Released: May 1st 2006
The saga for Y: the Last Man continues in Paper Girls, leaving us with just three volumes after this (I still have no idea how they’re going to end the series, let alone in that timeframe). On the bright side, the creative team has stayed the same throughout, so the series has been mercifully consistent. At the current point in the series we’re about three years past ‘the event’ where all the men (minus Yorick, Ampersand, and the astronauts) died out. It’s hard to believe it’s been so long in the series, but then again I’m binge reading them, perhaps if I was reading them as it came out this would be less of a shock to me?
This volume was probably the weakest of the set so far, and believe me, I hate having to say that. It’s more a collection of short stories, some are flashbacks for us to learn more about the characters, while others are more like trying up loose ends. On the whole it’s a little underwhelming and a bit disorienting (jumping back and forth between timelines is never fun – clearly I could never be a Time Lord. Shame). On the bright side, many of the loose ends that have been bothering me in previous volumes actually get cleaned up here, which is refreshing.
The first story is probably the only one here that directly advances the plot; Yorick finally makes it to Australia, and he’s even given a bit of time to go searching for Beth. Unfortunately because of a series of unfortunate events (the phrase, not the novels), not only does Yorick not end up finding Beth, but he also finds himself naked on a tabloid. So…there’s that? While Yorick seemed to take this news in stride, I personally would be really upset about being photographed without my permission (under duress to boot) and then have said photo shared worldwide. But then, Yorick has never really been the brightest bulb in the bunch, has he?
Then there’s a short story about 355 and her training. This one is insanely short, and while it may be useful later in the series, all it did here was interrupt the story about Yorick in Australia, which was frustrating. Meanwhile Dr. Mann is finally getting some sort of joy in her life, it’s almost cute (except of course we’re told it isn’t, because heaven forbid something goes right for any of these characters).
Then we’re back to Beth. The one he slept with, not the fiancé. Confusing, no? She’s…well I’ll let you read it. But the plot revolving around her and Hero (oh yeah, apparently Hero’s here, did I forget to mention that?) is a little funny and a little absurd. I’m not really sure how I feel about the whole thing to be honest.
And then there’s yet another story shift, where they’re running from a bunch of cannibals. I honestly don’t even know where this one fits in on the timeline, but apparently it was enough to cause a flashback for 355? Clearly the girl has some issues, if seeing a pack of lady cannibals gives her flashbacks.
The last story in this volume (see, I told you there was a lot of them) is about Ampersand, which was actually pretty cool. This was my favorite of this weird series of short stories, and it actually gave us some answers – like how Ampersand is immune – sort of. We’re given the general idea, but not the specifics. Also, irony, we’re introduced to two lazy men, whom if they hadn’t been so lazy and cleaned up Ampersand’s shit themselves, they might have survived. I’m sure that was an intentional point on the creator’s part.
So on the whole this wasn’t my favorite in the series, though the Ampersand story alone made it worthwhile for me. It was nice to have some of the loose ends tied up too, though obviously we still have a long way to go on that front. Hopefully Kimono Dragons makes more progress in the plot than this one did.