Vaughan & Chiang's "Paper Girls" Builds a Familiar Yet Disconcerting World
Yes, it’s back!Â SorryÂ I’ve been so busy these past weekends, and I failed to delve into the back issue boxes.Â I hope thisÂ week makes up for my absence!
Hey, remember those good times we had with Demonslayer?Â Well, today’s entry makes me almost nostalgic for that piece of garbage!
I might have to remind people about the ground rules for these posts, because I’ve been such a slacker recently.
Objective Five #3 (“Airborne”)Â by Kevin Hoffer (story), Luke Lizalde, and Allen Martinez and Danny Miki.Â Published by Image, September 2000.
Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â
No, I have no idea why those people are falling on the cover.Â Please don’t ask such logical questions of this comic!
You know, the only good thing I can say about this comic is that it has a nice recap page at the beginning and it’s easy to follow along.Â Of course, that begs the question: Should you follow along?Â Well, no.Â I’d like to say how bad this comic is, but I thought I’d just explain it, show some “art” from it, and let you decide!Â I want to point out that everything I quote from this book is exactly as it appears in the book.Â I didn’t want to use [sic] all the time, so just keep that in mind as you’re reading, okay?Â
Let’s check out that recap, shall we?Â We learn about “Lark, Alexis, DJ, and Simon,” who were “on their way to a rave in the desert” when they became “inadvertent test subjects of a ‘super-soldier’ virus.”Â The Center for Disease Control found out, and Lark, Alexis, and DJ were “brought back to Atlanta (CDC Headquarters) for observation and testing.”Â As their DNA had been “enhanced” by the virus, the CDC recruited them “to eliminate bio-weapon threats around the world and at home.”Â But what of Simon?Â He was “picked up” by his father’s multinational corporation, which is of course evil (it’s a comic book, after all, and all multinational corporations are evil).Â The “Coxx Corp” (yes, Simon’s last name is Coxx) “has a darker purpose: to turn Simon into the weapon they need to enact their plan for global control.”Â But that’s not all!Â “A killer” is out there, showing the world “the power of his viral creations.”Â The CDC, “with the help of the newly formed covert Objective Five team,” hopes to eliminate the killer “before widespread epidemic and panic throw Southern California into chaos …”Â Phew!Â Did you get all that?
We begin with the killer, whose face we don’t see on the first page, but who narrates with some fervor: “My name is Daniel Myers.Â I will show the world that they cannot be protected.Â I will show them how vulnerable they all are.Â I wll show them what they cannot see.”Â Testify, Daniel Myers!Â We shift to John Wayne Airport in Los Angeles, where Agent Marcia Vaughn meets the Objective Five team.Â We quickly see that the writers (I’ll get to that) are not only good at overheated prose, but they aren’t very good at writing dialogue that sounds like it’s actually being spoken.Â This book could have used some Bendis!Â One example: “What are we doing all the way in he back?Â We’ve already passed all the elevators in front?”Â Okay, that’s not a great example, but the question mark at the end is classic.Â Once inside the “CDC Emcon Center,” we learn more about the problem: “As we speak, there seems to ba a killer operating out there using previously unknown viruses, with similar effects on a variety of subjects.Â The key here time folks.”Â The speaker sends the Objective Five team out to Newport Beach, but first, the speaker wants to talk to Lark.Â We learn that Lark is Alexis’ daughter.Â Take a look at both Alexis and Lark:
Â Â Â
Which is which?Â You can’t tell, can you?Â Alexis is on the left.Â Yeah, they’re mother and daughter.Â Anyway, the speaker puts Lark in charge of the team.Â She says, “Look Lark, I know that you are the youngest of the three, but that does not mean anything.”Â Haven’t the writers ever heard of contractions?Â Lark’s “psionic gift and adaptability are vital in this situaiton.”Â Her “ability to get into a persons head is the only advantage” they have.Â Lark says she’s ready, but she’s not sure!
Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â
Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Who has the weirder lips?Â You make the call!
