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 Left on Mission #4, which was published by Boom! Studios and is cover dated September 2007. Enjoy!
Left on Mission is a spy thriller, and it’s quite a good one. It’s an early Francavilla work, but you can see how good he already is, and Mosher’s story is a bit clichéd but has plenty of verve. Mosher doesn’t have a lot to do on this page, but we do get to know that Eric (that dude’s name is Eric) is in Morocco and that someone is waiting for him and even that he’s been there before. For a page with only seven words on it, that ain’t bad.
Francavilla’s pencil work is always strong, and while his layout on this page isn’t superb, it still works well. We get the establishing shot inside the hotel, and Francavilla gives us such details that Mosher might not even have to tell us we’re in Morocco. The details in the hotel and the dudes actually wearing fezzes (in Fes? quelle surprise!) might be enough, especially with the details on the rest of the page. Later on, Eric and Painter (the other dude’s name is Painter) talk about being in Fes, so who knows if Mosher even needs to put the first narrative box in there. Francavilla sets the scene throughout the page, with the detailed work on the door in Panel 2 and the architecture in the background of Panels 3-5. As Eric moves outside, Francavilla shows him from behind, so when Painter comes up behind him, it feels as if someone is approaching even though we’re looking at static images. The shadows on Eric’s back in Panel 4 hint that someone is behind him, and then Eric turns to look back himself. Panel 5 gives us Painter on the left, with the credits over his back, and his word balloon leads us to Eric, who, even though he’s turned away from the right side, presumably stopping the flow of the page, is smoking, which means the smoke helps lead us off the page. The cigarette is always useful in pop culture because it’s loaded with symbolism, but in this case, it actually assists the artwork. Martin Thomas, the colorist, wisely gives Eric and Painter blue clothing, which helps them stand out in the drab brown of the Moroccan desert.
This might not be the most exciting first page, but if you missed the first three issues, Mosher and Francavilla give us stuff to ponder as we decide if we’re interested in this sucker. Who is the smoking dude? Why is he in Morocco? Who’s the mysterious dude talking to him? All of this is on this page, which makes it intriguing if not completely dazzling. And it has Francavilla artwork. Why wouldn’t you want to read it????
Next: A very funny and clever recent Marvel comic. Yes, they do exist! You can probably even find some in the archives!
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