Paper Girls (Vol 4): The most satisfying of the series so far

Paper Girls (Volume 4) by Brian K. VaughanPaper Girls (Vol 4) by Brian K. Vaughan

This is the fourth volume of Brian K. Vaughan’s Paper Girls, and we are finally given enough glimpses of the larger plot to make sense of what’s happened until this point.

[SPOILER TERRITORY AHEAD – DON’T READ UNLESS YOU’VE READ VOLUMES ONE-THREE]

After being thrown into the distant past and battling cavemen and befriending fierce natives, the girls once again in their future (and our past), namely during Y2K before the millenium. There are all kinds of strange things happening, not least of which are giant robots duking it out like Transformers in the streets of quiet Stony Stream, but for some reason only one of the girls can see them.

We also get far more details on who the old-timers and young ones are, and why they are fighting a war across multiple timelines. What made little sense and was totally disorienting in the earlier volumes now becomes more clear in hindsight, and Vaughn is having fun peeling back the curtains a bit but also implying that the larger tapestry is vast and complex indeed, enough to justify a long and fascinating run. So that early teasing is finally starting to pay off.

We also get more encounters betweens the girls and their older selves, which is always a fun opportunity for introspective and surprise/dismay at how things turned out. There are also some interesting developments in the relationships among the girls, but the less said the better.

Finally, I found the action sequences involving the old-timers and young ones to be quite intense and dramatic. Vaughan has been careful to not reveal which sides are “good” or “bad”, as they both have their own agendas and rationales for fighting this multi-timeline conflict. The girls of course are caught in the middle and sometimes have to follow their gut instincts in who to believe and side with, which changes as the story progresses.

The artwork by Cliff Chiang remains precise, clean and skillful, and the coloring by Matt Wilson and letter by Jared K. Fletcher are also distinctive and add to enjoyment of this story. It’s a pleasure to read and the full-page panels are always used as dramatic reveals.

I found this volume to be the most satisfying of the series so far, and feel like things are starting to pay off finally.


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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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One comment

  1. I really like this genre, have to read it right away

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