Paper Girls #18

Writer: Brian K. Vaughan

Artist: Cliff Chiang

Colors: Matt Wilson

Cover Art: Cliff Chiang

Published: December 6, 2017

More is learned in this issue about the (moral/fundamental) divide between the ‘old timers’ and the ‘heroes’ that Erin, Tiff, KJ, and Mac have gotten caught up in. It was hinted at in (and mentioned in the review for) the previous issue that this might not be the first time Charlotte (the old lady cartoonist) has discovered people lost in the time stream and x’ed them out. But KJ calls Charlotte out as she stands there pointing a gun at them, telling her that she doesn’t have the conviction. This is a bold move when you’re staring down the barrel, but don’t forget (I totally did) that Tiffany has killed someone before (when the four of them were trapped with cavemen in the past/future). Charlotte explains her fears (which are the general fears of the ‘heroes’) about where society is headed, which sounds a lot like the 2000s. Anthrax scares, planes being flown into buildings, everyone staring at screens. But doesn’t the future always sound like a dystopia when it’s examined without any context. We could/might be living in a dystopia but we can’t appreciate how f***** things actually are because we are right in middle of it and the progression to this point makes a certain amount of sense, or at least we can see the line going back. This is discussed later in the issue by the ‘old timers’ in the red robot, but back to Charlotte’s basement. Erin takes a newspaper and throws it at the light switch, “klack” and the girls run out of the dark basement barring the door behind them. They figure that Tiff probably made her way back to her parents’ house and head in that direction. Meanwhile Tiff is figuring out what type of person she marries and how? As she’s trying not to let on that she is Tiffany, the giant robots continue to battle unseen outside the house. We learn that the people piloting the ‘old timer’ robot are the Prioress and the Grand Father, and their mission is “to preserve humanity’s first draft at any cost.” The ethical/moral/practical arguments of each side aren’t laid out in this issue but the conflict is defined (although how it relates to the four paper girls is unclear). Erin, KJ, and Mac continue to make their way towards Tiff who ( in order to prevent her partner from going outside) told him who she was and then tries to fully convince him. Just as the three girls find the house, the ‘heroes’ robot finally lands a killing blow to the ‘old timers’ (only Tiffany is able to see the robots fighting as everyone else thinks it’s probably fireworks) whose robot potentially crushes Tiffany’s house after the five of them went into the basement. This final blow kills the Prioress, who uses her last breaths to tell the Grand Father that he must follow their one rule.

There’s so many stories that deal with changing the past in one specific way in order to  precipitate some desired effect in the future. It not worth getting into the why this is a good or bad idea as hopefully it will be explored in upcoming issues and can be discussed then (this is maybe the best thing I’ve ever heard about time travel). One thing that it might be worth throwing out there is the idea that the KJ, Mac, Erin, and Tiffany are going to be ones to have to decide about the worthiness of humanity’s first draft. Mac has seen her death predicted, Tiff has seen her husband, KJ has seen herself kissing Mac, and Erin has talked to her older self. They each have an idea of what could happen in the future, and a moment might come when they have to decide how they feel about that future, even though they have no context. And this comes back to the idea that the future always seems worse when we can’t appreciate how it developed, but could you do any better if you had a second chance?

Cliff Chiang and Matt Wilson were great on art once again. There weren’t any surprises or anything that we haven’t seen previously, but the design of the interior of the ‘old timers’ robot is very cool. It’s very clean with bright red and blue screens, which accent the sleek of the design of the Prioress’s black, white and red suit. There is another panel where three of the girls are talking to a police office and are bathed in this wonderful blue light coming from the top of the car. The robot battle continues in this issue, and although it’s not the first time we’ve seen it, just the panels of them fighting each other look very good. At the end of the issue the Grand Father makes a call to other robots in the area, which means the scale of the conflict may be ramping up in the next issue which might give Chiang and Wilson the opportunity to do some very epic work.

(Subjective) Score out of 10: 8

Paper Girls 018 (2017) (Digital-Empire)017
Vaughn, Chiang, Wilson/Image Comics

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