Zeb Larson reviews Paper Girls #3…
The ongoing mystery series from BRIAN K. VAUGHAN & CLIFF CHIANG charges ahead, as the girls have a close encounter with an unexpected visitor.
Good God, what the hell is happening in this comic? I’m not complaining, but we’re three issues in and it’s gotten even more complicated and confusing than it was in the first issue. Ah, who am I kidding, I love it. Thankfully, hardy souls on the internet have pieced together that the alien language we see can be cracked with a substitution cipher (check it out here), so we can at least go back and read through the whole old dialogue. What we learn in this issue raises a few fair questions, but at least we get a little closer to understanding the people and creatures that have appeared. I will be discussing spoilers in this review, so consider yourself forewarned.
Terry and a girl named Gabs find themselves on the football field, where they have a brief spat amid all the weirdness before they’re dematerialized by a strange faux-knight speaking a sort of neo-Shakespearean techno dialect. Back at the house, we learn that Mac managed to deflect the shot away from her step-mother…right into Erin, who collapses with a bullet wound in the stomach. If things couldn’t get worse, the mother abruptly disappears. The others try and take Erin to a hospital, but they run into that same guy from the beginning. He eventually figures out that they’re “natives,” and promises to help them during the “Ablution” but before he can explain, he’s shot and killed by the same cloaked figures from earlier, who have a secret of their own to reveal: they’re teenagers too.
In general, I liked this issue. I will say that Erin and Mac are getting the lion’s share of character development, while Tiffany and KJ seem to fill supporting roles. Don’t get me wrong: they’re here, and they’re more active in this issue (Tiffany drives and KJ gets the gun), but I want to learn more about them.
Halfway through the issue, Erin has a sort of hallucination involving Ronald Reagan (who was himself shot in the side and survived). He tells her to “remember her papers” and holds up an all-black apple, itself bleeding. Just what the hell does that mean? I love that all of Erin’s dreams are wrapped up in the events of the 1980s: the Challenger explosion, Hinckley’s shooting of Reagan, and the Strategic Defense Initiative (“Star Wars”). But I can’t think of any possible significance for a black apple, except the Apple logo we already saw.
Well, it’s safe to say that the Rapture has been ruled out, because it’s not done by a bunch of teenagers. Are they trans-dimension travelers? It’s safe to say that the cloaked figures have at least some kind of connection to Earth, given that they’re dropping iPods as they go, but beyond that we don’t have much. It’s a shame that the neo-Shakespearean bit the dust so early because I really wanted to figure out what his story was. The best I can say is that everybody they’ve encountered feels like they have some kind of pop culture character: cyborgs, beasts, dimension travelers…And this is a small detail, but the text at the end reads matches old video-game font. Is all this a giant mixture of ‘80s pop culture and historical references?
This book is a great enigma, but I feel like somewhere there are the small details I’m missing that will crack it open. Now that the invaders are talking to the girls, we’ll learn some more. Oh well, maybe something will jump out to me next issue.