A solution, not a demand. The demand is for a more interesting comic.

  10. Thrills Says:

    I still think my favourite of Brian K. Vaughan’s comics is his ‘Chamber’ X-Men miniseries from years ago, but then I’m in love with Chamber and his self-pitying exploding face, and get all gushy when he appears and is written well.

    I read the first issue of Saga, but it pure didnae do anything for me, really. It was pleasant enough, but it’s just not what I want just now (I think I maybe want batshit splurky late 80s/early 90s grime?). And as mentioned, sassy talking cats are a total put-off.

    I’ll probably still give it a read when it shows up in the local library, but.

    I’m killing comics.

  11. bobsy Says:

    It wouldn’t just be missing the point, it would also be MASSIVELY FUCKING OFFENSIVE to try to imply that I’m some Daily Mail racist because I didn’t like this shitty, timid comic.

    Why don’t you fuck off, apologise, and then fuck off again?

  12. Adam Says:

    Bobsy got eggy

  13. bobsy Says:


  14. Kieron Gillen Says:

    Bobsy: Sorry for any offence caused.

  15. bobsy Says:

    Yeah OK. You don’t have to do the ‘and then fuck off again’ bit if you don’t want to.

  16. Kieron Gillen Says:

    I did fuck off again to go to sleep, so that’s okay.

  17. Adam Says:

    You need to be careful out here, in the Negative Zone

  18. Carnival of souls: Fluxblog 2008, Gabrielle Bell, Eleanor Davis, Grant Morrison, The Hobbit, more « Attentiondeficitdisorderly by Sean T. Collins Says:

    [...] The Mindless Ones’ Bobsy gives the business to Saga by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples, a comic I did not like at [...]

  19. tetsu Says:

    To me the comic is way too hipsterish.

    The first issue is just uninspiring and felt more like a first draft of something better. While the art is pretty (particularly the cover), it’s bland and lifeless. Not a bad comic per se, just not as good as the whole interwebs thinks.

  20. rob Says:

    ThANK GOD I really thought everyone liked this. IT is in space. They do say “FUCK” and it’s got young parents you hope are not going to sit by you on a bus. So it’s genius!

  21. Zur En Arrh Says:

    Nope. Disagree. Saga is a great comic. They are not Aliens or robots because this is not science fiction. It’s fantasy! Despite being in space!

  22. bobsy Says:

    Well you’re clearly someone with a valuable opinion

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