Page 45 Review by Stephen
Of the very first chapter, I wrote:
Irreverent High Fantasy melded with funny Low Filth, this unsurprisingly appealed enormously to Brian K. Vaughan who gleefully ran a preview in the latest issue of SAGA, although emphatically not the pages which require us to bag every copy so that no eyes younger than sixteen years old stray unexpectedly across the transformational excess of a Personal Legend elixir.
There's at least one moment like that in every collection of SAGA, reminding you - however lovely Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples are - why you thought better of lending the series to your mother, your grand-mother or your youngest nephew or godson.
With detailed blood, guts, gore that will score highly with any Geoff Darrow fan (see SHAOLIN COWBOY: START TREK SHAOLIN COWBOY: SHEMP BUFFET, SHAOLIN COWBOY: WHO'LL STOP THE REIGN and HARDBOILED), we open with a splendid, skull-crushing, infernal massacre as the wizard Mardok and his minions stage a surprise assault on the reigning Maestro, eviscerating him, his oh so many wives, and the entire royal family to boot - those who are still residing within the Realms, anyway.
One of his wives, Margaret, divorced the now former Maestro on the grounds of gross depravity and was consigned to a comfy cage for her troubles, but at least she secured the exile of her son. This saved both their souls, but now they are the only members of the royal line left alive so Margaret is dispatched by a walking, talking, bipedal sunflower to rescue full-grown Willy from his own low-grade, magical, ill-gotten gains before Mardok and his minions (do not forget them!) catch up with him in a strip joint.
Before you can holler "Too late!" we are treated to an extreme late-night viewing of The Little Shop Of Horrors and a page which I do wish I had for you involving the interior view of a floral gullet which would make a man-eating shark look all gummy and toothless.
Later, we learn about the origins of our planet, as a smaller Willy first discovers that Earth's creator was in fact his great grand-father...
"We watched your people crawl out of the mud without the help of any magic or gods except what your imagination created. Your will and ingenuity amazed me."
... And we are presented with a glorious panel of our gradual and deeply impressive evolution, rising up from hunched-over ape to homo erectus thence homo sapiens, to comic-carrying, fizzy-pop-guzzling, puppy-fatted, mid-teen Willy.
After the more earthly exploits, the vast majority of this collection follows Willy's accession to his father's throne and all the internal - and external - politics / skulduggery that comes with it. Expect extreme and unusual forms of torture, both physical and mental.