Review: Paper Girls #1

PaperGirls01_CoverPaper Girls is the latest offering from writer Brian K. Vaughan, someone whose work I thought I hated based on two things: A single issue of Y: The Last Man, which intrigued me in concept but annoyed me in execution, and the mind-numbingly stupid abomination that was the television adaptation of Stephen King’s Under the Dome. Thankfully Saga helped me turn the corner on Vaughan, and I found the storytelling and artwork of Paper Girls to be similarly satisfying. I was immediately sold by the opening dream sequence which is especially aesthetically reminiscent of Saga. It’s this sequence that introduces readers to 12 year-old Erin while also setting a darkly fantastic tone that carries into the character’s waking life and hopefully the entirety of the series.

Erin sets out on her paper route in the wee hours of November 1st, 1988, a date she’s dubbed “Hell Morning” on her calendar, and we quickly learn where this epithet comes from as she is immediately harassed and threatened by a trio of costumed boys – “teenagers” she seethes under her breath. It’s this confrontation that introduces us to the rest of the titular Paper Girls Mac, KJ, and Tiffany as they roll up on their bikes ready to defend a sister in need. With a few sharp words (well, calculated slurs might be a more apt description) Mac sends the boys packing. The rest of the issue is largely expository and focused on world-building, familiarizing readers with the core characters, their wits, and how they use them when confronted by aggressors in all forms, be they teenage boys, a dickheaded cop or…aliens?

Other reviews I’ve read have described Paper Girls as “Stand by Me meets War of the Worlds,” but if I were pressed to compare it to something at this point, I’d be more tempted to invoke the film Repo Man for the mix of sci-fi mystery and punk attitude. However, while Paper Girls is heavy on the angst and grit, it goes lighter on the comedic snark and campiness than its cinematic predecessor. It’s hard for me to praise this pilot issue without wandering into spoiler territory, but the characters are an admirable pack of sharp young women who are actively trying to integrate their school smarts with street smarts and I look forward to seeing how they develop as the series grows.

Story: Brian K. Vaughan Art: Cliff Chiang
Story: 9 Art: 9 Overall: 9 Recommendation: Buy In Trade

Image Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review