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. As it’s now December, I will be examining the LAST pages of random comics, so watch out for SPOILERS! Today’s page is from Hulk/Wolverine: Six Hours #2, which was published by Marvel and is cover dated March 2003. Enjoy!
The indicia for this comic lists it as Incredible Hulk Vol. 1, No. 49, March 2003. None of that makes a lick of sense.
This four-issue mini-series is pretty good, as Bruce Jones does what he seems to do well – tell short, punchy stories that don’t stretch out over several years until resolving really poorly. So it’s like his first couple of arcs on The Incredible Hulk rather than the clusterfuck it later became! Meanwhile, Scott Kolins draws this, Lee Loughridge colors it, and Dave Sharpe letters it. I like to think that Loughridge’s presence on Marvel books when he’s so synonymous with DC books is another example of the great and slightly weird Bill Jemas era at Marvel, which is when this book came out. Feel free to disagree with me!
Jones has a pretty easy set-up: A couple of drug dealers are trying to … well, deal drugs, and they happen to take a hostage in the form of a bored teenager who just happened to get bit by a coral snake and has only a few hours – six, to be exact – to live. Meanwhile, Logan happens to be roaming the same woods, because it’s Canada and Canada, as we know, is so small that you’re always running across people you know, like when Logan happens to run across Bruce Banner, who knows the kid is dying and is trying to find him. Plus there’s a weird bad guy who Logan knows. BECAUSE LOGAN KNOWS EVERYONE IN THE MARVEL UNIVERSE!
At the end of this issue, the woman taking care of the teenager has drugged one of the drug dealers (KARMA, BITCHES!) and because he happened to be driving the RV in which they were traveling, they drove right off the road. This is the aftermath of their crash, as Jones makes sure to focus in on the bad guy’s watch – since the book is on the clock, there’s a lot of focusing on watches in the comic. Kolins designs the page well – because of the plume of smoke rising from the wreckage, horizontal panels just wouldn’t work as well, so we get nice vertical ones, getting smaller as the page moves on so that the watch in the final panel is more prominent. The smoke leads us from the left edge downward and to the right, which takes us to Panel 2, where we see the wreckage. Kolins again angles the page so that Whitie – the drugged bad dude – is closer to the right edge of the panel than the woman or the wreck. Kolins places the woman in the upper left of Panel 3, so that we can see it’s her and not the poisoned teenager, and he places the watch on the right side of the panel, half-obscured by the border. That leads to Panel 4, where we see the cracked watch and the time, 4.36 p.m. The kid will be dead at 6 p.m., so we don’t have much time! Kolins also draws a more prominent snowflake in the upper left of the panel (as well as showing the temperature on the watch), so in case we weren’t sure what those blue blobs in the first three panels were (especially because there’s absolutely no clouds in the sky), we’re supposed to realize that the situation is about to get a lot worse, because it’s starting to snow.
As simple as the page layout is, Kolins does a nice job with it to get quite a bit of information across without using words, which is always a nice thing in a visual medium like comics. Jones could have written something on this page, but the fact that he doesn’t makes it a bit more elegant and powerful. Good call, Mr. Jones!
Next: This is one of those comics that not a lot of people have read, but anyone who does falls instantly in love with it. So why don’t more people read it? That’s a mighty fine question. Find more tremendous comics in the archives!
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