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 #3, “A Hard-Knock Life,” by David Lapham is where the series finally begins to show some promise and had me somewhat excited about buying it each month. After a lacklustre first issue and odd choice of a second issue, this third one seemed like Lapham was finally going somewhere, continuing the story in the present while moving past the cliches and stereotypes that held the first issue back. It wasn’t a radical makeover yet, but the third issue is where the book showed why it was being published, and one that was worth buying monthly… as I said at the time on GraphiContent:
I’m digging this book, but that second issue was such a drag on the momentum. Unless, as I said last month, Lapham plans to go back-and-forth… but still, I already forgot who half of the people in the present were. The fact that Danny shot Sadie is a big thing and goes a long way to making us dislike him. And how can you not? Although, he’s the protagonist, so we kind of do. Odd. I’ll be sticking with this book for a while to see what it becomes.
This issue picks up immediately after the first with a brief flashback to 2005 at the beginning where Danny sets himself on fire in an effort to commit suicide after the events of last issue. Obviously, he survived, but it’s a rather surprising way to kick off the issue. The plot is rather simple: Sadie has caused enough destruction to warrant the police getting involved, which leads to a chase from the cops, gang members she’s beaten up, Pinkertons, all while Donnie has overdosed on heroin. Danny reveals that he has a gun, which raises even more questions — ones that he seems to have the answers to, but won’t share for whatever reason. At the hospital, there’s another confrontation with a Pinkerton, Sadie almost kills him, and Danny finishes the job. The issue ends with them leaving for Spain on Runco’s treasure hunt as a means to just get away.
While the other characters are drawn out more, Danny and Sadie continue to sit front and centre as their weird relationship is shown for what it is. Currently, Danny is in control with Sadie doing as he says no matter what. He actually orders her to stop talking about the spiders from Mars at one point, much to the frustration of Cee Cee, his main rival and foil. Danny is a scumbag… albeit a pathetic one as another flashback shows where it’s revealed (or strongly hinted at) that he’s the one who shot Sadie in the head three months prior. All we know at this point is that a dead body is involved, Danny possibly helped Sadie, possibly got involved when he shouldn’t have, and Sadie tears into him. She says all of the wrong things, gets really under his skin, basically annhilates the guy and his feelings for her… and he shoots her. Of course, Danny’s obsessive behaviour is everything she says it is. He is creepy, he is sad, he is pathetic, and he is a bad person. Pre-bullet Sadie, though, is spoiled, selfish, self-obsessed, cruel, and encourages his feelings while actively not returning them. If Danny is a fucked up douchebag, Sadie isn’t too far behind. Sid and Nancy have nothing on these two.
The issue ends with Danny taking things much too far by using his influence to sleep with Sadie. Isn’t it weird that that is the line he crosses that puts me off, while shooting her in the head isn’t? When he shoots her in the head, you almost want him to, because she is such a cruel, mean bitch — but, when he sleeps with her, she’s shown herself to be thoughtful, loyal, and caring, like a child. He is the adult, she is the child, and his abuse of that power for sexual gains really bothers me.
Beyond that dynamic, we get hints dropped about the spiders from Mars, Annie X’s involvement (she wants to hear more — such an innocent request at the time), and the conflict between Danny and Cee Cee that will take an odd turn soon. This is a rather dense issue with Lapham packing in a lot of action, sticking to his eight-panel grid, only breaking it once or twice. Danny’s narration is disarming and makes us want to like him despite his horrible actions. He is the protagonist of the comic, obviously, but such a conflicting one. Lapham does a fantastic job of creating Danny as a character fully alive and worked through. He isn’t simple, he’s paradoxical, complex, and constantly provides new reasons to love and hate him — like real people, except in much bigger and harsher ways.
Sadie is simple right now, but the juxtaposition between her present and past selves reveals a lot. Danny shoots her, which is bad, but that action transforms her into a better person… so is it still an evil action? Or do the ends justify the means? And while we can understand loving the present Sadie (aside from the child-like intelligence/maleability), why was he drawn to the old Sadie?
The key caption (for me) of the issue: “NORMALLY, I’M A BETTER LIAR.” Danny reveals that he does lie when it suits his purposes. He will do anything if it suits his purposes. remember that.
See you tomorrow.
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