Paradox Girl is a Kickstarter project that I backed off the recommendation of one of the hosts of the War Rocket Ajax podcast. Written by Cayti Elle Bourquin, drawn primarily by Yishan Li and edited by Georgina Bensley, none of whom I have ever heard of before, Paradox Girl (PG) is a young woman with the ability to travel through space and time at will. She uses this power to fight crime, but also to buy a defunct brand of waffles from the 80s, hang out with herself and even put off chores to an eternally ‘later’ version of herself. Her rather unique existence gives her partner Axiom Man and anybody else she meets headaches because she simply does not view existence in the same linear fashion they do.
Overall, this is a very fun, very charming book that does a lot of things really well. I found the tone of the book to be a bit lighter and airy than I would have liked though. The first issue does a good job of laying out her existence and what makes it weird, but from than its often just sight gags or complicated uses of her powers to pull off an elaborate joke or visual pun. None of that is bad really, writer Bourquin is really quite good at it these kinds of jokes, and the artists do a great job of making all the time jumping make sense, but it also leaves the reader wanting just a tad more than we are given. I don’t need brooding Batman or sad sack Daredevil but I did need a bit more than what I got. The first issue talks about how she doesn’t even know her own past anymore because she has gone back and changed it so fundamentally, and her almost complete inability to effectively communicate with others are both really interesting ideas. Since her past is ever changing and she can just go to her future (ONLY, it’s not her future since even her future is always changing. Right? -sigh-, time travel), she lives in the present moment completely, even if that present is only the present for her and might be taking place in 1850 or the 7th century, her personality is a bit odd; no self-control, no impulse control, she doesn’t even know how to plan ahead (Issue #6), and she has no problem jumping back into time to fix your problems, even if you didn’t ask her to, which she does in issue #4, which tells the story of an old man at the end of his life and PG jumps around his life seeing all the important moments of it while he tells her his story. That story ends with her dressing for a funeral, only it’s not his funeral she’s attending but rather his birth. Honestly, I’m not entirely sure what the creators mean by this moment, other than her unique take on life, but I found it poignant and powerful and I wish the other issues I read had more of that.
PG has a nice look to her; while wearing a pretty sexy outfit, she never feels objectified and the book never comes close to striking that tone. While a lot of the backgrounds and panel layouts are a tad simple, they still are very well done and professional looking. The visual storytelling is top notch and it has to be because writer Bourquin laces almost every page with multiple PA’s doing a whole host of things. Some are from the ‘past’ while others are from the ‘future’ and they all turn in and around each other to help tell the story. Like I mentioned above, the sequential aspect of comics has rarely been more important. If the reader is not able to track what PG is doing the jokes and humor simply do not work. Tracking her across the page and through the book is actually a bit tricky and the book expects you to go with its flow and does not do much to hold your hand. Not that its extremely tricky, just that you better pay attention. It also helps to flip through the book a couple of times while reading it, so you can remember what different versions of PG are going and where they must land in her personal timeline because somehow the creative team juggles all of them really well and it works out and makes sense by the end of each issue.
All in all, Paradox Girl is a really odd, really fun series of stories that all tell, charming, funny stories that play with time travel in a pretty believable way; the creators’ grasp of their time travel mechanics and rules is very consistent throughout the issues, which is all any reader can expect from a time travel story. It’s all a bit more lighthearted than what I usually read, it’s still plenty of fun. I think it would be a perfect book for a teenager or even preteen to explore and read over and over. Check it out.