In the lead-up to Young Liars ending on (I believe) August 19 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 #2, “Suicide Dreams,” by David Lapham was just about the most surprising second issue I’ve ever read, mostly because it seemed like a giant, colossal mistake. After the first issue taking place in the present, the second jumps back to April 2005 for the entire thing and only features two characters we know, Danny and Sadie. I should have known that this was the first sign that Young Liars was going to be a series unafraid to break the rules, go in different directions, and set up plot points that would be revisited later. Of course, at the time, I didn’t really get it yet:
Oooooooooooooh-kay. This isn’t a bad issue, but is hurt by our not knowing these characters better. We get one issue in the present and then a flashback issue right away? It seems a litle… off, unless it’s going to be a back-and-forth story structure. Maybe this will look better in the context of a few more issues. As it is, it falls a little flat. But, I did enjoy parts of it — just not as much as I feel I should have. I am liking how the cover is the first panel of the issue — a technique that I’m surprised more people don’t use. This series looks like it will either be very good or very bad. I’m looking forward to seeing which.
This issue definitely benefits from having read the rest of the series (save for the final issue) as this issue forms the basis for issues 13-18 (I assume) with the town of Browning depicted there a reworked version of the Austin, Texas we get here with elements from Danny and Sadie’s group of New York friends mixed in. At the time, this issue didn’t really make sense since we barely knew Danny and Sadie yet, so revealing their past doesn’t necessarily accomplish anything. In the larger scheme of things, though…
I do want to point out that there’s a funny mistake in this issue. Danny’s friend Kenny mentions coming over to his house to play Guitar Hero, but the game hadn’t been released in April of 2005 — it was released later that year. A mistake or a hint that things aren’t quite right/true? Is this issue a lie? Or do the lies come later? Ronald and his sister Joanie show up in this issue with Ronald as Danny’s boss at the Brown Bag… except, in issue 16, Ronald claims to have grown up and lived his entire life in an Arizona town that becomes Browning. The issue ends with Danny’s parents killed and Kenny decapitated (seemingly by Pinkertons), except Kenny is alive and well when we get to Browning…
The issue is narrated by a song, “Suicide Dreams” supposedly written by Danny and it’s interesting as it kind of tells the story of Danny and Sadie. The song is about a guy named Johnny (Danny’s name in Browning) and a girl named Desiree — shouldn’t that be Loreli? — and how he loves her and thoughts of suicide and it’s all very melodramatic. The plot has Danny working at the Brown Bag in a band with Kenny and Joanie, and he’s in love with Sadie who he’s never actually met. There’s a Spoon concert that Friday night that Kenny promises to take him to — until he gets a chance to take Sadie, leaving Danny alone and depressed, working a shift as payback from Joanie who is pissed because Kenny initially promised to take him (a scheme to get into her pants) and has Ronald make sure Danny suffers as a result. Confused? Yeah, I know.
I’m not entirely sure what to make of this issue, because elements are contradicted later in the series. Lapham sets up Danny’s suicidal thoughts and the idea that not everything is as it seems. Maybe this issue will make more sense when issue 18 comes out, explaining Browning in more detail. Then again I wouldn’t hold my breath. However, the band, the name Johnny, the people, the Brown Bag… they all get remixed in issue 13 for the final six issues of the series, so meaning must be here… beyond showing Danny’s obsession with Sadie and how everything he comes into contact turns to shit. Unless it really is that Danny is a monster and always has been.
Lapham continues to use the eight-panel grid here, and it’s a very maleable layout, one that he works well with. I love his art, which is remarkably consistent and inventive. I probably won’t talk about it much during this series of posts, but remember that I dig it.
See you tomorrow.
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