Paper Girls #11
Writer: Brian K. Vaughan
Artist: Cliff Chiang
Colourist: Matt Wilson
Letterer: Jared K. Fletcher
Publisher: Image Comics
A review by Stephanie Pouliotte
I’ve waited four months to find out what happens next in Brian K. Vaughan and Cliff Chiang’s Eisner winning series, it’s certainly the title I was most eager to return to in 2017. Vaughan eases us back into the story in Paper Girls #11, quickly reorienting us in the timeline of events and reminding the reader of some key developments from the last arc. Since the very beginning of the series it’s felt like the more we find out, the less we know, and this issue isn’t any different. As another red star falls through the sky of this unusual era, we slowly begin to discover how one of the most iconic technology companies fits into this bizarre sci-fi mystery where the past and the future collide.
The opening pages are a refreshing return to the eerie nightmares and premonitions from the first volume. KJ dreams that she’s on the lacrosse field being taunted by her teammates with racist slurs. The dream only gets more upsetting as the other players become increasingly disfigured and start speaking in the futuristic language of the teenaged chrononauts (check out our nifty decoder below!), spewing blood on KJ until she all but drowns in it. The series continues to put coming of age and puberty at the forefront and that transition into young adulthood has been affected by their horrific experiences. Since KJ was absent for most of the last arc, we finally get some much needed character development as she grapples with her past fears and insecurities. Vaughan’s character work is simply phenomenal throughout and is the reason I keep picking this up every month.
KJ then wakes from her frightful nightmare to find Erin leafing through the comics section of the Preserver (she notes that it’s yesterday’s paper, so little time has elapsed since the last issue). The girls have set up camp in a forest clearing, right at the foot of the strange mountain from the last issue, which bears some kind of tribal goat holding the Apple logo. Erin believes there could be some kind of clue in the funny pages, since one of the teens who saved her referred to them when he triangulated their trajectory back to Erin’s time. This was something I didn’t pick up on in the first volume, and it makes me wonder what other clues Vaughan and Chang have tucked away in the panels. Paper Girls is a comic that encourages you to consider every detail, and it’s really engaging to try and piece it all together as the mystery unfolds. Vaughan doesn’t let us get ahead of ourselves though, revealing just information to get our speculation gears running. Though Paper Girls #11 doesn’t have the amazing spreads of the previous issues, Chiang and Fletcher continue to deliver solid artwork.
Buy It! I’m really excited to pick this up again, Paper Girls #11 perfectly eases us back into a thrilling sci-fi story. The girls continue to face some mature and strange situations as they transition from the twilight years of childhood. The dark subject matter never seems egregious however, and Vaughan knows how to strike a good balance. Paper Girls is a comic I wish was around when I was navigating the treacherous waters of adolescence, it certainly speaks to how frightening and uncomfortable that time can be… and I wasn’t even stranded in some unknown era.
My handy Paper Girls decoder! Missing letters: Z