Vaughan & Chiang's "Paper Girls" Builds a Familiar Yet Disconcerting World
“The parts that don’t matter hurt. It’s the places where it doesn’t hurt that the real damage is done.”
“Sounds like life.” (Simon Mawar, from The Gospel of Judas)
Kindt continues to unspool his tale to the reader with very little exposition, preferring instead that we just keep the hell up, please. I thought this issue was slightly better than the (pretty strong) first issue, mainly because we have a bit of the back story and Kindt seems a bit more focused – Meru and Bill, her new protector/handler/guy who will betray her at the first opportunity, are on the run from that dude on the cover and his partner, who are called “Immortals” because, well, they seem to be immortal. I know, huh? In the meantime, Meru wants to follow up on the clue she uncovered in issue #1, namely the connection between pottery in Mexico and pottery in Zanzibar. (Zanzibar is one of those superb exotic-sounding places, like Timbuktu, that writers love to use. Never mind the fact that Kindt seems to be using it to refer to an entire region or at least a country, when the prosaic Zanzibar is far less mystical than writers tend to imply. It’s still an awesome, “fictional” place to put into your stories.) We still have our strange narrator, but in this issue, we get more of the fact that Meru is simply playing a part, and the idea that everyone is an actor in this drama, while not unique, pushes this into slightly more freaky territory (I know, as if all the passengers on a plane getting amnesia wasn’t freaky enough). Meru’s confrontation with “Perrier” and the dude sitting in the café are the kinds of things I’m talking about – again, it’s not completely unique, but I love shit like that even though I rarely figure it out (see: fucking time travel movies). Kindt invites us along for a wacky ride, and I suppose it’s up to you whether you want to go there or not. As I wrote with regard to the first issue, Kindt has proven to me that he is able to keep these kinds of stories up in the air for a while before pulling it all together, so I trust him. You may not, of course!
Plus, I love the fact that the extra stuff adds a bit to this strange world of Mind MGMT. The fact that this feels like good world-building as opposed to some other examples of poor world-building makes me enjoy it even more. It’s always fun to see a creator bring in elements that aren’t necessarily needed in the main story but complement it so nicely. That’s the tiny sci-fi/fantasy nerd inside me, I guess (even though I’m not into science fiction and fantasy as much as many comics people) – I love a well-built world (hence my love of my old Atlas of Middle-Earth – that thing is awesome), and Kindt seems to be doing that with this comic.
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
One totally Airwolf panel:
Spencer is starting to do this kind of thing more often – hit us with a complete bombshell at the end of one issue, and then say, “Fuck you, suckers!” and tell a completely different story in the next issue. I certainly don’t mind it – as my enjoyment of this comic can attest – but I do think it’s fairly ballsy of him. It’s part of the reason why I think Morning Glories is good – Spencer is much more interested in the overall story, and he’s created a bunch of characters and feels the need to check in on them, so that’s what he’s going to do! So we shift our focus to Georgina and Lara, the two sisters who run the academy (well, Georgina runs it, and Lara seems to have an important position within it) and their problems with their mysterious father, about whom we’ve heard a bit but haven’t seen yet (unless we have but we don’t know he’s the father yet). Spencer explores their sibling pseudo-rivalry (it never gets too bad) as they grow up, and then he drops yet another bombshell on us when Lara is visited by a stranger in the night. What’s fascinating about the comic is that even as Spencer is dropping yet another “everything you knew is wrong!” revelation, it doesn’t feel contrived. Spencer has plotted this very well, so that it makes sense when we learn new things, and doesn’t make us go, “Wait, that doesn’t work at all! Whaaaaaaa!”
I keep coming back to Eisma’s art, because it’s fun to point out yet again that he drew 32 pages of an essentially monthly book (20 issues in 23 months, which ain’t bad), but more than his ability to keep up, he is getting better at, you know, drawing. The panel where Georgina staggers out of the greenhouse* is amazing, with her glazed eyes, tilted head, and ripped clothes speaking of a horror we don’t want to know about, much less experience. He’s gotten a lot better with faces, too, which is very important in a comic like this. And when Lara’s in the cave … well, it’s a brilliantly written and devastatingly drawn scene, although I wonder how Lara got the rock. It just magically appears in her hand! Still, it’s a great scene.
As we’ve seen for a while, once Spencer got the assembling of the cast out of the way, he can write a gripping comic book. This is just another example of it!
* I totally space on the word “greenhouse” to describe a glass-sided structure in which plants grow. Just a brain fart, I guess, but I actually had to Google it. Man, I’m old.
