Review – Paper Girls #4
Paper Girls #4
Writer: Brian K. Vaughn
Artist: Cliff Chiang
Cover: Cliff Chiang
This book just gets weirder and weirder, and I am loving it. You’ve got your futuristic warriors riding dinosaurs, aliens who turned out to be time traveling teenagers, 1980s video games, and a group of kids just trying to survive in a world that seems like its ending. Paper Girls #4 is the issue that has a surprise literally waiting behind every corner.
The first page of this book is already an interesting one. An old man with a Public Enemy shirts wakes up to his phone ringing. Nothing weird about that except for the fact that his phone has a giant eye on the center. Remember those futuristic warriors I was talking about? Well one of them, going by Cardinal, called to tell him that Alister (see earlier issues) is dead (unmoored as she calls it). He tells her to call down an Editrix. At this point, I’m more curious as to why she called him Grand Father rather than what an Editrix could be. Could there be a traitor on Earth? Or a spy? How does he understand the strange English these warriors are speaking?
Our Paper Girls seem to be doing just fine, considering that they’re following two mutated, alien-like teenagers through a sewer while one of their friends has been shot and not healed yet. One of the teenagers, Heck (with his friend Naldo), calls back to them, asking what the holdup is. He tells them to keep up unless they want to take their chances with the old-timers. I’m assuming that’s what those warriors are called, so lets call them that for now. KJ waves around her gun, and asks for some answers. The answer Heck gives them gives me more questions. He says that he’s taking Erin to a device that can heal her, and that he didn’t exactly murder Alister, but only executed him. After getting mixed responses Heck says that its okay, since the Paper Girls are “from an effed up time”. Can you guess what year he’s from. Thirteen. No time to keep talking when something roars. They were being tracked by the translator Heck took off Alister. What is it that Heck is so afraid of? Its the Editrix: a spherical monster with multiple tentacles each with an eye on the end. Quickly Heck is shot by the Editrix and the monster grabs Tiffany around her neck. Her life flashes before her eyes. She sees herself sitting in front of the T.V. playing the same game. KJ is able to pull her free and Naldo gets in some good shots to kill it.
That was intense, but everyone makes it out okay, even Heck. Out of the sewer and into the woods they go, but Mac isn’t having any of it. She says she doesn’t trust these “perverts”, but KJ tells her that she can just go back to the nightmare tunnels. Thank comics for KJ, because Mac is pretty annoying. You’d think she’d be one of tough girls you wanna root for, but she’s just another arrogant punk. The team reaches their destination, which happens to be a pod just like the one they found in the basement of the old house. Heck puts his arm through a fleshy looking…something, and climbs in with Naldo and Erin. He doesn’t have the translator anymore, but he tells them to wait. The girls decide to be lookout until they come out. Except they didn’t come out. Instead the pod closed and zipped away, leaving Mac, KJ, and Tiffany alone in the woods. Not too bad, until you flip the page and see three old-timers riding their pterodactyls to the girl’s exact location.
How cool is this book? I imagine this is what ’80s scifi movies were like. The weirder this book gets, the better it is. Not only that, but the amount of depth put into this work is brilliant. Each character is as different as can be. Also, the creative team put together not one, but possibly two languages. One for Heck and Naldo which uses characters that aren’t romanized, and a mashed together one for the old-timers. I’m hoping that we can get some sort of guide for both parties at some point down the line. I know it must have been a strain for letterer and designer Jared K. Fletcher. The symbolism in this book is also pretty heavy. The Public Enemy shirt, the eye on the telephone, the Editrix with multiple eyes, and whatever is going on with Heck and Naldo’s eyes. You just can’t help having questions after reading this issue.
Cliff Chiang and colorist Matt Wilson are a good team. The blues, purples, pink, and browns of the book create an interesting flow. The monochromatic rainbow of colors during Tiffany’s flashback fit well with what they were trying to convey. That being said, this story was very cinematic and would serve well as a 1980s movie or cartoon.