Paper Girls #19

Writer: Brian K. Vaughan

Artist: Cliff Chiang

Colors: Matt Wilson

Cover: Cliff Chiang

Published: January 3, 2018

So everyone’s safe, at least at the beginning of the issue, after the huge “heroes” robot fell on  future Tiffany’s house at the end of the previous issue. The four girls and Tiffany’s future partner (Chris) are all in the basement. Even though they know something smashed into the house, Tiffany is still the only one that can see it. Tiffany and Chris (understandably) are more keen than the others to get out of the basement and find future Tiffany. Upon learning that Chris is the person that Tiffany decides to marry in the future, Mac uses it as another opportunity to take a shot at KJ and the (still unresolved from a few issues ago) revelation about her sexuality. Seeing as how the four girls find themselves caught in a millennium spanning conflict, its fair enough that there hasn’t really been the opportunity to process this development, and Mac’s contempt has continued to simmer. Mac is dealing with biggest revelation of any of the four girls so her attitude is maybe understandable. Erin and Tiffany have encountered future versions of themselves, KJ saw flashes of a possible future, but Mac learned that she will (possibly) die at a young age, which explains her gruff/apathetic attitude for much of this series.

Cut to future Tiffany at the local convenience store which is closed because of Y2K and everything. As she bangs in the doors to get in, a group of “heroes” run up on her but communicate among themselves and keep moving as she thinks to herself that she has seen this all before. Both versions of Tiffany are able to see the giant time-traveling robots (this is revealed later in the issue) which remain invisible to everyone else. These details and small moments suggest that Tiffany has a larger/very specific part to play in the story yet to come. Elsewhere the Grand Father is seen holding the dead Prioress and telling his fellow Old Timers that “heroes” are now terrorists and are to be killed. It’s not specified if the girls are also put into this category or if they will be recognized as bystanders (not innocent necessarily) to this conflict. Chris and the girls find future Tiffany who upon seeing her younger self immediately vomits from shear surprise. Mac experiences another extremely deflating moment as future Tiffany is surprised to see her alive. After the initial shock wears of meeting a future version of one of themselves wears off (again) the group decides that they need somewhere to regroup away from the robots that are roaming Stony Stream. They head for a church, but immediatly after they arrive a group of Old Timers barges in and begins to attack them. KJ (still wearing the rocket boot she picked up about five issues back) gets in front of her friends to keep the Old Timers back and sacrifices herself. KJ and Chris are both sort of vaporized/teleported (it’s unclear) by the Old Timers before the old lady (Charlotte) reappears and kills the Old Timers before turning a gun on Tiffany, future Tiffany, Erin, and Mac.

Paper Girls 019-007
Vaughan, Chiang, Wilson/Image Comics

After some pretty big revelations in the previous two issues about the idealogical difference and two sides of The War of Ages, this issue slows it back down both narratively and artistically. Mac’s impending/possible death is weighing more and more heavily, as her (seeming) contempt for KJ seems to grow. But even after the angry comments, reactions betray her as a look of distress covers her face when KJ gives sacrifices for the rest of them. The girls are probably functioning less cohesively now than at any time in the previous eighteen issues. Erin is not really heard from in this issue (although she is the only one who uses the holy water when they enter the church), KJ and Mac and dealing with new information that they are struggling to handle, and Tiffany is staring her future in the face (literally). Other than getting away from Charlotte (again), the way forward for the group seems less clear than at any other time. Chris, and possibly KJ, are gone and the girls are still in the dark about the nature of the war happening outside and what they can do about it. The idea that they will at some point have to take sides and decide how they feel about allowing humanity a second draft still stands, but in order for that to happen they will need to hear the old timers reasoning for this war.

Cliff Chiang’s and Matt Wilson’s art was very good once again. Chris and future Tiffany’s whole leather/punk/anti-establishment look is very weird and fun. Chris has this long red leather trench coat, while future Tiff has orange dreads, a portable CD player, high striped socks, and sort of combat boots. You also see a little more of the Old Timer’s downed robot, which looks like it has a layer of bleeding flesh under the black and white exterior. The whole Old Timer aesthetic is very clean and sleek, but when defeated it looks like a properly living thing has died with red liquid dripping and oozing. It’s very interesting how the Old Timers are from a closer time than the “heroes” but their technology is more alien, while the technology from beyond 4,000 A.D. looks more similar to technology in the year 2000. This might never (and doesn’t have to) be explained, but these visual details add more unknowns to a constantly interesting and  rewarding book.

(Subjective) Score out of 10: 7

Paper Girls 019-013
Vaughan, Chiang, Wilson/Image Comics

 

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