I picked up this book from issue one, but didn’t really understand what I was getting myself into when I did. I actually let it slide towards the bottom of my “to read” pile that first week, until I saw a tweet from my Comedic Spirit Animal, Patton Oswalt, extoling the virtues of this book is his own way (see: being blunt and simultaneously vulgar and informative). After that first issue, I was hooked- the story is totally unlike anything else out there, the artwork is gorgeous, and the story allows Cliff Chiang’s imagination to literally run wild.
The last issue was where things started to really go off the beaten path for the story, and where the book really opens up it’s cast of characters to include these newspaper girls’ families (it took me the entire first issue to understand what the title “Paper Girls” even meant…) and with this issue we get even more individuals added to the story, and those people only seem to add to the “WTF?!?!” factor of this book.
We see an old man woken by a ringing rotary telephone, but the telephone has an eye in the center of the rotor that opens as it rings. Then we see the old man with a long beard wearing a Public Enemy shirt, and the woman who **SPOILERS** had her partner vaporized in last issue appraises him of the situation, in a very oddly formed version of English, which reminded me of the Pog issue of Swamp Thing during Alan Moore’s run.
I really liked getting some more characterization out of the teenage boys who are like some sort of mutated rebels that are trying to help our newsies out of this situation (or so it seems) and I loved the small moments in the book where we see the girls interacting with one another, really giving this book a very human feeling. I liked that **spoilers** once the “hunters” tracked down the paper girls and their teenage boy guardians and tasked some weird eyeball sphere tech-monster to retrieve them, we switched off the translation mechanism for the boys, and they went back to speaking jibberish. I like that so much of the story seems to happen without the girls getting much (or any) real information about their current situation.
The moment that seemingly took a bit too long for me was when the eyeball covered sphere monster grabs Tiff (I think it’s Tiff, they don’t rely too heavily on names in a book where not everyone speaks the same language, understandably) and while in it’s grasp she has flashbacks of her life, but not her entire life- instead, it is most of her time spent (or some would say “wasted”) playing a videogame that looks A BIT like Doctor Mario, Tetris and Brickbreaker all rolled into one. It took four pages to illustrate that videogames are bad and addictive and she spent all her time playing it? I don’t really think so.
To me, it felt like there needed to be a big ending to this issue, and the story didn’t quite fit a full four issues up to this point, so they stretched things out a bit so that we get the big cliffhanger ending we do in this issue. I really liked the look of that sequence, so while I was reading it I didn’t think much of it, but to go back and look at how much of the book got taken up by a silent interlude about playing too much videogames was a bit off to me.
Otherwise really, I enjoyed the book a lot. I don’t think that there is much that could have been done differently, except to maybe draw out the fight sequence with the eyeball sphere thing and use that to punctuate PARTS of the videogame flashback, but I really like the direction this story is taking, and after that last page (which DID tie in nicely a “to be continued” in pixel-y videogame font) I am really not sure where this story will end up, but I do know that I am definitely along for the ride.
Now, I am going to try something a little different here, and actually try my best to include a score with all the books I review in 2016. I will even try my hand at scoring books on the podcast this week as well. So this will be a bit different, and probably cause me a lot of stress and grief, because I haven’t really given books a rating since not long after I started this whole thing up, because I typically let my words be my review- but I think that if I give a numerical value to the book (1 through 10, at this point) I can use that to post reviews on sites like comicbookroundup and maybe drive some more traffic to the site. So it could be a good thing, and if it doesn’t do much of anything for the site, I may end up dropping them back off again- but for now, lets give it a whirl!