All it takes is a quick perusal of this blog to know that I want more diversity in the relationships that play out in our books and on our screens. I want queer relationships, ace relationships, poly relationships, strong and long-lasting friendships, family relationships, and all the different and wonderful permutations in between.
I want more than just your typical boy-meets-girl love story, both because there’s so much more out there, and because, honestly, heterosexual romantic relationships are kind of old hat by now. I know a love story is supposed to be eternal, but at some point, haven’t we explored all the nuances and subtleties of this particular kind of interaction? What’s left to talk about?
But here’s the thing: We actually do need to see more romantic, hetero love stories, because whenever I see one that’s totally equitable, I’m still surprised. We need love where the woman is an active participant, where the man isn’t automatically the decision-maker, where both partners have personalities outside of their relationship, and tired, gendered stereotypes aren’t played out ad nauseum. And that’s where Saga comes in.
The story, by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples for Image Comics, is as strange as it is delightful. To wit: There are outsourced wars, ghost babysitters, television sex scenes (that’s sex between televisions), a wooden spaceship, an infant narrator, and Lying Cat, my new favourite sidekick. But what really sets it apart is the relationship between protagonists Alana and Marko.
Their relationship is one of complete equals. She’s the one who broke him out of jail. He’s the pacifist. They’re both ex-military on the run from their home worlds, trying to start a family. They’re both incredibly capable, and bring tangible assets to the relationship. A relationship that, let’s be honest, needs all the help it can get.
Normally I wouldn’t spend time championing a relationship that fits so nicely into the conservative, domestic idea of wedding-and-a-baby, not because there’s anything inherently wrong with it, but because there are more than enough people placing tremendous value on those particular milestones already. But when I try to think of straight couples who are evenly matched in terms of their usefulness to the story, the list is awfully short (in fact, off the top of my head, it’s basically just Zoe and Wash). We need more power couples challenging our preconceived ideas about heterosexual relationships. We need more Alanas and Markos.