Paper Girls (Vol 3) by Brian K Vaughan

Paper Girls (Vol. 3) by Brian K. VaughanPaper Girls (Vol 3) by Brian K Vaughan (writer) and Cliff Chiang (artist)

This is the third volume of Brian K. Vaughan’s Paper Girls, and if you thought you were starting to get a handle on where the story was headed, think again…

[SPOILER TERRITORY AHEAD – DON’T READ UNLESS YOU’VE READ VOLUMES ONE AND TWO]

The four paper girls are reunited in a completely new place somewhere far off in the future or past, and run into a savage young women who looks vaguely native American except for the technojunk strung around her neck. She is a fierce warrior, but despite her youth is carrying a baby on her back, and thanks to an interpreting device the girls brought with them, they can communicate. In all three volumes, characters from different time periods speak unintelligible languages, enhanced by the creative lettering, and the future oldsters use an evolved form of English as you would imagine would happen over the centuries.

Then a new character from the future named Doctor Quanta Braunstein shows up in a fancy suit and cool hairstyle, while Tiffany and Erin start to bond with the primitive girl Wari and her baby Jahpo. It turns out that three men are after Wari for her baby, and somehow they all claim fatherhood. They look a bit like Uruk-Hai covered with mud, and they too have some technological flotsam to go with their stone axes. Anachronisms abound is this volume, as the theme of crossed time streams comes to the fore. These three cave-men run into and capture Doctor Braunstein, while the girls try to come up with a plan to get back to 1988.

Meanwhile, KJ and Mac spend some time having typical tween chats…in the distant prehistoric past. But when they encounter a weird futuristic construct and KJ touches it…she sees some disturbing things. Once again, Vaughn is very good at using varying panel sizes to build anticipation and delivery of the big reveals, just like in Saga.

The four girls finally reunite in the forest, and inevitably they encounter the three cave-men and the future woman being held prisoner. Lots more happens, and we learn a little about what is happening in the grander scheme of things, but it’s just tidbits of story breadcrumbs that Vaughan is doling out to keep us going. The story is interesting enough that I don’t mind, but this could potentially be a very long and involved series indeed.

In the final chapter of volume three, Doctor Braunstein and the girls discuss the merits of meddling with the ancient past, but then the three cave-men show up and force the issue. The episode ends with some climactic events likely to have major repercussions, and the girls are thrown into yet another time period with another unexpected and dramatic final image…TO BE CONTINUED.


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STUART STAROSTA, on our staff from March 2015 to November 2018, is a lifelong SFF reader who makes his living reviewing English translations of Japanese equity research. Despite growing up in beautiful Hawaii, he spent most of his time reading as many SFF books as possible. After getting an MA in Japanese-English translation in Monterey, CA, he lived in Tokyo, Japan for about 15 years before moving to London in 2017 with his wife, daughter, and dog named Lani. Stuart's reading goal is to read as many classic SF novels and Hugo/Nebula winners as possible, David Pringle's 100 Best SF and 100 Best Fantasy Novels, along with newer books & series that are too highly-praised to be ignored. His favorite authors include Philip K Dick, China Mieville, Iain M. Banks, N.K. Jemisin, J.G. Ballard, Lucius Shepard, Neal Stephenson, Kurt Vonnegut, George R.R. Martin, Neil Gaiman, Robert Silverberg, Roger Zelazny, Ursula K. LeGuin, Guy Gavriel Kay, Arthur C. Clarke, H.G. Wells, Olaf Stapledon, J.R.R. Tolkien, Mervyn Peake, etc.

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2 comments

  1. I felt like this was, in many ways, the weakest of the three volumes mostly for the reasons you’ve mentioned. It felt like it was laying the groundwork for a new phase of the story. I’m still intrigued, though.

    • Stuart /

      Yes, I keep giving it the benefit of the doubt in terms of waiting for the storylines to coalesce, but I’m wondering when that is going to happen. Vol 4 will be available on 10 Apr, so we’ll if things come together more.

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