This book is never what I expect it to be. Once again, David Lapham piles on layers of new truths. Or, is it new untruths? It’s so hard to tell sometimes, but with a comic called “Young Liars,” it would be almost wrong not to continually make readers question everything they’ve read. Wouldn’t it?
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. Except, of course, there is no real way to be prepared for Lapham’s surprises — and that’s one of the reasons why “Young Liars” is such an engaging and thrilling read.
Beneath that surface shock value, though, is the emotional core of the characters and, surprisingly, Danny is a sympathetic character here. He is a liar, a cheater, is possibly insane, and has done numerous horrific things so far, but you kind of want to root for him. His heart is in the right place, or so it seems this month. Lapham doesn’t just do reversals with the plot, he does it with characters. Some months, Danny is an awful person and, others, he’s the hero. You never know what will happen next and you never know who you will love or hate next.
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.
This issue ends the first year of “Young Liars” and the book could not be more different from where it began. Who would have thought that 11 months later, the seeming book about club-hopping twenty-somethings and a girl with a bullet in her head would be a book about warring truths, and an invasion of the Spiders from Mars. If year two is anything like year one, David Lapham is truly on his way to producing a masterpiece.