Paper Girls #3 Review

Writer: Brian K. Vaughan / Artist: Cliff Chiang / Image Comics

In a genre that was never very inviting of women readers, teenage girl characters are killing the game. Think about that for a second – from Batgirl and Gotham Academy to creator-owned comics like Plutona and Paper Girls, we’re watching the comic industry’s reactiveness to their now female-majority audience, and it’s amazing to see. “Pandering to social justice warriors” is really turning out great. Who knew? There are some really awesome, unique female-led titles; minus many of the archetypes we’re otherwise accustomed to… and they’re selling. It’s a great time to be a nerd, folks.

And here comes Paper Girls, written by arguably the best comic book writer alive, offering exactly that: a wildly interesting girl-led title that has a higher level of character depth and creativity than most hero comics on the shelf.

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Typically by issue #3 of a series readers have a fair grasp of what to expect, but when you’re still lost in the woods yet want to keep reading? That’s when you know you have a great book in your hands. Vaughan and Chang are doing an excellent job so far leading along this very, very strange journey, and we trust them not because their reputations for great work (okay, that probably has something to do with it), but because it’s crazy entertaining in the short-term while it hooks us for the bigger mystery. And it’s pretty necessary their characters be thoughtful, dialog witty, and action surprises often, because really, nobody knows what the hell’s going on in the major story arc.

All we know is what the girls know, which includes an alcoholic stepmother, some pterodactyls, a few alien ninjas, and – I swear I’m sober but this reads like overheard conversations on the 1 train late at night. We’re in a mega world crisis, but we’re just jumping from one mini crisis to the next, trying to survive.

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And while I typically bristle at an all-male team writing women characters, or an all-white team writing black characters, or an all-Republican team writing non-fiction, Paper Girls is proving its depth, creativity, and thoughtfulness with each issue so far. I expect they keep it coming. This is an absolutely fun comic.

9.2 out of 10

Reading Paper Girls? Follow along with other reviews of the series here.

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  • Jordan Calhoun is a writer in New York City. His forthcoming debut book "Piccolo Is Black" is a celebration of the common adaptations we made while non-diverse pop culture helped us form identities. He holds a B.A. in Sociology and Criminal Justice, B.S. in Psychology with a minor in Japanese, and an M.P.A. in Public and Nonprofit Management and Policy. He might solve a mystery, or rewrite history. Find him on Instagram and Twitter @JordanMCalhoun

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