We head back to Daniel Myers, whose face we finally see.Â His narration is really odd.Â “Kids these days don’t really know the world,” he muses.Â “It’s different than twenty years ago when the only interesting thing was the ‘idiot box.’Â Now they have this crap.Â This goofy slime.Â Six dollars for a smelly sticky substance with no purpose but to waste time.”Â He holds up a jar with some green slime in it.Â He adds a few drops of his virus to the slime, thinking, “But time is a killer in itself.Â Alas, I have the answer for these kids.Â I’ll institute my purpose.”Â If your head hurts reading this narration, you’re not alone.Â It’s a fairly simple scene: Daniel adds a virus to a kid’s toy.Â The narration is what pushes this into the stratosphere of glorious crap.Â He heads off to Newport Beach Middle School, where the Objective Five team is arriving.Â The first spoken words are by Alexis, presumably (they’re coming out of a car, so we don’t know who’s speaking, but DJ responds to Alexis, so I assume she spoke), who says, “The school the index attended.”Â I have, quite literally, no idea what the hell she’s talking about.Â That’s the beauty of this issue!
Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â
They arrive just as school is getting out, so it’s going to be hard to find the bad guy.Â Lark “open[s] her mind” and searches, and she “hears” his thougts: “My mission will be complete.Â The world will not underestimate my power.Â This virus will show them.”Â Oh dear.Â He leaves his jar of “goofy cacka” on a bench, and a kid picks it up and plays with it.Â He gets some in his eye, which means he’ll be dead soon.Â Too bad, kid!Â That will teach you to steal someone else’s goofy cacka!Â (I must admit, he doesn’t die in this issue, so it’s possible he survived, if they found a cure in time.)
Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â
We shift to what we soon learn is Coxx Corp, where Simon is beating on an employee, just kind of for the hell of it.Â Check out his outfit:
Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â
His father interrupts and says, “Impressive, my boy.Â You seem to becoming the man I could never have dreamed you could become.”Â Parse that sentence!Â Holy crap, does nobody involved with this book actually speak English?Â Simon’s father explains that a former employee of theirs is loose with some bad viruses, and Simon needs to bring him in before the CDC gets him.Â So there’s another player in the mix!Â Back in SoCal, the little kid, Joshua, doesn’t feel well.Â He says so to his mother, who says, and I quote (I couldn’t make this stuff up!), “Joshua!Â Please don’t interrupt me when I’m doing my crosswords.Â What is it?”Â Awesome.Â At least she wrenches herself away from her puzzles long enough to put the kid to bed, saying, “You get some sleep, so Mommy get some time to herself.”Â Yeah, Joshua!Â While you’re at school all day, Mommy is too busy fucking theÂ pool boyÂ to do her crossword puzzles, so she needs to do them now, you little bastard!Â An hour later, Joshua is bleeding from his eyes.Â When the CDC comes and takes Joshua away, then Mommy feels bad.Â Too bad, Mommy!Â It’s your fault your kid is going to die!
Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â
Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â You know who wears purple lipstick?Â Negligent mothers!
