Vaughan & Chiang's "Paper Girls" Builds a Familiar Yet Disconcerting World
It’s the end of “A review a day!” It’s the last review of my 2010 comics! It’s the end of an era!!!!!
A while back, I reviewed an issue of The Tenth that Beau Smith wrote, and pretty much eviscerated it. Smith was nice enough to comment on it, which was mighty cool of him. It’s not that I don’t like Smith’s writing, it’s just that I didn’t like that issue of The Tenth. I haven’t read a ton of his stuff (I skipped his run on the Guy Gardner book, for instance, because I just wasn’t interested in the character), but I’ve enjoyed some of his comics. So when I saw he was writing a book about Wynonna Earp, descendant of the Wild West lawman, who works for the Black Badge division of the U.S. Marshals hunting down paranormal bad guys, well, I just had to have it! The book is drawn by Enrique Villagran (with a short story at the end which was drawn by Manuel Vidal) and colored by Kris Carter (the main story) and Adriano Honorato Lucas (the short story). It’s published by IDW and costs $17.99.
There’s good and bad about Wynonna Earp, and they’re pretty much the same thing: Smith wants to tell a straightforward action/adventure story with some weird paranormal elements, and he succeeds. He gives us not one, but two kick-ass woman – Wynonna is the star, but another young lady named Holly Day is part of her team and is quite the tough-and-beautiful chick as well. Smith does a good job with the basics of character development – he’s not terribly interested in a deep backstory for any of these characters, so he simply gives us the bare minimum and then turns them loose. One of the members of Wynonna’s team, Smitty, is the stereotypical big tough guy – he drinks a lot and flirts ceaselessly with Holly (who flirts right back) – and Wynonna has a past with another character, but that’s about it. This book is all about action, and Smith has no time for too much characterization. There are Yetis to fight!
So why is this good and bad? Well, because Smith has a ton of fun with this comic, and most people reading it probably will too (I certainly did). Wynonna and her crew track a redneck genetic scientist who’s brilliant in the lab and charming with the ladies and has hooked up with a group of immortal beings who are splicing various animals together not unlike Dr. Moreau (Wynonna specifically calls Dr. Robidoux, the evil scientist, a modern-day Moreau). Apparently in this world, vampires aren’t immortal, and they want to be, but they need the immortals’ DNA to do so. Dr. Robidoux, it seems, has been hired covertly by the vampires to double-cross the immortal crime syndicate for whom he works and retrieve samples of their genetic makeup. Wynonna and her team plan to stop him and cripple both the vampires and the immortals. It’s basically an excuse to show Yetis – the immortals use them as muscle – to fight bigfoots (bigfeet?) allies of Wynonna while the U.S. Marshals are blowing shit up. Yee-fucking-ha, say I!
At the same time, however, it’s not very memorable. It’s a pleasant comic, but there’s nothing here that really makes it something you love. Well, maybe you do, but I didn’t. I enjoyed it and would recommend it to people, but it’s not something that’s going to stay with you. For some people, maybe that’s not a bad thing – they want to be entertained for as long as the book or television show or movie lasts, and that’s fine. It’s something that I swing back and forth on – I have no problem with something that does exactly what it sets out to do and does it well – Smith keeps the action moving well, has fun with the dialogue, has some decent twists in the story (one we can see coming, but that’s okay), and Villagran’s sturdy art is pleasantly old-school – but on the other hand, I also really want stories that do something different, and this doesn’t, really. It’s frustrating, mainly because it’s eighteen dollars (or less depending on where you find it) and I think it’s not completely worth it, even though I enjoyed reading it. I’ve explained the difference between watching television and reading comics – I pay a lump sum for a lot of television channels, so the price to watch one individual show isn’t much. That’s why I can watch something like The Cape (to use a new show) and “turn my brain off” and just enjoy it – I don’t feel like I’m wasting money. If the few episodes of The Cape that have aired were single issues for $2.99 each or a graphic novel for 15 bucks, I would not recommend it at all. But it’s a fun distraction. Wynonna Earp is far better than The Cape (Smith’s dialogue is far better than anything on the show, and even the clichés of the genre are handled fairly well, plus anything with good art is better than cheesy special effects), but it’s still 18 bucks, and it’s akin to a two-part episode of a television show, probably. I hate to compare the two, but most people have to take into consideration the economics of a situation. With that in mind, I can tell you that Wynonna Earp is an enjoyable read, and I also have to point out it might not be completely worth the money you spend on it.
I know some people who read this never want me to take price into consideration and others want me to bring up price far more often. I don’t regret buying Wynonna Earp, because I’m less concerned with price than some people (I don’t see many movies, I don’t play video games, I don’t buy a lot of CDs or DVDs, so most of my disposable income goes to comics). It’s a fun way to kill some time, it has strong characters, it’s exciting, and it looks good. That it’s not something I think people will love may or may not bother you. It’s up to you!!!!!
Tomorrow: I’m done for now! I’m going to try to review bigger collections and graphic novels closer to when they come out, hence the end of “A review a day” – technically, I’ll still be doing reviews of single works and not the multi-comic posts I used to do, but “A review a day” implies one every day for a series of days, and that won’t be happening. So there you go!
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