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 #15, “Imposter! Imposter!” by David Lapham is the lowest rated issue of Young Liars that I reviewed for CBR. I gave it four stars. Tim Callahan reviewed two issues before I began reviewing for CBR and he gave them lower ratings, but Tim was a bit misguided when it came to Young Liars — but my constant praise of the book kept him around long enough for it to win him over. But, getting back on track, why did this issue warrant the horribly low rating of four stars? Read the full review for details, but here are some highlights:
You want to trust in Danny and believe that he knows what he’s doing, but when Dr. Rivera (Donnie) points out that Danny’s story doesn’t really make any sense, the good doctor is right. It doesn’t make much sense.
Lapham is surprisingly self-critical in this issue, pointing out that the supposed plan of the Spiders from Mars is convoluted and ridiculous — though, Danny could have the specifics wrong — and, also, when Danny tells the others about their true selves, Rivera responds, “So… in our real lives we’re horrible stereotypes?” That willingness to mock the book’s beginnings is rare only 15 issues in and also points to the improvisational method in which Lapham creates the book, allowing for growth in unexpected directions. If you look at where the book is now and where it was, the early issues do suffer from comparison.
Lapham’s art continues to impress and perfectly capture the feeling of this weird world. The Browning version of Donnie and Truman don’t look like either character at first, but once Danny reveals the truth, the similarities are impossible to ignore. It’s a great trick and impressively pulled off.
I liked this issue a little bit more now that I’ve been reading an issue each day (and, yes, aside from the first two posts, which I wrote the Thursday before they went up — since I would be out of town until late Monday night — I’ve been doing these posts by reading the issue in question sometime that day and writing the post sometime after that). I’ll have to wait a year and read the entire run in one day to see how that goes (and, thus, the first Sunday in September 2010 is now set aside to a do a reread review of Young Liars as a whole).
The plot in this issue is very, very simple and straight-forward… one of the most simple and straight-forward plots this series has ever had: Johnny Jukebox knows he is Danny Noonan. He is trying to convince his fiancee Loreli that she is actually Sadie. They are trying to escape Browning, Arizona to continue fighting the Spiders from Mars. As such, they recruit their old friends from New York who don’t remember who they really are (just as Loreli doesn’t remember that she’s Sadie). In both cases, the friends revert to their old selves, fucking up the plan. Loreli/Sadie is shot in the head in an attempt to fight back and kill a Spider. Johnny/Danny runs away and hits a wooden fence where there should be mountains. He finds a hole and looks through it and those who are paying attention will notice that the wall on the other side has music posters on it… just like Sadie’s closet in her father’s house.
I think that simplicity made this issue seem less important or good at the time. Now, it’s wonderful. I love the self-criticism of Lapham as he points out that the New York gang were nothing but cliches and stereotypes — and that the plan we’ve seen so far for the Spiders’ world domination is… well, pretty fucking stupid. But, he also tells us that those things don’t matter? Did the book begin in a weak, worse place? Yeah, but so what! It’s not there anymore! And does the Spiders’ plan actually matter? Not really, because it’s just an excuse for things to happen… it’s a convenience to move the plot forward and create drama/conflict. I don’t know, I never really noticed that the Spiders’ plan was full of holes, because Danny and Sadie are fucked up — we don’t trust that they know the full story or all of the details. It sounds crazy to other people in the story, but we’ve been conditioned to just go with it… the suggestion that it’s aubsurd and nonsensical is almost suprising because I honestly didn’t think about it too carefully.
I know this probably wasn’t done on purpose, but this issue’s cover features a quote from Peter Milligan and Don/Donnie exhibits characteristics like the Human Target, a series Milligan wrote very well, in this issue. Weird little coincidence there. Don dresses up like Donnie and then overdoses on heroin… except Danny never mentioned that Donnie was a junkie. It’s like the Human Target where he would take on the identity of a person and know all of their intimate details somehow — he would become them. Or, how about DJ Slik/Runco betraying them just as he did before? Don’t those two instances suggest that Danny isn’t crazy? Except, Loreli never truly becomes Sadie. Why is that?
She doesn’t eat bullets for breakfast, she just gets shot in the head… unless she needed to again…?
We won’t learn what Danny saw on the other side of the wall until issue 17, because next issue is a self-contained story and one of my favourite issues of the entire series.
See you tomorrow.