Ah, time travel, a concept familiar to the comics medium, but rarely mastered. Never fear; Brian K Vaughan is here. The much-celebrated writer has penned hits from Y: The Last Man and Saga to Lost and the Under The Dome adaptation.
Saga alone could secure his position as king of the space opera, but with Paper Girls he turns his eye squarely back to the realm of sci-fi and the year of 1988. Paper girl Erin sets out on her Ohio town route as a flickering comet streaks through the sky. Hassled by bullies and rescued by a ragtag posse of fellow paper girls, the gang end up in the middle of a mind-melting adventure.
Strange, alien-looking men steal a prized walkie-talkie, and the girls chase them down to a distinctly alien-looking contraption in an abandoned basement. As the air begins to fill with unbearable noise, the girls exit to a world filled with flying dinosaurs, missing people and a time war between equally unintelligible peoples. Pinging through time, the gang are caught between trying to stay together and dealing with their multiple selves. And just what does that apple icon they find mean?
Erin and friends are far from the dumb protagonists who usually stumble around time-travel stories wondering what is going on. Quick to put two and two together, and using their known pop-culture touchstones, the girls recognise the truth of their situation and take it all in stride – as any group of 12-year olds would.
Chiang (Wonder Woman) tears into the retro feel with gusto, using bold graphics and colours to make this complex tale utterly readable even for those who are brand new to comics. The gang look utterly at home in the Eighties, from sneakers and hairstyles to their packet of smokes.
Coming across as War Of The Worlds meets Stand By Me via Back To The Future, the first volume is already a double winner for Best New Series at both the Eisner and Harvey awards.