When I reviewed “Young Liars” #6, I described it as a mash-up of Tarantino and Lynch, but almost superficially so. In two short months, Lapham has radically changed my view of the series. Last issue’s “Spiders from Mars” injected a cosmically deluded portrait of the “Young Liars” world, full of 70’s-style science fiction elements and aggressive absurdity. It was the best issue of the series so far, and although Lapham provided no explanation of the insane events of issue #7 — nor does he here — he expanded this series from a quirky crime book to a kind of Morrisonian hallucinatrix in which anything can happen and everything has symbolic, if obtuse, meaning.
“Young Liars” #8 continues the trend of the deranged and impossible, but the actual events of the issue are tempered by a narration that may explain something about the larger scope of the series. Or maybe not. It’s impossible to say if Lapham is aiming for a true sci-fi world of wonder, or if these screwed up characters have lost all sense of reality. Is Sadie in a coma, dreaming about spiders from mars? Is Annie an agent of an alien power? Is there more to Danny than we ever expected? Lapham raises these questions directly, but makes us suspicious of the answers based on the context. He’s created a series of unreliable narrators in “Young Liars” — which is no surprise, I guess, given the very title of the series — but in doing so, he has created the kind of Vertigo series we haven’t seen in years.
This is oddball Vertigo, circa the mid-90s, when Kid Eternity was a struggling stand-up comic who hung out with agents of order and chaos. The days when Rachel Pollack and Ted McKeever were writing almost nonsensical stories about the Doom Patrol. When King Mob and his team of psychic assassins traveled back to the French Revolution to rescue the Marquis de Sade. When the comics were weird and uncomfortable and not always that great, beyond their crazed concepts. And I’m still not sure which way “Young Liars” is heading. Will it just wallow in its own weirdness? Or will everything fit together into a cosmically brilliant scheme where everything makes sense, even if it’s in its own skewed way?
There’s a reason why I’m not talking about the plot of “Young Liars” #8, and why I’m asking so many questions in this review. Because the questions are the plot, as fragments of Sadie and Danny’s life are replayed from a new perspective here, raising questions about reliability and truth. We know Sadie’s in a coma, for example, but what else in this series is real? Who can we trust? What do any of them really want?
It’s these questions which drive the series, and at a time when most comics seem to be stuck in the rut of conventionality, “Young Liars” continues to surprise at every turn. I don’t know what’s really going on, and that’s a good feeling.