The future past, or possible past future of Paper Girls continues to get weirder and weirder, as Tiffany, Kaje, Mac and Erin navigate their way through natives and strange beasts. Paper Girls #12 still doesn’t quite piece together what is going on, but it does reinforce my belief that this isn’t the for-realsies caveman past that the girls have assumed it to be. In fact, I’m still not convinced they’re in the past at all. But first, a question:
Do you ever read a sci-fi story, and someone has a really cool gadget that literally everyone should have, or would want to have, and the author promptly forgets it exists? Let it never be said that Brian K. Vaughan is guilty of this. In an earlier issue, Prime Erin snatched a Babel Fish*-type device off Future/Evil Erin, which not only translated her language, it enabled her to understand the girls, as well. I wondered if that would come in handy later, and sure enough, as Erin looks upon a cavewoman, she realizes the device will help them. This might sound minor, but it’s smart little touches like this that have me so enamored with Vaughan, as an author, and with this series on the whole.
So many pieces of the cave girl’s story make sense, within the narrative. Tiffany compares the dream to the birth of Jesus story, but so much of it matches what we the readers can recall and piece together. Clearly, whoever our mystery men from the beginning issues were, as well as some version of Tiffany, Erin, Kaje and Mac, have visited this time before. It’s still not clear how time is working in this series, only that so very real tampering is occurring. See: the power symbols, and symbols that remind me of a Playstation controller, on the men at the end.
At risk of sounding mildly sexist, it kills me that a male author is so perfectly able to capture the awkwardness of being a teenage girl. It’s not just the anger and confusion Mac shows with the pending knowledge of her death. (She bounces between having moments of vulnerability followed by moments of “toughness,” often which come at the expense of her friends.) In Paper Girls #12, as she realizes Kaje could be injured, all of her pretense is stripped away for a moment of genuine concern.
This interaction is, without question, one of my favorite in the series thus far. Kaje’s own reaction, upon realizing she’s menstruating, is the perfect blend of acceptance and embarrassment all girls have experienced in those early years. Mac’s transition from concern to understanding to equal embarrassment is another thing that sounds minor, but it’s such a real, raw moment between friends. It’s a coming of age experience that is often overlooked in most female-centric stories.
I feel as though I end every review for this series by reminding people that it’s one of the best sci-fi stories in the comic marketplace, and I continue to feel that way. Paper Girls #12 ends on a note that makes me believe we’re finally on the path to some real answers and puzzle pieces fitting together. Buy it. Love it. Fangirl about it.
Our Rating: YUS
Author: Brian K. Vaughan
Artists: Cliff Chiang
Publisher: Image Comics
Publish Date: 03/01/2017
Acquired via Purchase
* The girls even reference Hitchhiker’s Guide. Love it.