Paper Girls #5 Review

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

What are we even talking about here? Paper Girls, while full of trademark comedy and well-built moments from Vaughan, is beginning to stretch the amount of goodwill it was afforded and, in all honesty, issue #5 is as bad an issue I could expect from such a prolific writer. That isn’t to say it was a bad issue by comic book standards, but it was a bad issue for our expectations – it’s Steph Curry shooting a 35% game.

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Issue #5 adds space travel and time travel as a creative if not gutsy attempt to hook readers, yet succeeds only to its detriment to an audience of readers who were already hooked. To make it worse this issue does little to advance the characters, jerking the story around instead and avoiding any substantive focus on any particular character. In short, it pumped the brakes on its effective character development and hit the gas so hard on plot development that it risks flying off the rails.

There were bright moments of dialogue though, as well as well-done tie-ins to previous issues that sort of set the boundaries of the town Paper Girls lives in. We see familiar places that the girls have traveled to on bike and on foot, and the comic has done well setting the scope of the neighborhood, like playing a video game and remembering where you saw the old piece of information that you remember to be important. The world is well built and the time travel well thought out; Chiang’s art continues to supplement the freaky retro setting and the sequentials lend themselves great to every build up and payoff.

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What are we talking about here? When it comes to the mystery I really don’t know, but that’s really not the point. The fact this issue made me, for the first time, not care very much – that’s the point. And thought that’s usually disconcerting as a fan, this is a Hall of Famer we’re talking about, and I’m not very worried. There won’t be two bad games in a row, and if this is the lowest this series gets, it’s a damn great series to read.

7.2 out of 10

Reading Paper Girls? Catch up on previous reviews 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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