Wednesday, 6 October 2021

#CBR13 Book 39: "Paper Girls, vol 1" by Brian K. Vaughn and Cliff Chiang

Page count: 144 pages
Rating: 3.5 stars

CBR13 Bingo: Gateway

It's just after Halloween 1988, and four 12-year-old newspaper delivery girls have a very unusual night, full of surprises, peril, and unexpected occurrences.

I went into Paper Girls knowing literally nothing about it except that it was written by Brian K. Vaughan and illustrated by Cliff Chiang, both artists whose work I've liked in the past. Did I know it was set in the late 1980s? Nope. Did I know the protagonists were pre-teens? Big old no. Had I given the title or contents much thought? No, again. I'd just heard a lot of people say it was good, and when the first volume was on offer at my local nerd emporium (where I get pretty much all of my comics, dead tree fantasy and/or sci-fi books, Funko Pops, pop culture-inspired tat and tabletop wargaming paraphernalia for the husband), I picked it up and decided to read it this summer.

I have a turbulent relationship with the creative works of Brian K. Vaughan. I read and mostly enjoyed a lot of his Y: the Last Man, until he made some choices, especially regarding the fate of one of my favourite characters in the final volume that I still have not forgiven him for. He also wrote that absolutely rubbish lions of Baghdad zoo comic, which I literally threw across the room in exasperation. However, he then earned a LOT of forgiveness for Saga, although the jury is out on how much trouble he's in at the moment since the title is STILL on hiatus and my charitable thoughts towards him could go either way, depending on how the series continues (those of you who have read Saga, vol 9 know what I'm referring to). So I was a bit wary about picking up a new title from him.

I've enjoyed Cliff Chiang's art in both Brian Azzarello's run on Wonder Woman and in Ms. Marvel. He still does good work here. 

Volume 1 collects the first six issues of Paper Girls, which I read in an afternoon in mid-July (yes, that is how far behind on reviews I am right now - go corona brain crossed with depression! No initiative at all here). I enjoyed what I read, but was also massively confused, as I honestly had no preconceptions about what I'd be reading, but I certainly hadn't expected a sort of Stranger Things crossed with The X-Files. There is a lot of set-up in these six issues, much of it very muddled, and while I'm sure it will all become more clear once I read more (because I was hooked enough that I will pick up at least the following two volumes to give it a chance), as of now, I didn't really think I could rate this any higher than I have. I thought it fit well into the Gateway square, as it was my gateway into this new comics universe. 

Judging a book by its cover: See, I don't think the girls on this cover look 12! One of them is smoking, for heaven's sake! Yes, yes, I know a whole bunch of individuals started smoking early in the olden days, but I still wasn't expecting this foursome of tough-looking young ladies to be as young as they are. So possibly Cliff Chiang's cover art could have been more clear? Possibly I just needed to do the bare minimum of research about the comic before picking it up? Anyways, I blame this cover for being surprised at how young our protagonists are. 

Crossposted on Cannonball Read

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