Review: PAPER GIRLS #16 (SPOILERS)
By RUSSELL BERGER
Yes, yes, one million times YES! It’s that time again, as PAPER GIRLS #16 has graced our shelves and most importantly our eyeballs! This issue was the start of the new arc “Y2K,” and once again Brian K. Vaughan (writer,) Cliff Chiang (artist) and team give us something amazing and fresh,
The mind-bending, time-warping adventure continues as intrepid newspaper deliverer Tiffany is launched from the prehistoric past into the year 2000! In this harrowing version of our past, Y2K was even more of a cataclysm than experts feared, and the only person who can save the future is a 12-year-old girl from 1988.
The ending of PAPER GIRLS #15 left us on quite a cliffhanger, as we saw robots off in the distance behind Tiffany. It was a grand shot, and like the ending to every arc before it, it gave us something that left us wanting more. This title does one of the best jobs [out of any book on the shelf] at giving us amazing splash pages that amp its respective writer’s (BKV’s in this case) writing to an intense and “smack you the face” level.
The double page spread (panel below) that Cliff [Chiang] gave us in this issue is hands down one of my absolute favorite thus far. It’s weird to try to explain, but Cliff’s style was definitely destined for this book. I truly couldn’t picture any other artist drawing PAPER GIRLS, and that’s not a knock at other artists, it’s the sound of my deep voice singing Cliff’s praise at the top of my lungs– yeah, yeah, I know, your ears are probably bleeding from how bad I am at singing.
I do think that where the last arc got a little convoluted and felt a tad bit different from what we’re used to, this issue reeled it back in. I think that there was this air of not being “grounded” to something tangible that we [as readers] can connect to, but here, for most– eh, depends on when you were born, I guess, but seeing Y2K intertwined into this story really brought back that grounding to something familiar.
I was left with a few questions out of this issue, and one of them being,
Why are we now seeing a younger Grand Father? Throughout the entire series thus far, Grand Father has been– well, for the lack of better way to say it, a grandfather-esque looking character. He had gray hair and a gray beard. He looked old. I think I had referred to him as a “Father Time looking character,” and that’s just what he was, but now he’s considerably younger.
It leaves me wondering if perhaps we’ll see this Y2K Grand Father come face to face with the Grand Father we had been seeing. I think it’d be quite interesting, though it depends on whether or not these are singular temporal characters who can only exist at one point in time at a time. If that were the case, I’d be as equally curious to see how that’s handled to explain the older and younger appearances.
Something else that I had made a point of saying in my PAPER GIRLS — A grand 80’s sci-fi story… was how BKV did such a great job at making it hard to tell who was really a bad guy, and this came right back into play with Grand Father. In this issue it comes across very clearly that he and his “followers” are trying to keep order against whom I can only assume are the TEENAGERS we saw in the first arc, and the doppelgänger of Erin in the second. This really makes me start to think that Grand Father might actually be a good guy throughout all of this, or at least a “lawful good” guy.
Still, this presents many layers of gray, which I think [as a reader and writer] is a wonderful thing. Having gray characters makes the story that much more interesting and full of depth, as it makes so-called bad guys relatable, because their reasoning behind doing what they are might be for their dying kid or something along those lines. It doesn’t make it right, but you understand why.
The BIGGEST question coming out of this issue was (panel below,)
C. SPACHEFSKI. Who the [Paper] girls thought was a guy (Chuck) but turned out to be a woman, CHARLOTTE, in her– eh, if I had to guess, I’d say mid 60’s [or so.] But the biggest thing out of it, and thus the question, is how she knew Erin, Mac, KJ and Tiffany are time travelers. In some way she’s been following their footsteps across time and space, and was oddly expecting them.
BUT something’s not right, I felt like she was expecting someone else. It was clear she didn’t know exactly who would be showing up to her door, but that someone would. And as we can see (in the above panel) she has sketches of the Teenagers. I sincerely think that’s who she was expecting, and not our Paper Girls. This is definitely something that I’m going to keep my eye on through this arc, and see if I’m right [or wrong.]
I’m always finding myself falling in love with this title all over again after reading an issue, and man-oh-man did this issue really do that to me [again.] It really felt like we had gone back to the vibe of the first arc. There was a definite feeling of innocence that coursed through it, and I don’t know, but it strikes me in a good way. It’s able to pull us [readers] out of the chaos of reality and give us something to get away in. Once again I’m pleased to be giving a great score, as I give PAPER GIRLS #16 a 4.6 out of 5.
This amazing issue can be found on the shelves of a local comic shop closest to you, and PAPER GIRLS #17 will be warping through time and space to be there on Wednesday, November 1st!