Paper Girls Volume 2 picks up right where the first one left off and focuses on character development above all else. There’s giant maggots and pterodactyls too obviously, but it’s the more grounded, human moments which shine through this time around.
Having bumped into her future self at the end of the last issue, Erin spends a lot of the issue coming to terms with the grim face of adulthood. I’m sure we’ve all asked the question of what our younger selves would make of our lives at this point. The contrast between the optimistic and headstrong child-Erin and the weathered, meandering adult version is a wonderful dynamic and one which drives the story on this time around. The group split up early on, with the Erins going off to find clues on KJ’s whereabouts while the other girls go to find the older versions of themselves.
A lot of the heart comes from the girls’ reaction to 2016 America, gawping in awe at the large TV exclaiming “Do we win the lottery!”. These smaller moments are fast becoming the defining aspect of Paper Girls. In the mess and extravagance of the over-arching lore, its the characters which keep the series grounded. That’s not to say there isn’t great action this time around because trust me, there absolutely is. Upon the arrival of a THIRD Erin, things quickly take a turn for the zany. She accidentally drags through two giant microscopic beasties which proceed to battle to the death over the city. There’s also a moment when an airship comes blasting through a portal. All of these massive set pieces give the proceedings a sense of lunacy. Thanks to the art style, which might even be even better this time around, every panel pops with energy and movement. The character designs are really coming into their own and stand out even when things get crazy.
The most important revelation this time comes not from a time travelling heroine or crazy future-Apple devices but from Mac. She finds out that she is actually dead by 2016 after apparently suffering from leukaemia. This scene forces a child to come to terms with her own morality and puts the question of whether the future is set in stone or if time can in fact be altered. Her reaction is textbook Mac, putting on a apathetic attitude to the whole thing. It’s clear though that this revelation is weighing heavily on her mind though so it will be interesting to see how she handles it.
The way the final issue ends hints at what is to come and suggests that yes, people are worshipping technology to some extent in the future. The girls are reunited in a strange land on the final page so as to where the story goes next, your guess is as good as mine.
Paper Girls Volume 2 excels by focusing on its already endearing cast of characters. There’s the same problems with the shotgun blast of influences which the series is using but it is becoming clear that the lore and adventure starts and ends with the paper girls. Volume 2 raises all of the right questions and leaves much to discover later down the line.