Paper Girls #22
Writer: Brian K. Vaughan
Artists: Cliff Chiang and Matthew Wilson
After reading volume four of Paper Girls I thought to myself “there’s no way Vaughn can come up with something as cool as phased-out giant robots fighting during Y2K oh my God!” While I still do believe that, volume five is shaping to be as crazy as its predecessor.
So, last issue saw the Gang (and Old Tiff) trying to figure out exactly when in time they arrived and how to get back to their own time. Mac suggested that they visit the library and off they went. There they encountered an all-knowing tree and Mac’s first question was if there was a cure for leukaemia. You see, we learned way back in volume two that Mac doesn’t get a long life because she dies of leukaemia. The Tree tells the girls that leukaemia does not exist anymore in that time as it has been cured. Each of the previous volumes had one of the girls take the role of the “main” protagonist (with the exception of Erin who had the first two volumes) and this one is focusing on Mac so, naturally, Vaughn is addressing that plot point.This issue start with Jahpo being informed that the time-meddling kids have been spotted and decides to confront them. It is still early to predict if he knows that they are the ones that saved his and Wuri’s life, but we will probably find out really soon. The focus then shifts to the girls who learn from the tree that Jahpo is in fact the leader of WATCH – the organisation in charge of space and/or time travel. After a brief confrontation with the Future Librarian, they decide that they must split up if they are to solve both problems. Erin and the Tiffanies decide to track down Jahpo, while Mac and Kaje go after the cancer cure.
Cliff Chiang’s art is great, as usual, especially combined with Matt Wilson’s colouring – it manages to perfectly encapsulate the 80’s vibe. And make no mistake, even though we left the eighties all the way in volume one, this is still a really eighties story. They are using walkie talkies for God’s sake! Even the future screams “THE 80s” as it’s reminiscent of all the cyberpunk stories from that decade. But I digress. While Chiang’s art might seem simplistic compared to Staples’ work on Vaughn’s other book, Saga, it is a great fit for this book and still leaves room for some really out-there designs, a great example being the Future Librarian. The only gripe with the book that I have (and have had since the beginning, actually) is the lettering. The lower case letters feel really off – I constantly feel like I’m looking at an online edit of the pages.
Vaughn’s work on Paper Girls and Saga is a testament to the benefits of creative freedom. Both of these books are pure sci-fi extravaganza with tons of crazy concepts that in theory should not work, but the strong writing and characters, and the lack of editor-meddling, result in hugely entertaining pieces of art. These are books that I would easily recommend to people who do not read comics as they are easy to read and, under all that sci-fi glitz and glamour, tell honest stories about relatable characters with recognisable problems.
Paper Girls #22
These are books that, under all that sci-fi glitz and glamour, tell honest stories about relatable characters with recognizable problems.