Paper Girls #22 Review

Written by: Brian K Vaughan
Art by: Cliff Chiang
Coloring: Matt Wilson

Paper Girls is able to effortlessly capture the spirit of the 80s whilst being set in a distant future. Partly this is due to Brian K Vaughan’s writing which manages to make a love of walkie-talkies not just an easy nostalgia score, but a natural part of the narrative, and give the script a real John Hughesian flair. But this 80s feel is really anchored throughout any era the titular girls find themselves in, by Matt Wilson’s superb coloring work. The color palette is so consistent throughout this series, and the vibrant colors easily remain subtle enough not to stray into garish. The pinks, blues and yellows added to Chiang’s art really lift this comic to a different level.

Brian K Vaughan manages to work together with artists who do a stellar job at the design of his characters. Perhaps Paper Girls is a little more restricted in its designs than Vaughan’s other title Saga, where the brilliant Fiona Staples gets to design new and wonderful creatures at least once an issue. But Chiang’s design of the ‘librarian of the future’ shows that in this world too there can be surprising creatures. I loved the design of this character, even if it shows up only briefly.

The writing of Paper Girls #22 brings us more from grandfather and his plans to track down the girls. As well as some further exploration of Mac’s future and KJ’s visions. Again, Vaughan makes easy transitions between the grand plans of some future villains and the minutiae of teenage emotions. The scene between two of the antagonists in this issue reminded me that Vaughan’s strength as a writer (one of many) is his writing of dialogue. It is rare that a character will go off on a monologue about some motivation or another. A character can be talking about their grand evil plot, whilst still bickering with their relatives. This makes all the narrative rooted in the way people actually relate to each other and the world around them. A main bugbear of mine in comics is when writers rely on external narrators or have their characters pace around a room in solitude whilst thought bubbles take care of all the exposition. Or worse, when two characters have an entire dialogue in which they explain their entire plan, without really ever referring to anything else, just for the sake of catching readers up. Tactics like that are boring writing and a waste of pages in my opinion. Instead, Brian K Vaughan will take a little longer to let you catch up, it may take you a couple of issues to be able to figure out how everything fits together, but the writing is exciting, the characters are all fully formed, and the story gets moved forward.

Paper Girls 22 was yet another enjoyable romp through time and space. It provides readers with more of all the perfectly honed elements that make this series so enjoyable to read.

8.5/10

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