Mini Comic Reviews: Paper Girls #3, Dark Knight 3 #1, Archie #4

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While DC Comics has not been selling as many books recently, and Marvel is dominating so many comic book discussions, we are still noting that it is the indie publishers we are following the most and DC has our superhero hearts for a number of books.  This month, we have decided to stick with Paper Girls in our discussions, but also to add Frank Miller and Brian Azzarello’s latest Dark Knight book and bring in the fourth issue of the Archie relaunch.

*Spoiler Warning*

Paper Girls #3 (Brian K Vaughn, Cliff Chiang, and Matt Wilson, Image Comics)

Paper Girls is quickly becoming one of our favorite books, maybe why we are following it in our reviews as much as we did with stellar recent Image Comics’ titles like Airboy.  The third issue continues the through story with our favorite paper girls as they discover what looks like an alien invasion.  It takes a turn towards the serious as they accidentally shoot one of their friends, and it is this sense of emergency that “drives”(we think we are clever) their moves next.  We are now meeting two distinct groups of possible aliens, one with their own symbolic language we have been seeing, and a second who seems to use a broken form of Old English.  It is here that we see that some my be friends, but we don’t know which ones, and it is going to take our main characters to make a decision.  All the way through the dialogue and characterization is sharp, and, as is common with Vaughn’s writing, this would make a perfect film adaptation.

The Dark Knight III: The Master Race #1 (Frank Miller, Brian Azzarello, Andy Kubert, DC Comics)

This has been one of the most fearfully anticipated books in recent years as it stands as the follow up to both the landmark The Dark Knight and the landmark failure, The Dark Knight Strikes Again.  Right from the beginning we are flooded with a sense of “media commentary” that is central to its storytelling, as well as a bit of confusion.  This is nowhere near as bad as it was with the second volume in the saga, but we still have to figure out what is going on.  Batman, who is believed to be dead, has yet to return, yet at the end we see that someone else may have taken his mask.  The Kubert art is stellar here, which is a wonderful standout after the visual disaster of Strikes Again.  It is hard to review this fully as it was enjoyable, but it is a slow start and with The Master Race being an eight-issue run we may need a couple more issues to really see if this has legs.  From the first step out the book seems to have an uncommon depth, but more focus and clarity is something that all of Miller’s more recent work needs.

Archie #4 (Mark Waid, Annie Wu, Archie Comics)

This is the fourth issue of the Archie relaunch, and the first issue after Fiona Staples left to return to Saga.  Annie Wu’s art is a wonderful addition, though it is hard not to miss Staples, and this issue feels more well rounded than the last.  Here we finally hear the story for the “lipstick incident” that we have been strung along for, and it was actually a nice bit of relationship discussion that felt warm and real.  The issue mainly focuses on Archie and Betty, but now that Veronica is in the picture this seems to be the major contention that will be happening for the early run of the series.  This book is just a reminder of how much quality has been put into the new Archie comics and that this franchise still has the ability to hold some charm.

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