Saturday, January 05, 2019

Book-A-Day 2018 #370: Paper Girls, Vol. 5 by Brian K. Vaughan and Cliff Chiang

Hey! The time-cops finally get named in this book! They're called WATCH -- we don't know what that stands for, but baby steps, man, baby steps -- and the old guy who runs them is Jahpo Thapa.

And our heroines learn more than his name, which I won't spoil: they learn who he is and how he matters to them.

So, just maybe, Paper Girls Vol. 5 sees this series moving on from throwing out ideas at random and is now finally starting to knit them together into something coherent that can move towards an ending. I'm not holding my breath, but the signs are getting better.

(See my posts on the earlier volumes: one, two, three, four.)

As always, this story of a complicated (and not actually explained, even now) intergenerational time war focuses on four tween girls who were delivering newspapers early in the morning of November 1, 1988 when one piece of that war erupted into their home town of Cleveland. They've been to prehistory and several versions of the future -- including the amazing world of Y2K! -- but this time they're in an actually futuristic future some fifty or sixty years up the line.

(Bad news for me: this locks down the stupid leet-speek future talk to that era, which is even more stupid than when I could pretend in my head that it changed over a few centuries. But it's still Wicked Rad Kewl, which is the real point.)

So Erin, Mac, K.J., and Tiffany -- plus the Y2K version of Tiff they picked up in the last volume -- are stranded in dystopian future Cleveland, with a population in stylish jumpsuits and headgear and the occasional flying murderous police. But they head to the library, and actually piece together a few bits of the backstory in between fighting library golems, being shot at by the aforementioned flying cops, and interrogating senile old women.

They learn that they're considered criminals, maybe because of the kid terrorist time-travelers we've seen before and maybe just because everybody is completely confused about the real origins of the time anomalies and war. That doesn't help much, since they're still a bunch of twelve-year-olds stranded in a city with no way home, among people who talk like particularly stupid members of the gang from Dark Knight Returns.

And, in the end, there's another big problem for the four of them, and they're all stranded in time again. I hope it won't take another five volumes to learn what's the vague deal of the junior combatants in the time war, but I'm not going to hold my breath. My sense is that Paper Girls, like any good serial comic, is going to spin out its central conceit for as long as the audience is willing to keep paying for it. Since I like time-war stories, I guess I'll just keep giving it one volume at a time, and keep up with it as long as there's still something new and interesting in each volume.

But I'd still rather have a real ending rather than endless recomplication.

No comments:

Post a Comment