Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Book-A-Day 2018 #87: Paper Girls, Vol. 3 by Brian K. Vaughan and Cliff Chiang

Can I admit something embarrassing here? I don't really remember the defining features of the four pre-teen girls at the heart of Paper Girls in between one volume and the next.

I mean, I know the one with curly hair is the "new girl," and that one of them is dead as an adult in at least one timeline, but I can't remember their names or seriously differentiate the other three of them. They're just "the paper girls." Maybe if I read all of the collections back-to-back that would be enough to stick, I dunno. But it's an inherent problem with telling a story about a bunch of people with major superficial characteristics in common (Army platoon, single-sex boarding school, convent, etc.)

It doesn't help that they've mostly been just running around, trying not to die, for the equivalent of fifteen issues now. They say character is shown in repose -- I'm sure someone said that, sometime -- and these girls haven't had a second of repose since Hell Morning began.

(I suddenly realize than new readers may be completely lost. If that describes you, you might try checking out my posts on volumes one and two of this series.

So, anyway, I just read Paper Girls, Vol. 3. It's as always written by Brian K. Vaughan and drawn by Cliff Chiang. Our four intrepid female temponauts found themselves in a wilderness at the end of the last book, and that wilderness turns out to be deep in prehistory, but also about as busy as Grand Central Station. Things get yet more complicated with the separate arrivals of the two characters on the cover, one of whom may be the inventor of time travel and the other a local girl only a little older than our core foursome. There are also three menacing local men, who have some high technology that they probably shouldn't and seem to know more about time travel than you'd expect. They are also much lumpier than modern people, for no reason the book explains. I'm not sure I want to know.

Vaughan is still throwing in complications here -- the ending gives us yet another one -- and the model of time travel hasn't settled down at all. If I were more suspicious, I would take the fact that we see completely different time travelers in each volume as an indication that Vaughan is just throwing random ideas out and doesn't have any plan to tie them all together. But I am certain that he would never do such a thing, so there must be some fiendishly complicated plot behind it all that explains the generation-gap timewar, the Apple-branded timeship that just works, and the robomech that was created by Y2K.

Gotta be.

For now, it's zippy and fun and full of adventure, though this volume does get into threaten-the-women-to-show-how-dangerous-everything-is territory. I can hope that was just a momentary aberration, and not a sign of things to come.

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