A title that quickly became one of my favorite was Brian K. Vaughan and Cliff Chiang‘s Paper Girls. The title does a wonderful job at exploring the highly saturated topic of time travel, while simultaneously filling it with the (currently) popular craze of 80’s nostalgia. While the latter is certainly a big reason for its popularity among Image Comics fans, I like to think that the perfect traversing of time travel is what makes this title so good.
This issue was a (if not the) prime example of Vaughan’s very intricate, but yet simplistic, way of using time travel to bring the overall story back to where it began in “OH! I remember that!” moments.
Of course the big one was ALISTER going back to 1988—where in time the (Paper) girls are from, but also the first arc—and you can’t help yourself from lighting up in a truly attached way. You might ask, “‘Attached’?” Well, yes, attached because you’ve invested time into the story yourself, as its reader and connoisseur. Seeing a writer give us a nearly perfect callback to something from roughly 20-issues prior is part of what makes comics so great.
Seeing Alister back where it all began gets you in one of those Charlie Day mind sets where you start trying to figure out “Well, if he’s there, then, but we know he dies then, how can he be there—unless he’s a single dimensional being in which” and spiral out of control.
But this is what makes Paper Girls so good compared to some books. It sucks you into it to the degree that only the best stories can.
Another strong point in this issue, but in the opposite direction of what I was just speaking to, is the capitalization on foreshadowing. I know, I know, I know, I’ve said it before, but I’m saying it again— I love foreshadowing. I think it’s one of the best storytelling tools, and that’s because you can set the reader up to think one thing is going to happen, but then pull the rug out from under them and have something completely opposite, only for them to rethink what was foreshadowed and go, “Oh man, I should’ve seen that coming!”
Vaughan has been using foreshadowing throughout this title, and it’s always top-notch. And there’s two things that really are working off one of my favorite techniques: (1) the eventual kiss between Mac and Kaje, and (2) the huge bombshell dropped near the end of the issue with WARI.
- I’m loving the inner struggle we’re seeing go on between the two. As Kaje is trying to figure out what she really feels, and trying to make sense of what the vision of her and Mac kissing could mean. It plays perfectly off the contrast with Mac’s approach— deny ’till you die… okay, um, pun was a little intended.
- We got some interesting foreshadowing with Wari telling Erin and the Tiffanies that, “[Erin was] just here the other day.” This foreshadowing, to me, takes the story to a whole new level in the fact that the (Paper) girls have never been somewhere before they showed up there. Of course, in the sense that they come back to a point after having been there, but not being there until thaaaaaat… Okay, I’m starting to spiral here. But the point is that something caused a slightly in-the-future Erin to come back to Wari before they had originally met her in that point in time.
When you close the last page on this issue, you’re left wanting more. And that’s what I call a great issue of a comic, when the creative team leaves their audience ready to dive back in.