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
One totally Airwolf panel:
Rocketeer Adventures 2 #4 (of 4). “War Hero” by Louise Simonson (writer), Walter Simonson (penciler), Bob Wiacek (inker), Jordie Bellaire (colorist), and John Workman (letterer); “Cliff Secord, Warlord of Blargon” by David Mandel (writer), J. Bone (artist/colorist), and Shawn Lee (letterer); “Fair Game” by John Byrne (writer/artist), J. Bone (colorist), and Neil Uyetake (letterer). $3.99, 24 pgs, FC, IDW.
Issue #3 of this series was disappointing, but luckily, the final issue is back on track. With a Simonson joint, it would be hard not to be, but the Simonson/Simonson story isn’t even the best one in this issue. It’s beautiful, of course, and exciting, although once again Cliff has big problems with his rage, and at least Betty calls him out a bit. Honestly, the more people write Cliff, the douchier he gets, and I don’t know why every single writer feels the need to write him this way. It’s not charming douchebag, either, like Damian Wayne al-Ghul – it’s obnoxious douchebag. Cliff wants to fight in WWII, but because he’s a low-life thief, he was rejected as 4-F (he was classified as a “douchebag,” which is kind of surprising considering the time period!) and assigned to a fund-raising tour with Betty. Now, for some reason Cliff would rather be overseas getting malaria in the Pacific or contracting an STD from an Italian whore rather than staying at home banging Betty, but that’s really his problem, isn’t it? Of course there are Nazi saboteurs to stop, and of course Cliff does, and of course President Roosevelt lets Cliff off the hook for his thievery and grants him the privilege of going off to get his head shot off. Yay! I hope Mark Waid addresses Cliff’s douchebaggery in the new mini-series that’s coming out, because it’s really annoying.
The best story, however, is David Mandel and J. Bone’s, in which Cliff is trying to make a dinner date with Betty but is accidentally (?) zapped to another planet. The humor in the story stems from the fact that Cliff doesn’t understand a word of what the aliens (well, I guess he’s the alien) are saying, so while it appears like a fun Adam Strange story, it’s really something much darker (in a very funny way). It also shows what a douchebag Cliff is in a way that doesn’t reward him … or at least not too much.
Byrne’s story is perfectly fine, although I’m not sure what the significant of June 10th is. I thought it was something to do with the person who was targeted and the person who was doing the targeting, but I suppose it’s just the fact that Cliff realizes that the target is actually in New York on that day. Anyway, it’s a nice little tale.
So this is quite a fine issue, even if I hate Cliff a bit more each time I read about him. Betty should kick him in the shins and take up with Greer Garson. That would be a plot twist, wouldn’t it?
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆
One totally Airwolf panel:
David decides not to get too much mileage out of the whole “someone is killing people in a way very much like Theresa” storyline, as it began last issue and finishes this issue. It’s actually one of the few criticisms I have of David’s X-Factor – I don’t mind that he resolves things quickly, but they occasionally feel like place-holding stories, as in this issue, the reason for the “real” banshee showing up is extremely petty (which doesn’t invalidate the story, because so much of literature revolves around pettiness, but it does make the banshee feel less “important,” I guess), her threat is ended in a weirdly easy way, and it’s even really easy for Theresa to find out what’s going on. I think this would have been fine as a three-part story – it still wouldn’t have been too long, and David could have made the threat a bit more, you know, threatening.
We do get a nice scene in which Guido asks Monet out on a date, and it reminds me why X-Factor and Avengers Academy are two of the three Marvel books I’m still reading in single issues – they feel old-school because both David and Gage continue to show that superheroes have lives outside of beating up bad guys. Guido’s attempts to explain to Monet why his not having a soul is a good thing even though she thinks it’s abhorrent is nicely done, and it will be interesting to see how this relationship plays out.
Davidson is fine, although he does better work on the banshee portion, when he can dazzle with pyrotechnics, than he does on the quieter moments. He has a common problem with artists – his teenaged girl looks too adult – and one drawing of Monet has her with weirdly drooping breasts – she’s young, fit, and wearing spandex, yet her breasts still do that? Bizarre. Overall, though, while I’m not sure Davidson is perfect for this comic, it’s still good artwork. X-Factor usually has good artists, after all!
David is leading up to a big story arc, but I’m not sure if it begins next issue. Still, this remains a fine read, month in and month out (or I should say two weeks in and two weeks out, since it’s being shipped so damned often!).
