Paradox Girl: First Cycle
Peter Bensley (editor), Cayti Elle Bourquin (writer), Yishan Li (illustrator)
Top Cow Productions (originally published by Hana Comics)
May 29, 2019
Unless you’re a Gallifreyan, a Terminator, Cable, or Scott Bakula, messing around with time is a dangerous plot device. There are consequences to your every action, and keeping up with the canon will forever be a challenge for any writer. But Paradox Girl does away with all that hassle. She is a superhero with the ability to teleport through time and space. Her accuracy is perfect and her range is unlimited. She can change history and create paradoxes without ruining the space time continuum. The only thing that stands in her way is, literally, herself.
Paradox Girl doesn’t care much for the consequences of her whims—from satisfying cravings for waffles, to figuring out how to beat an unbeatable monster—but she does have to come face-to-face with herself on a regular basis. This is the only real consequence that tends to throw her for a loop from time to time, but by the end of each chapter, she’s already moved on to the next challenge.
Readers who are used to trying to suss out the convoluted canon of too many of our mainstream faves will either love or hate this book. PG’s very existence pokes fun at and holes in the serious attempts those stories make to follow canon or retcon it to suit whatever time travel mishap has been inserted into the plot. Paradox Girl blithely approaches this oft-overused plot device with quiet, unaffected humour. Bourquin, who freely admits that there’s not exactly an order in her scripted chaos, fully expects that readers will need to read things through two or three times to catch all the details. In fact, Li confesses that she has to read Bourquin’s scripts two or three times before she can set to work.
But the end result is wonderful, amusing, and sometimes very touching fun. Li’s illustrations capture Paradox Girl’s lighthearted and expressive determination. Whatever PG’s goals, she gives herself wholly to achieving her purpose. Each of Li’s panels contains just enough details to deliver Bourquin’s message before PG is hopping off to yet another moment in time. Dialogue doesn’t dominate the pages, with some pages relying solely on site gags and queues. Li is able to convey all of the meaning and humour Bourquin intends, seemingly with ease.
Each of the stories is self-contained, so readers can hop in at any time. From dealing with a pesky visitor, to stopping her partner’s murder, to discovering what time means to those who can’t wield it as a tool, but use it in other, more powerful ways, Paradox Girl is actually offers a lot deeper meaning than it might seem, even as the main character flits from moment to moment.
The Paradox Girl: First Cycle trade collects the first six issues of a comic that came to life via a very successful Kickstarter. It’s an opportunity to reach an even broader audience—and it’s most definitely working. I missed the first go-round with the Kickstarter, but I am instantly enamoured with this new hero and absolutely want more and more and more and more and more and more.