Thursday, May 19, 2016

Paper Girls, Volume 1

 The best '80's coming-of-age/Sci-Fi/buddy action film never made.

 It's tough to review a book like PAPER GIRLS, VOLUME 1 without giving something away, and discovering what's going on as you unravel the plot is a big part of what makes the book so much fun.

 Written by Brian K. Vaughan and illustrated by Cliff Chiang, PAPER GIRLS, VOLUME 1 is, without a doubt, one of the best times I've had reading a comic book all year. The story opens the morning after Halloween in 1988, where a quartet of young paper girls discover some truly unusual things happening in their small town. The back cover has a "Science Fiction" label on it, so I can safely say at least that much without feeling like I've given something away, but it's probably best if that's all that I say. The plot is trippy and twisted, and, although precious few questions are answered in this first volume, I didn't close the book feeling unsatisfied. Vaughan has laid out a rich set of mysteries, and I'm enough of a fan to trust that he has an endgame in mind.....I'll be sticking around to see what it is.

 The real selling points of this book are the titular quartet of paper girls. I was maybe 15 pages in, when something clicked in my mind, and I was instantly in love with these characters. I have a thirteen-year-old daughter, which is roughly the age of these characters, and they are so well-written and fully realized that I was able to settle in and enjoy their adventure without feeling like I was reading a children's book, and without feeling weird that I was reading a story about people decades younger than myself. (I enjoyed this book immensely, and I think my daughter will, too. I'm planning on buying her a hard copy this weekend.)

 Using only dialogue, Vaughan manages to give each girl a unique personality and a rich, involving backstory, and Chiang's art provides a perfect counterbalance. Chiang is also that rare breed of comic-book artist that can draw a kid without making them look like a deformed, shrunken adult. Vaughan and Chiang have set up a great mystery here, and I'm really looking forward to seeing where they take the premise in Volume 2.

 Image Comics provided a review copy.