Ethan lives in Pennystown, a small rural community, and he’s not great at picking up on signals from women, although he’s a master of misinterpreting them. Driving home after one especially embarrassing night he almost runs down a naked woman in the middle of the road. She doesn’t say much, and is obviously distressed, so Ethan takes her to his house. It’s a fair bet that no new reader is going to have the faintest clue where brothers Joshua and Jonathan Luna take their story from there.

Ethan’s blowout is a clever way of introducing many of Pennystown’s inhabitants in one go, which is needed for what happens over the following three volumes. Knowing what the residents are like feeds into how they behave when the screw is turned. By midway Ethan, former girlfriend Taylor and Deputy Sheriff Wes have witnessed considerable strangeness, all hell has broken loose, and the work put in establishing people earlier pays off. Don’t ignore the chapter-separating map either, which places people’s homes in context.

Both script and art are shared between the brothers, and creating distinctive looking people isn’t a strength, so differentiation is via accessories like hairstyles, glasses and clothing. That’s enough though, and the various personalities combine for a viable community who know each other well, idiosyncrasies and all, with some secrets not as concealed as hoped. Ethan’s poor attitude to women is a flaw, but a number of others run through the community, and the language used reflects ignorance in some cases, which won’t sit well with everyone. However, not everyone in your neighbourhood is as enlightened as you, right?

It doesn’t start out that way, but by the time Conception leads into Emergence, Girls has become a very creative toying with horror, infusing SF tones, making good use of the title, and giving Ethan a guilty secret he’ll have to carry forward.

If preferred, all four paperback volumes of Girls are collected in a hardcover presenting the entire story.