So this was one weird and wild ride and, of course, it has ended on a cliffhanger leaving me with more questions than answers. Like any good serial comic book story will do. Let me give proper credit where it is due, Paper Girls (volume 3 collecting issues #11-13) has four creators--Brian K. Vaughan, Cliff Chiang, Matt Wilson and Jared K. Fletcher. After reading the first two collections I contemplated buying the individual issues rather that waiting for the next collection/installment in the story. Now I am once again faced with that same dilemma, since I pretty much gulped down this story as soon as pulled it out of the mailer.
So this is a weird, wild wacky story that sort of comes straight out of my own childhood, though thankfully mostly not, too. The story begins back in the late 1980s Cleveland one strange Halloween eve. Four friends, Erin, Mac (Mackenzie), Tiffany and KJ are out on their bikes and while it is not explained what happens, imagine an end of the world scenario. Or, at best, a 'where did everyone go' scenario.
That fateful night they are harassed by boys roaming the streets, and if that is not bad enough, nasty alien-ish creatures arrive on scene as well. Has Cleveland been invaded by aliens? Some sort of nuclear accident or a war no one knows about? I still have no clue. But what I do know is that a strange time slip thing is going on--quite literally they fall through a hole in the atmosphere that takes them back and forth through time to strange places, places of the past and of their adult selves. Imagine meeting yourself in your 30s when you are a mere tweenie? (Now that might indeed be a frightening prospect), and then finding out the 'you' might not actually be you (or a nice version of you).
When last we met the quartet they were in the basement of a house and had discovered a spaceship. It's going to appear in this new volume as well. And the two women on the cover? Neither are the girls in our story so far, but they are going to prove important in ways I am not sure I even know yet. Once again, this volume begins with a weird dream that KJ has that involves girls playing field hockey (mean girls by the way) who turn out to be creepy zombie-ish creatures as well as KJ's grandmother(?) on whose wrist is tattooed a number, and then, KJ wakes up . . . to find she is in some other time and place and that crappy dream? Well, as Erin so kindly points out . . . 'you're still in it'!
The four are together after having been separated in the last book, but Mac seems to have wandered off on her own. Mac is the 'bad girl' of the group, hard talking girl with a 'tude, if you know what I mean. But then she saw into her future and didn't like what she saw, so she has an excuse, right. Mac, walking by a river, meets up with the woman on the left (cover illustration) with her baby attached to her back speaking a language that none of the girls has ever heard or even imagined before. They seem to have traveled back in time. Way, way back in time. Almost to what seems like biblical times, though when they pull out their trusty wrist-watch-thingy they came across on their weird travels that acts like a Babel-fish translator they can communicate with her and learn she calls the stream, stony stream (rather like their Cleveland neighborhood) Stony Stream.
And then things begin to get really weird. Mammoth animals attack and alien-ish men try and get her baby and then another woman (the one with the cool mohawk) arrives in a spaceship . . .
This is probably making no sense to you at all (if you have even read this far!), so suffice it to say, that Paper Girls continues to be one wild, crazy and entertaining ride! I like the description on the website: "Stand By Me meets War of the Worlds in this YA adventure". I know all these people the girls are meeting are important and the 'toys' they are acquiring--this translating wristband, a funky hockey stick (last book) that seems to have almost magical qualities, a 21st century computer disc with interesting abilties (though not a trusted model--an early one that has 'issues') are going to come together somewhere along the way and it will all make sense. So, read on. Actually I think I might go back now and read them all again in quick succession.
And issue #16 comes out in September. So the question again is, do I buy the comic sooner or the collection later?