Review: Paper Girls #3
Paper Girls #3 is here and it opens with two random teenagers, Terry and Gabrielle, as they try to make sense of the supernatural events driving the series. As they stand on their school’s football field and stare up into the swirling vortex above them, Terry goes from confessing his crush on Gabrielle to getting handsy with her. As his sexual entitlement gets the best of him things verge on turning outright rapey when a pterodactyl-riding warrior swoops out of the vortex and vaporizes them both. Speaking in a bastardized Old English dialect that I can’t help but read in Idris Elba’s voice, this new player refers to his victims as “Scruddy teenagers,” a comment that I’ll come back to later.
Overall this installment is pretty fast-paced, and Cliff Chiang and Matthew Wilson continue to bring the eye candy with their artwork. I’ve mentioned it before, but Chiang’s mouth designs are especially impressive in how they communicate the girls’ personalities through their reactions. While I’d like to have had a bit more by way of major plot advancement at this point, this issue was still a solid read.
Issue #2 ended with a cliffhanger in the form of a gunshot, and after the events at the football field we finally find out who was on the receiving end. As the girls scramble to get their bloodied companion to a hospital we come to learn that friends are not something Erin is particularly rich with. On their panicked drive they encounter Space Idris, as I’ve come to think of him. At first a threat, he questions if they are locals and uses translational technology to apologize to them. He informs them that it is dangerous for children to be out during ablation, so we now know there’s some kind of cleansing ritual afoot. Unfortunately, as he’s promising to save the gunshot victim and shed some much-needed light on what’s going down, he meets an untimely end at the hands of the deformed, mummy-esque aliens readers will recognize from previous issues.
When I said I’d come back to Space Idris’ comment about “Scruddy Teenagers” this is the moment I was referring to – using the same translational vocal box that Space Idris employed, the mummies peel back their wrapping, deny being aliens, and assure the girls, “We’re just like you – teenagers!” Those who read the premiere issue may remember that when Erin was first harassed by three boys on her paper route, her reaction was an aggravated “Ugh, teenagers!” Her disgust proved to be warranted, which makes me think this new batch of teens may not be the allies they’re selling themselves as. Compile that with the opening near-assault in this issue and I’d say writer Brian K. Vaughan seems to be making a point of painting teenage boys as the enemy as far as the Paper Girls universe is concerned. There’s definitely an age-related conflict at the root of the events taking place, and I’m hoping Issue #4 will deliver a little more generously with answers than with questions.
Story: Brian K. Vaughan Art: Cliff Chiang, Matt Wilson
Story: 8 Art: 9 Overall: 8.5 Recommendation: Buy in trade
Image Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review