I'm not sure if having recently crushed Stranger Things on Netflix made this month's issue of Paper Girls better or if conversely having read Paper Girls is in fact what made Stranger Things so enjoyable in the first place? Either way, the two have an almost symbiotic relationship and I highly recommend pairing them together. With that said, let's discuss this month's edition of Paper Girls! The group is fractured: Erin and "Older Erin" are still tracking down K.J.'s whereabouts, while Mac and Tiffany process the news they've just received of Mac's impending death (*last month it was revealed that Mac dies of Leukemia in the year 1992). Elsewhere, "Future Erin" has found a transport and is desperately trying to find her way back to the girls to save them from…I'm still not sure; we still have more questions than answers in Paper Girls. Monstrous alien blobs continue to wage a Godzilla like battle in the downtown core and unless the girls, with the help of "Future Erin," are able to figure out a way to set everything back to the way it was, the future will be swallowed up the same way as the past! As the issue closes, we shift back to the "two Erins" in the abandoned mall; they've found something. But what is first thought to be a clue as to the whereabouts of their lost friend, soon after is revealed to be a veiled warning that someone in the group is not what they seem and cannot be trusted.
This was a very philosophical/metaphysical issue. It raised some truly thought provoking questions and the dialogue was extremely evocative. It's an interesting twist to show such young children dealing with such hard hitting adult topics like death, love; it illustrates how when it comes to those subjects we "adults" often still feel like children ourselves. Mac's "death" has to be the most obvious example of this, so imagine for the sake of this thought experiment that you're 12 years old: you've just been told that in three years you will contract a terminal disease and as a result you'll be dead before your 16th birthday. What do you do? How do you act? Do you sink into acceptance or defy your stars and refuse to go gentle into that good night? Equally as thought consuming: if everything you did in the next 24 hours would be erased from existence, with no trace or memory of your actions left behind, what would you do? Who would you love? Who would you hurt? It's these honest moments of introspection that make for immensely enjoyable reading while simultaneously distinguishing Brian K. Vaghan as one of the most talented writers of today.
My only real complaint or problem with this month's issue is the artistic effort put forward by Cliff Chiang: this is most assuredly not an example of some of his best work. Don't get me wrong, there are some absolutely brilliant panels displaced throughout the pages but overall it comes off looking rushed and far more subdued than we are used to seeing from Chiang. Also, I'm not trying to be a dick but when you put an incredibly detailed panel, with immaculately drawn eyes and facial expressions, next to one of almost identical size that's drawn with button eyes and a comic smile: that's just being fucking lazy. You're better than that Cliff, so be better.
I can't say enough times how nice it is to finally have the wheels turning in the Paper Girls world; for so long the story just kept expanding outwards with no resolution in sight, so it's nice to see some horizon for a change. Admittedly we still don't know much as far as the 'why' of it all is concerned but I anticipate some concrete answers coming before the end of this sophomore arc. Keep doing what you're doing Paper Girls team (Cliff, we've already had our talk), you continue to be the highlight of my monthly pull-list!
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Paper Girls #8 Writer: Brian K. Vaughan Artist: Cliff Chiang Colours: Matt Wilson Price: $2.99 Publisher: Image Comics Format: Ongoing; Print/Digital