Graphic Novels, Tough Chicks: Vol. 5

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Graphic Novels, Tough Chicks celebrates the amazing female characters that abound in graphic novels. While many people still associate this particular form with a male readership, certain graphic novels empower women and combat feminine stereotypes through illustration and text. Tough chicks resist injustice, fight for their beliefs, and they don’t take flak from nobody. These women are capable of fighting their own battles, both literally and figuratively.

This week I revisit the wonderful world of Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples with Saga Vol. 2 and the introduction of yet another tough chick!

Saga Vol 2 CoverTitle: Saga Vol. 2

Author & Illustrator: Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples

Publisher: Image Comics on July 2, 2013

Source: Library

From award-winning writer Brian K Vaughan and critically acclaimed artist Fiona Staples, Saga is the sweeping tale of one young family fighting to find their place in the universe. Thanks to her star-crossed parents Marko and Alana, newborn baby Hazel has already survived lethal assassins, rampaging armies, and horrific monsters, but in the cold vastness of outer space, the little girl encounters her strangest adventure yet… grandparents.

In SAGA VOL. 2 we have not one, not two, but three tough chicks kicking booty and making no apologies for it. Hallelujah!

I’ve featured Saga in a Graphic Novels, Tough Chicks post before: I discussed Alana, the soldier turned conscientious objector who fell in love with her enemy and had the audacity to have a child with him. As easy as it would be for me to write a hundred more posts on her, for the sake of keeping things interesting in this edition I’ll be discussing equally tough chicks, Gwendolyn and Izabel.

For your viewing pleasure, I present Gwendolyn. Take a moment to appreciate her awesomeness. The fierce look in her eyes. Her simple yet effective staff. Her amazing ‘fro.

Saga Vol 2 Excerpt 3
Image: Fiona Staples & Brian K. Vaughan

Girl, you do you! Clearly people are not exaggerating when they say that Marko is a ladies man because both Alan and Gwendolyn are friggin’ gorgeous. But who who is Gwendolyn, really? A powerful woman on Wreath, Gwendolyn was able to dodge military service by choosing instead to work in politics. She also happens to be  that Gwendolyn, Marko’s jilted fiancee mentioned in Vol. 1. And believe me when I say that outer space hath no fury like a woman scorned.

While Gwendolyn has an adversarial role in Saga Vol. 2, I suspect that she’ll become a fully-realized member of the cast in no time. There is no way on this Earth (or on Wreath or Landfall) that Brian K Vaughan and Fiona Staples would waste her awesomeness on a one-note villain. Hell no. She’s already got the makings of an important player in the story, as she teams up with freelance mercenary The Will to find Marko and Alana ostensibly to punish them for their crimes but really to punish Marko for his poor treatment of her.

 

It’s no wonder that she was successful in politics because Gwendolyn is clearly quite cunning: knowing that The Will won’t be able to rescue a girl sold into sex slavery through violence, Gwendolyn employs the most holy of back room techniques, extortion. She’s what one of my English profs would call a Hot Bitch in Charge. As much as I love that phrase (especially when a 60 year old woman is saying it!!!) I think I’ll stick with Tough Chick for now!

Saga Vol 2 Excerpt 4

Another Tough Chick in the Saga series is Izabel, who is Gwendolyn’s opposite in many ways. For one thing, she’s a teenager  – the only teenager in all of the Saga series thus far. She’s also one of the only women Saga Vol. 2  who isn’t sexualized. With her t-shirt, beanie, and copious hipster jewellery, Iz looks like any other teenage babysitter. As long as you can overlook her exposed entrails. When a character is the only one of something – the only woman, the only POC, the only teenager – it’s usually pretty significant. I’m not sure exactly what the significance of Izabel’s unique characteristics will be yet, but I’m sure they’ll come into play in future volumes.

In a storyline that deals with racial prejudice, systemic violence, and sexual exploitation, you need someone like Izabel to lighten things up. Comedic relief is often overlooked as being the duty of a lower secondary or tertiary character, but Izabel plays an integral role in the escape of our erstwhile family and in watching over Hazel. Of course, you can see in the above illustration that she doesn’t do it without comment!

If you’re not already reading the Saga series, then you should be. Yes, there’s quite a bit of cursing, violence, and sexual images…but what media doesn’t have those things these days? At least they’re not gratuitous in Saga. Except for maybe the giant troll balls.

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  • Lisa (@TenaciousReader)

    Heh, don’t forget the Mom that showed up at the very end! This series it a ton of fun, and you’re right, there’s plenty of tough chicks! I suspect Hazel will grow up to be one as well

    • Yes!!! She’s awesome too. What a complete battle axe, eh? I can’t wait to see where Hazel ends up!

  • Fantastic graphic novel (and Lisa @ TenaciousReader knows I still have to read Vol. 3!) and speaking of tough and awesome chicks, Fiona Staples is so amazingly talented, I love her work for Saga.

    ~Mogsy @ BiblioSanctum

    • Fiona Staples is my hero, seriously. She’s so creative and talented and committed to diversity. DIVERSITY, people!! It’s important. Can’t wait to see what she comes up with next (even though I felt totally betrayed by the full page shot of giant balls).

  • I FUCKING LOVE SAGA!!! Girl you got some great taste.

    • THANK YOU!! Like 80% of what I read is based on other people’s recommendations so I like to think that the SFF blogging community has great taste. 😉 Saga is my favourite graphic novel series, bar none. SAGA FOREVER!