Review: Paper Girls #5

papergirls05-cover-webPaper Girls #5 dropped on Wednesday, and while certain things are becoming clearer, my overall interest is starting to wane. I think I’ve held out hope longer than other folks, based on some of the reviews I’ve read of previous issues, but I’ve finally caught up with the “Get on with it, already” chorus.

*Spoilers ahead*

We pick up in a ‘Whenhouse’ (time travel humor, ha!) where Heck and Naldo are treating Erin’s gunshot wound with a swarm of stolen insects. As it happens, Heck and Naldo are scavengers, because sometimes “yesterday’s trash is tomorrow’s treasure!” They explain how they have to utilize a spaceship in order to time travel since the Earth is always moving, and that they’re working to get Erin fixed up and back to her friends. Erin dismisses her fellow paper girls as “just some people that shot me” so clearly she’s not feeling too kindly towards a reunion. Heck and Naldo become increasingly endearing in this scene but the elders attempt to interfere with their ship and things don’t exactly go well for them, so don’t get too attached.

Speaking of Earth, back on Erin’s home planet Tiffany, Mac, and KJ are still standing in the woods where we last saw them. KJ has a “Eureka!” moment where she remembers the spaceship they discovered in the basement in Issue #1 and pieces together that they may be one and the same. As they decide to head back that way they’re intercepted by Cardinal, the female warrior fighting for the elders. Tiffany whips out the gun, which readers know from the previous issue in unloaded, and effectively disarms Cardinal with an empty threat to shoot her pterodactyl. It’s a clever bluff, and another great display of artist Cliff Chiang’s knack for drawing sneers. Unfortunately for Cardinal, Mac is the one to take away her weapon and winds up inadvertently using it against her, much the same way she accidentally shot Erin. The girls take off and when Cardinal regains her senses she places a call to Grandfather, reporting that the girls are now armed and should be tried as adults. Grandfather decides to step in and take care of business himself.

As Erin starts to come to her senses back on the spaceship we see that Heck and Naldo aren’t doing too well, and they appear to die just before landing. Erin makes her grand entrance, emerging out of the spacepod and into the basement where the other girls are waiting for her. Her earlier bitterness towards them has worn off, and apologies are exchanged as Grandfather calls to them from outside. As he tries to explain that Heck and Naldo were juvenile delinquents and that the girls have unfortunately waded into the middle of a complicated generational conflict, the house folds in on itself, transporting the girls into the future where they are met with a very familiar face.

One of the things I like about the series so far is that neither the elders nor Heck and Naldo seem to qualify as legit bad guys outside of their own conflict. Both sides seem to have a genuine interest in preventing harm to the girls, which I’m guessing means the girls will ultimately lead to some form of peacemaking between the generational factions. I also like the little snarky exchanges that pepper the Paper Girls world with humor and add personality to the characters, but I’d really like to know what pre-existing bonds KJ, Mac, and Tiffany share. It also would have been more interesting to this particular reader if Erin had been holding more of an active grudge upon reuniting with them.

While there’s a lot of action through these first five issues, I don’t actually feel like there’s a whole lot at stake while reading it. Although characters I’ve liked have died, I didn’t get to spend enough time with them to really feel the loss. The characters that are still plugging along are entertaining and interesting, but not what I’d call solid. Each issue is a fun read, but at this point I’d expect a deeper emotional investment which has yet to come to fruition.

Story: Brian K. Vaughan Art: Cliff Chiang, Matt Wilson
Story: 6 Art: 9 Overall: 6 Recommendation: Buy in Trade

Image Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review