Paper Girls volume 3: the all-girl, time-traveling Stranger Things gets even better

In Paper Girls, the celebrated comics creator Brian K Vaughan (Saga, Y: The Last Man, etc) teams up with Cliff Chiang to tell a story that's like an all-girl Stranger Things, with time-travel.

The first two volumes of the story held out enormous promise and ended on a brutal cliffhanger.

I just picked up Volume 3 at Comic-Con from the Image Comics booth and basically inhaled it.

The story's now taking place across multiple timelines, with deep mysteries, awesome eyeball-kick images, and enough action to fuel three tales. Telling you anything more about it would be a giant spoiler, so instead, here's the meat of my review of books one and two, to which I add: it gets even better.

Paper Girls stars an all-girl cast of newspaper delivery kids for a fictional Cleveland newspaper, circa 1988 — they are instantly and wholeheartedly likable, like the Goonies or the cast of Stranger Things. They convene on November 1, when the mean teenagers of Cleveland are still out an about and making mischief, picking on the likes of them, and they band together in mutual self-defense.

Then things get weird.

The girls are assaulted by a group of costumed teens, who rip off a Radio Shack walkie-talkie that one of them saved for months to buy. The girls chase down these goons, ending up in a partially built house, whose basement holds a spaceship of some kind, or maybe it's a time-machine — and after a flash and a bang, they emerge to a transformed neighborhood, overcast with a tornado out of which flap huge, monstrous dinosaurs ridden by lance-wielding, argot-speaking warriors who kill and kidnap all they meet.

Before long, the girls are hurled into a mystery tale of Vaughnian complexity, chased through time and space, meeting ambiguous heroes and villains, including several who may be clones of them — or older versions, or neither.

There are more cliff-hangers than issues in these two collections. I read both yesterday and my mind is fizzing with theories. Knowing how Vaughan works, I may have to wait a long time to find out whether my theories are right, but at least I can assume that when there's no new Paper Girls to read, I'll be able to pick up a Saga.

Paper Girls Volume 3 [Brian K Vaughan, Cliff Chiang, Jared K. Fletcher and Matthew Wilson/Image]