In the lead-up to Young Liars ending on September 2 with issue 18, I will be rereading the 17 issues already out and discussing them at a rate of one issue per day. I haven’t reread any of these comics since they came out, so it should be fun. Spoilers, of course. Let’s dance!
Young Liars #12, “The Spiders from Mars (Part 2),” by David Lapham is the twin to issue seven’s “The Spiders from Mars (Part 1)” and also sets the stage for the final six months of the comic. But, first, I allow Past Chad to drop some knowledge on us via my CBR review of the issue:
Picking up immediately after last issue’s shocking revelation, Danny Noonan is at a hospital after setting himself on fire and is told that everything we think happened in the previous 11 issues is just a delusion of his. His baby with CeeCee is possibly the product of rape, Sadie died in a tragic accident when she was six and Danny is former pop-rock star Danny Duoshade. None of the gang remembers him except as a washed up musician and suspected rapist. But, there’s a nagging feeling that his memories are real and the Spiders have just reworked reality, making their lies the objective truth.
Then again, Danny could just be insane. Or a liar, or both, or even all three. Lapham doesn’t really provide any clue as to what’s the real truth here, if there even is one. Through all the twists and turns, readers just need to go with the flow and be ready for the next shake-up of the status quo.
As always, what keeps the book together and saves it from running off the rails is Lapham’s exquisite art. The consistency of his art keeps all of the twists and turns on the same level, in the same reality. There’s a matching absurdity to the writing in his art as, at the beginning of the issue, he draws Danny hanging upside down from a tree branch and then sitting down in a duck pond while speaking to his doctor. Or, there’s the sheer lunacy of watching Sadie slaughter her way through a dozen people trying to kill her while her friends lie dead.
Last issue, I discussed how Danny being the fifth Spider seemed like an improvisational moment on Lapham’s part where he just sort of said ‘Fuck it’ and went for the big cliffhanger surprise… and the reason I think that’s so is because he gets rid of that revelation almost immediately in this issue. The first page has Sadie behead him and we jump to a new status quo where Danny was a rock star. That’s a very quick dismissal of last issue’s revelation — the quickest I can think of in all the comics I’ve read. However, the cover, which is done before the issue, features the severed head of Danny, so who knows. (And by ‘who knows,’ I mean David Lapham knows…)
This issue is the end of this story/album, completing the book end ‘song’ with issue seven. As such, it’s hard not to see some sort of relationship between the two issues. This issue doesn’t work the same way as the twin songs I mentioned back in my write-up of issue seven (three pairs of Neil Young songs) in that the melody isn’t the same. In Young’s cases, lyrical changes were minor, the biggest difference usually being the first version was acoustic, the second electric (except on Tonight’s the Night where the first track was tighter, while the last was looser). That said, this issue is the twin/opposite of issue seven. Whereas issue seven had Sadie living out her fantasy that may be reality, in this issue, Danny’s fantasy is shattered by reality. The reality overpowers the fantasy here.
Except not necessarily. Is this the reality? The opposite question to issue seven’s ‘is this a fantasy?’ If Sadie got issue seven, Danny has to have issue twelve. In Sadie’s fantasy, she’s a rebel against the Spiders from Mars — in Danny’s fantasy, he’s a Spider… except, in reality, Danny’s life is his fantasy: he’s a rock star. Both issues are unclear on what is real, what is not.
Here, Sadie tells Danny before he ‘dies’ that the Spiders can shift reality, “turn lies to truth…” Basically, Danny is a liar and so are the Spiders — but their lies are made truth by their saying it’s true, while Danny’s truths are made lies at the same time? I think. What?
The emphasis on CeeCee is again raised/brought forth as we discover that Danny didn’t rape Sadie in his dream from last issue. When he dreamed he was Danny Duoshade and saw a girl like Sadie at his party, and went into a room full of pictures of her, it wasn’t Sadie, it was CeeCee. He raped CeeCee, convinced that she’s Sadie — a girl who died when she was six and Danny read about as a child (and fell in love with).
It’s hard to say what’s real and what isn’t. The entire gang is alive — how could they be part of Danny’s delusions if he’s never met them? How does Loreli live in Browning, Arizona (which he learned in his delusion)? Neither reality makes sense. Danny was never castrated — something he admits he knew was a lie when he told us it… How could Annie narrate an issue if it was all Danny’s delusion that we’ve been reading?
Everything points to Danny’s so-called delusion being real… except this new reality is honestly more believable. Huh. I dunno.
Next issue: the fabulous life of Johnny Jukebox in Browning, Arizona.
See you tomorrow.