"Paradox Girl": For the Girl Who is Everything
Paradox Girl is a superheroine whose power is time travel. She has done it so many times in her own timeline that she doesn't even have a beginning or end any more. There are so many of her past and future selves littered about that they're tripping over each other. She causes as much trouble as she solves. The girl can't help it.
This series reminded me of a French graphic novel from 2005 called "The Six-Hundred-and-Seventy-Six Apparitions of Killoffer" by Killoffer. That was a largely wordless story about a slob in a suit who encounters multiple versions of himself that keep fighting and killing each other. It was very existential in that French kind of way.
Paradox Girl is a lighter female take on similar existential themes, shot through the filter of time-travelling superhero comedy. Paradox Girl is about dressing up, about role-play, play-acting. It's about selfhood and identity. Paradox Girl is in constant conflict with her other selves. Some of them get along, some of them don't. They're not all the same. They don't all do the same thing.
Cayti Bourquin has created a character that lets her tell virtually any kind of story she wants. She can write about Paradox Girl trying to get a good night's sleep but her other selves keep interrupting. Or Paradox Girl trying to correct temporal anomalies she caused earlier and later. Or how much a superhero's carelessness can mess up innocent bystanders' lives. One story can be about Paradox Girl listening to a grieving old man's story about the love of his life and become a part of his history. Another issue is a satire of spy and detective thrillers on board a runaway train where every character – the detective, the spy, the femme fatale, the suspects, the villains – are all another version of her.
Artist Yishun Li deserves credit for making the art look easy. It's not. Li has a light touch and deft hand at facial expressions and body language. She imbues Paradox Girl a personality that's funny, whimsical and likable. There is nothing generic or cookie-cutter about Li's manga-inflected art. And her ability to draw Bourquin's complex and complicated scripts with such clear storytelling is amazing. She is an artist with an extremely bright career ahead of her.
Imagine a wildly overactive Instagram feed as a person and you get Paradox Girl. The series is a rampage through tropes, images and genre clichés. It's about female empowerment and the fluidity of gender roles and identity, and how everyone is free to choose who they want to be.
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