Review: PAPER GIRLS #18 (SPOILERS)

“Jesus H. Christ!”

By RUSSELL BERGER

I’ve always found stories that work reality into their fiction some of the most interesting. I think that the way PAPER GIRLS has managed to fold the reality of the world’s history into the sci-fi spin zone has made this title one of the best that you could possibly find on the shelf every month. This arc is clearly coming to a close, and man-oh-man did it kick up the intensity meter ten fold.

Warning Sticker
Warning Sticker from BEST BUY circa 1999

I’m going to start this one out right off of the bat with some much deserved praise for Matt Wilson (colorist,) as his colors on this issue are out standing. He’s been killing it, but this issue in particular really stands out for me. There’s a firm grasp on lighting and in general making Cliff Chiang’s (artist) art pop.

One of my favorite points in this issue is how far we see that KJ’s character has come since issue-one. Seeing her “lay down the law” when she says without “blinking” that she’s “actually killed someone before,” it gives an air of bad-assery to her as well as an overall hardening of the young woman that we’ve been reading for the past seventeen issues.

This goes back to one of my previous assumptions that throughout each arc we would see the characters growing into powerful women. And Brian K. Vaughan (writer) has done an exceptional job at this [thus far.]

Charlotte and KJ
Art by Cliff Chiang, Colors by Matt Wilson

The most intriguing part of the “Y2K” arc has been the interactions between a much younger Grand Father, and the female character named PRIORESS. The fact that you can tell there [perhaps] was a romantic relationship between the two, or that one was forming and neither wanted to step outside of their professional bounds made their story extremely compelling. It makes you [the reader] feel for them as you can see they’re struggling morally atop of technologically to confront the enemy.

One of the things I’m most curious to see unfold is the– mystery of Grand Father’s real name,

Paper Girls; Issue 18, Page 11
Art by Cliff Chiang, Colors by Matt Wilson

I up until this issue thought that with how far from the future they were from, that “Grand Father” was his name. Finding out that he has an actual name changed things for me when thinking long-term about the title’s plot. Then the reveal [at the end of the issue] of his name, and finding out he’s JAHPO — the little baby that our [paper] girls ended up saving from last arc — brings a lot into play.

It explains the reason that they — Erin, Mac, KJ and Tiffany — are so pivotal to the “war.” Knowing that Jahpo wants to preserve things the way they are, and doesn’t want things changing. It also brings into context when Charlotte warns them as they’re running off to find Tiffany that, “The war is over if you get yourselves captured!”

This definitely makes the story going forward a million times more interesting.

Tiffany and Chris
Art by Cliff Chiang, Colors by Matt Wilson

Something that didn’t turn out as well [for me] through this arc so far is the Tiffany meeting her future husband subplot. It underwhelmed for me compared to when we first find out that he [CHRIS] is her husband. It seemed to lag. There wasn’t very much plot movement, and didn’t seem to serve much of a purpose other than as a wow-factor initially.

Other than Chris looking absolutely “electric,” and as I had said, his character’s reveal– I could’ve gone without this in the arc, and feel it still would’ve been essentially the same. Now, unless over the next issue or two we find out that he serves a bigger purpose, that’s where I currently stand on the character and that subplot.

Coming full-circle on Jahpo and Prioress’ characters, this ending made the issue for me. The development that we’ve seen between the two characters, and the emotional bond that Vaughan built makes the death of Prioress pay off wonderfully.

Seeing Prioress warn him [Jahpo] with her dying breath not to change, yet knowing that his loss of her wouldn’t allow him to bring himself to heed her warning, is gut-wrenching. You feel his pain. The fact that she died in his arms because they weren’t armed with sufficient weaponry compared to the Teenagers, along-with him giving her a speech on why they must stay the way they are because their war has rules, it all makes this point that much sweeter.

I’m going to look back to this issue further down the line, and I feel like this one will stand out in a way that the others won’t. It carries emotional weight to it that the others haven’t quite tapped into, and Vaughan managed to get the most out of it by cashing in on something he’d set up since both the beginning and last arc. I give PAPER GIRLS #18 a well deserved 5 out of 5.

This issue can be found at your local comic shop, and PAPER GIRLS #19 can be found if you set your DeLorean to Wednesday, January 3rd,

The Battle of the Ages has begun, and Tiffany and her fellow Paper Girls are caught in its deadly crossfire.

Author: KingDarkhart

I'm a writer working my ass off to get great stories out, and in the meantime I'm the Head of the Comics Department, Editor and writer at ITCNews. I write bluntly honest reviews about comics as well as give my opinions on the on-goings in the comic book industry, and that of the "pop culture" sensationalized comic book extended universes.

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