Paper Girls #16
Writer: Brian K. Vaughan
Artist: Cliff Chiang
Colourist: Matt Wilson
Letterer/Designer: Jared K. Fletcher
Publisher: Image Comics
A review by Stephanie Pouliotte
First off, the cover for Paper Girls #16 is just boss, I think it’s my favourite one yet. Tiff always gets the best covers (remember when she bull rode a tardigrade?!) and, based on some familiar retro-gaming flashbacks in this issue, I’m really excited that we may be in for a Tiff-centered arc!
In the last issue, the paper girls barely escaped the prehistoric timeline, somehow making the temporal jump even though they didn’t get to Dr. Braunstein’s capsule before it sealed itself. Tiff was separated from the others, though they all appear to have made it to January 1, 2000 in the apparent aftermath of Y2K. Though 2016 was obviously relevant to us as readers, hitting up the early 2000s is a nostalgia trip I was oddly looking forward to since the reveal last issue, especially with the colossal mechs rampaging about. Did the government secretly build giant robots that were susceptible to a virus when their internal clocks rolled over to 00 as a result the feared Millennium bug?! Well… not quite. Unsurprisingly BKV pulled a fast one on us, but delightfully the truth is even more bizarre!
The story jumps around a lot in this issue and it’s clear that Vaughan is moving things along much faster, which I’m grateful for, as the girls get better at this whole time traveling thing. They make real headway in unraveling this temporal web. The girls have always had a fair amount of agency, but they were also often reactive due to the very nature of a plot that constantly throws them into all these wholly unfamiliar situations. But with each jump, the girls are quicker to find their footing. This is the first issue where we see Erin truly take charge of the situation as soon as they get their bearings.
We get a ton of information thrown at us in each panel, with lots of hidden symbols and recurring motifs that make this comic so much fun to pore over! This issue opens with the apple motif again, which crops up all over the place, particularly in the use of futuristic Apple tech. Some very interesting things are revealed about the old-timers and about the Grand Father himself as well. For instance, they use a lot more language with specific religious connotations in this issue and Chiang’s depiction of a new character folds into that quite nicely.
Buy it! Paper Girls #16 is taking the series exactly where it needs to go, picking up the pace as the girls start piecing everything together. This issue was like an oasis in the desert for those of us who have been waiting for this series to hit the shelves again.
Even though it’s the start of a new arc, this issue isn’t really a jumping on point for those who haven’t read the rest of the series. You’ll certainly be a bit lost, though I assure you you’ll be highly intrigued, as this issue is all over the temporal map. That being said, this is probably the best time to binge read the rest of the series and catch up, because I predict that Vaughan is ramping up to something big in this arc, potentially the first encounter with the Grand Father.