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Paper Girls

Paper Girls #1
Writer Brian K. Vaughan
Artist Cliff Chiang
Image Comics, Inc

Pop quiz: without Googling, name a single bad story Brian K. Vaughan has written. It’s going to be impossible. From Runaways to Y: The Last Man to Ex Machina to Saga, this man has a grasp on character, setting, and tone that is unbelievable. When I found out his new ongoing series was going to pair him up with Cliff Chiang (coming to next month’s North Carolina Comic Con!), I knew I was going to love this book, whatever it turned out to be.

And man, was it great.

The story is that Erin is a twelve-year old girl delivering papers the day after Halloween in 1988 Ohio. After a run-in with mean teenage boys, she joins three other female paper delivery kids to finish the route. Two of them get attacked by a few strange figures in dark robes, and by the end of the issue, we have set up a gripping Papergirls-versus-Aliens story.

This isn’t Saga. Nothing is Saga. But man, this may edge Runaways out for second place. The writer loves these characters, each efficiently distinuished in a very small page count. Mac is the chain-smoking foul-mouthed protective leader, KJ is the athletic peacemaker, and Tiff is the smart one into finances and technology. They don’t feel like stereotypes or cookie-cutter team roles, and in one of the main action sequences, Tiff swings KJ’s lacrosse stick, showing that Vaughan refuses to limit his leads to one role apiece. Cliff Chiang’s art gorgeously describes these girls as girls, not adult women drawn a little smaller, and his aliens are pretty darn scary.

I loved this book, plain and simple. Get down to Ultimate Comics in Chapel Hill or Raleigh, grab a copy while there’s any left on the shelves, and get a nice Cliff Chiang autograph on it in six weeks.

Matt Conner for Ultimate Comics