Paper Girls #21

Written by Brian K. Vaughan
Art and Cover by Cliff Chiang

[Mild spoilers]

Due to a big house move last year I had lost track of Brian K Vaughan’s Paper Girls. I had been enjoying the first couple of issues, but never managed to get stuck in before a life’s hectic schedule made me completely forget about the series. When I picked up #21 of the series this week, I was surprised to realize how much I’d missed and apprehensive that I wouldn’t be able to get back into the narrative.

But I needn’t have worried. As a die hard Buffy the Vampire Slayer fan, I was immediately hooked by the opening monster fight scene set in a library. And from thereon I was reminded that regardless of the slightly complex and mysterious time-travel narrative, at the heart of it, Paper Girls is driven by teenage friendship. There are arguments about nicknames, about alliances within friendship groups, and a healthy dose of angst.

In #21 we find the girls zapped into the future, where the English they speak is no longer in use, yet the drugs being sold on the street are oddly familiar (anyone want to go crazy on a flip-phone?). And even in this far future, the library is still the place to go when you want to make out or need knowledge. And although the girls have had a chance to glimpse at their future, there are many things they still don’t know.

It’s a ballsy move to introduce an all-knowing being into a comic series that is based so heavily on the mystique of the events taking place, but that is exactly what Brian K Vaughan does at the end of this issue. Luckily, like the internet several centuries before it, the infinite wisdom is stored in a structure you may not want to reveal too much of your identity to.

Paper Girls reminds me a lot of what it was like to be a teenage girl. Sure, I didn’t have terminal diseases, travelled time, or had a legion of baddies trying to find me, but everything in a teenage girl’s life feels equally catastrophic. And only your best friends, even the friends you’re fighting with, could get you through the endless mess. I’m looking forward to getting reacquainted with Paper Girls and finding out what the future has in store for this girl gang.

7/10