Vaughan & Chiang's "Paper Girls" Builds a Familiar Yet Disconcerting World
Every day this year, I will be examining the first pages of random comics. Today’s page is from Generation X #66, which was published by Marvel and is cover dated August 2000. Enjoy!
When I first opened this page, I was surprised to see the splash page. It’s been a few years since I read this comic, and as it’s gotten weirder and weirder to see a splash page on the first page which doesn’t really have anything to do with the story but just serves as an introduction to the characters, even a book released in 2000 seems wildly old-fashioned. But such is the fickle hand of fate!
You’ll notice that Brian Wood, the writer (from Warren Ellis’ plot) doesn’t have much to do on this page. We get the boilerplate introduction to the team, the credits, and the synopsis of what’s been going on – Gen. X has discovered the secret lair of an organization that locks up school kids, and they’re riding to the rescue, with Jubilee as team leader. That’s it, that’s all.
Pugh is a good artist, so let’s consider the splash page. In the back is Chamber, and Pugh makes it clear that he’s a bit … strange. We might not be sure what’s going on with his face, but Pugh gives him a lower jaw with some definition, making it clear that it definitely is his face on fire and not something else. In front of him stands Jubilee, and Pugh makes her Asian, which is hit or miss with her portrayal over the years. The lollipop in her mouth serves as a signifier that she’s a bit iconoclastic – she’s leading a rescue team but she still has time to suck on a lollipop. She points both toward the reader, as if ordering us to stay still and read the damned book, and also to draw our eye to her three teammates, which her fingers point toward. Monet, on the left, also looks like her ethnicity would indicate, something else that has been hit-or-miss over the years. In comics, short hair on females tends to indicate tom-boy-ishness (not always, of course, but often), so Pugh is letting us know that Jubilee is the tomboy of the group while Monet and Husk are more “girly” (they can both kick ass, of course – that’s not what I’m talking about). Husk looks bizarre only because she’s silver – it’s not clear if she’s even human, but she still looks tough. Skin, on the right, doesn’t look Hispanic only because he’s gray, but Pugh gives him menacing horns, which is a nice touch. Pugh makes sure that everyone is looking at the reader, as if daring them to turn the page. For a splash page, he leads the eye fairly well – from Chamber to Jubilee, then from Monet to Husk to Skin, taking us to the edge of where we need to turn the page.
It’s interesting that Wood chose to begin the book this way – “Counter X” was done to stave off cancellation, so perhaps Wood thought people needed to be introduced to the team right away. It’s a nice drawing, certainly, but any tricks Wood, Ellis, and Pugh pulled weren’t enough, as the book didn’t last too long after this. So sad!
Next: STERANKO!!!!!! ‘Nuff said. But that doesn’t mean you should skip looking at the archives, now does it?
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.