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ½ ☆ ☆
One totally Airwolf panel:
Beauty and the Beast by James Shooter (writer), Frank Springer (penciler), Vince Colletta (inker), Christie Scheele (colorist), John Morelli (letterer), Ann Nocenti (writer), Don Perlin (penciler), Kim DeMulder (inker), George Roussos (colorist), Petra Scotese (colorist), Joe Rosen (letterer), Jim McCann (writer), David López (penciler), Alvaro López (inker), Emily Warren (colorist), and Jeff Eckleberry (letterer). $29.99, 178 pgs, FC, Marvel.
DAZZLER!!!!!! Need I say more? I now own two different reprints of Dazzler the Movie. I may not be the Internet’s biggest Dazzler fan (I might be, but I doubt it), but I still love Ms. Blaire. Seriously, when I write the X-Men (call me, Joey Q!), my core team will be Rogue, Psylocke, Dazzler, Storm, Jubilee, Longshot, and Forge. Damn straight. You’d read it, fanboys!
I didn’t order this out of Previews, but my retailer got a copy and read a good deal of it and loved it, and while I don’t trust him completely, he does have pretty good taste, and when I flipped through this, it seemed pretty good. We shall see! It’s about a computer hacker, by the way, which is why I passed on it – I feared it might be too “inside baseball,” but my retailer said that was not so. Now I’m curious!
I don’t have much on my mind this week, so I’ll spare you my ramblings. As I mentioned last week, I’m off to Pennsylvania in the morning on a jet plane, and then I’m going to New York on Friday and Saturday, so that should be fun. I’ll be on the Internets all next week, but I will only be commenting on posts that I already have scheduled (my daily ones). So my weekly review post won’t exist next week, because I won’t get my comics from the 11th until at least the 16th. I’ll probably just combine the next two weeks.
Meanwhile, it’s Independence Day here in the U.S., and everyone in the world ought to be celebrating, because WE’RE MOTHERFUCKING NUMBER ONE, MOTHERFUCKERS!!!! I’ve never gotten into Independence Day too much, although I don’t have anything against celebrating our independence. I just don’t care about constructs like “countries” too much. I mean, it’s nice that we kicked out the snotty British and their tea-drinking ways – honestly, water filtered through leaves is your national drink? – but it’s not like the British were really oppressing the Americans all that much. I’m just happy we decided to spell words correctly thanks to the Revolution. Come on, Britishers, r-before-e? An extra “u”? What’s that all about? Happy Fourth of July to everyone who likes celebrating it, though. U!S!A!
I choose to celebrate with the The Ten Most Recent Songs On My iPod (Which Is Always On Shuffle):
1. “Memories Can’t Wait” – Living Colour1 (1988) “I’m here flat on my back – never work up, had no regrets”
2. “All I Want Is You” – U2 (1988) “You say you want your love to work out right, to last with me through the night”
3. “Charting The Single” – Marillion “Stockpile experience before the blond hairs turn the grey”
4. “Exit” – U2 (1987) “So hands that build can also pull down”
5. “Fiesta” – Pogues (1988) “He whispers in this one’s ear, ‘Will you kindly kill that doll for me’ “
6. “Arc Of The Curve” – Fish (2007) “If love is blind then I will never see again”
7. “Stand By My Woman” – Lenny Kravitz (1991) “There were times I wouldn’t hold your hand”2
8. “Out On The Town” – fun. (2012) “But these days when I wake up from a night I forgot I just wish that it never came true”3
9. “We’re In This Together” – Nine Inch Nails (1999) “The two of us, all used and beaten up”
10. “No Sign Of Yesterday” – Men At Work (1983) “I can’t hear you calling, I can’t hear you anymore”4
1 Speaking of spelling things incorrectly …
2 I like this song (and the album), but it cracks me up when dudes sing songs about how they used to be tools but now they’re really, really not. Maybe you shouldn’t have been a tool in the first place, Lenny!
3 I haven’t gotten around to reviewing this album yet, but it’s phenomenal. Seriously. Go buy it now!
4 The saxophonist for Men At Work, Greg Ham, died in April. He was only 58.
I totally forgot to do some Totally Random Lyrics last week. I count on you people to keep me honest with that shit! So here we go, peeps!
“Honey, you know it makes you mad
Why is everybody tellin’ everybody
What you have done
Baby, I know it makes you sad
But when they’re handin’ out the heartaches
You know you got to have you some”
You know it, you love it, so sing along!
Have a nice weekend, everyone! Spend some time in the sunshine!
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