At the CDC SoCal HQ, Lark tries to read Joshua’s mind to discover what’s going on.Â All she gets is a full-page spread of, well, it’s kind of hard to describe:
Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â
In case you can’t read the words, it says: “It’s funny how what we really want, escapes us from the minute we are born to the minute we die of old age.Â How simply by growing old we sadly revert to the helplessness of our youth … never realizing exactly what we want to accomplish.Â Just knowing that through it all we were spewing out whatever we can just for a distraction.”Â I, personally, have no idea what that means, but on the next page, Lark breaks contact and says, “I know where’s going now!”Â She interprets the message as an indication that the killer is “going after old people” because viruses work best against senior citizens and kids.Â But if she’s reading Joshua’s mind, how would he know?Â That’s best left unquestioned!Â She says, “Where’s the closest retirement home?”Â In the next panel, Simon drives his sports car (with none of its tires on the road, because he’s driving so fast) as the caption reads “Hurtling toward the nearest retirement home.”Â Now that’s a segue!Â As he arrives as Crystal Bend Retirement Home and gets out of the car, it’s worth quoting his thoughts in all their wonderful, insane glory:
“Control.Â I am always in control.Â I am the master of my own destiny.Â I am not the pawn of my father.Â I am my own man.Â I’ll show him.Â I’ll show him.Â I am control.Â I am the essence of power.Â I am not my fathers employee.Â Not a slave to do his bidding, I am more, so much more.Â I walk my own walk now.Â I step out a badass in my own damn right.Â So they keep me alive.Â So what.Â I’m awesome now.Â Nothing can stop me.Â My suit.Â Just a perk.Â A perk of my father’s wealth.Â That’s a small price now.Â I am more than anything my father could have dreamed.Â I am my own man.Â I am control.Â And everyone will see, that me, Simon Coxx is pure, freakin’ power!Â Now whose sorry ass do I have to kick?”
He says this last sentence as he enters the retirement home, looking for the bad guy.Â He finds him rather easily and beats the shit out of him.Â Check out the weird way he punches Daniel Myers:
Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â
Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â
I split the page up, but the bottom example directly follows the first on the page.Â In theÂ third panel of the first scan, Daniel appears to be struck by no one, and in the third panel, he’s falling as if he’s been dropped from a great height.Â I’d love to say Fuck the heck? but I think I’ve used up all my amazement about this issue long ago.Â On the next page, Objective Five shows up, and Alexis says that someone found the virus killer first, and “that someone is now a bigger threat than our killer.”Â You have to love the outfits they wear as they burst into the retirement home:
Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â
What exactly are Lark and DJ wearing on their pants?Â It looks like solid metal bands around their thighs (you can see them much more clearly on the cover).Â And you have to love Alexis sporting the thong-above-the-pants thing.Â Those CDC operatives have to look s-e-x-y!
So it ends.Â This is an amazingly bad comic book.Â Looking at it from the standpoint of someone who’s never read a comic, let’s consider it.Â We do get a story that’s fairly easy to follow and keeps everything moving along well.Â However, we have no idea what “powers” Alexis and DJ happen to have, unless Alexis’ power is to be a MILF and DJ’s is to look androgynous.Â We also have no idea why the group is called “Objective Five.”Â What is the fifth objective?Â What are the first four?Â Plus, even though the book is fairly easy to follow, the writing and the art are so awful that if you are a first-time comic book reader, you are completely justified in laughing at us as the nerds we are!Â I mean, with regard to the art, why does everyone have such a big head????
Â Â Â
Kevin Hoffer, who came up with this story, has two editorials in the back of the book.Â One of them promises that issue #4 will definitely be out in November, not October as scheduled.Â I guess it’s commendable that the creators at least try to placate their fans when the book is late!Â Then Hoffer has another letter, about the team that puts this book together.Â He talks about the various people who are involved, and what’s fascinating about it is that he credits three different people for “research” about, presumably, the viruses.Â I mention this because the credits at the beginning of the book list the penciller, Lizalde, first, then the two inkers, then the colorist, and finally Hoffer with the “story.”Â It’s not clear if Hoffer actually wrote the script, but that’s the closest we get to a credit for the writer.Â Someone is credited with a “script assist,” so I guess Hoffer is the writer, but I’m not terribly surprised the writer wants his “credit” buried way down on the list.Â If only Lizalde had felt that way as well!
GodDAMN, this is a bad book.Â Please let me know if you bought this so I can find out how it ended!Â I mean, how can I live without finding out the fates of Lark, Alexis, DJ, and Simon Coxx?!?!?!?
I also wonder when Image became a good company.Â Noble Causes came out in late 2002, so maybe that’s it.Â When did this kind of comic stop being their bread and butter?
Comics Should Be Good accepts review copies. Anything sent to us will (for better or for worse) end up reviewed on the blog. See where to send the review copies.