Paradox Girl #1 from Hana Comics presents a very fresh and original comic book; an interesting, original premise, written with smart wit, brimming with energy, and seamlessly illustrated.
Written by the remarkably fresh and talented Cayti Elle Bourquin, illustrated by Yishan Li (whose long list of work has included Batwoman and Blue Beetle for DC and various Manga projects), and edited/produced by Peter Bensley, publisher Georgina Bensley is also the woman behind Hanako Games, whose titles include ‘Long Live The Queen’ and the detective management game ‘Black Closet’.
‘Paradox Girl’ itself is a hell of a cool, witty name for a comic (and hero); her mentor also has a spot-on name for wit (‘Axiom Man’) and ‘Cityopolis’ should bring a smirk to any comic-book lover’s face. This same wit and easy cool characterises the majority of the book, with an effortless likability factor from the start, largely stemming from a winning premise and from writer Cayti Bourquin’s discernible affection for her creation.
PG #1, or ‘A Day in the Life of a Paradox’ is pretty infectious stuff from the get-go. It’s fair to say that any comic that starts with the question ‘Do you know what happens when you violate temporal causality?’ is a comic most of us can probably get along with. ‘By definition – nothing’, Paradox Girl’s inner monologue tells us, answering that question; and revealing right away that she has a cavalier attitude towards time-travel.
Our protagonist is literally a girl without a definable past; because she has already interfered with her own past so much and so casually, resulting in a kind of tolerated chaos that she seems to be adjusted to in a laconic sort of way (but which no other hero – nor any of the rest of us – would be). This dynamic is pretty well depicted even in the Yishan Li’s cover art, which sets the tone effectively: a kind of subtle pandemonium met with a sort of casual exasperation.
What’s also particularly cool is that Paradox Girl doesn’t come to us with a typical origin story, but instead we have a rather nebulous sense of her – which is fine, because she also has a rather nebulous sense of herself. The PG we’re introduced to in Paradox Girl #1 has already gone back in time to meddle with her own past so many times that the actual truth of where and how things started has already become obscured. Even the character herself doesn’t seem know who she was or who she should be: hence her very cool name – she is literally a walking paradox.
A continually altering past also means a constantly changing future, and an erratic, unstable present. Yet Paradox Girl has a laconic, laid-back attitude towards it all, as if it isn’t worth the headache – this is no epitome of the archetypal ‘with great power comes great responsibility’ motif.
The way she interacts with other versions of herself so casually, her timeline criss-crossing like an out-of-control editing job, depicts an almost cavalier confusion that is uncommon in time-travel stories. From the start, we see Paradox Girl literally sharing a house with other versions of herself and interacting with them as if they were just standard house-mates. She has either become jaded over time or she always this nonchalant about it from the start; we don’t yet know which. But reading this made me naturally wonder what *I* would be like if I had the ability to move in time and alter my past in any way I wanted; I can’t imagine I would be very sensible about it either. I have a number of regrets – stuff would be getting altered a lot.
The story in PG #1 is partly non-linear, as befitting a story centered around a character who really doesn’t care for the laws of temporal causality. In fact it probably needs more than one read to properly get those nuances; and that’s a result of clever writing. Cayti Bourquin as a writer, and Paradox Girl as a character, are both breaking or bending the rules, illustrated by the way PG can shift from future to past by literally leaping to the previous page. It’s clever and quirky, like the character herself, and it gives the comic a spry, bouncy quality. Reading this, I can’t help but consider that PG would make a terrific TV series.
Alas, for now we are strictly talking about the comic; visit the official Paradox Girl site here to buy a copy or to sign up for updates. And you can support the Kickstarter campaign here (still a few days left) to ensure future issues can be made and the story can continue (you’ve got to check out the totally bad-ass cover for PG #2). And seriously, some of the reward options for PG backers on Kickstarter are properly awesome – and if that isn’t incentive enough to support a great idea in the hands of a talented writer, I don’t know what is.