DC Comics
Young Liars #10
By Zak Edwards
December 15, 2008 - 22:58

Vertigo Comics
Writer(s): David Lapham
Penciller(s): David Lapham
Colourist(s): Lee Loughridge
Letterer(s): Jared K. Fletcher
Cover Artist(s): David Lapham
$2.99 US

Young Liars is possibly the single most messed up comic series I’m reading right now.  It’s filled with twisted, shocking imagery which usually works beyond simply a shock factor.  David Lapham’s (Stray Bullets, Batman: City of Crime) ongoing series is the reason every Vertigo comic comes with a “suggested for mature readers” label, it has everything: sex, drugs, violence, profanity, and that’s just the easy stuff to take.  But while the series definitely has its fair share of shock humour, the series still maintains an intellectual level on par or surpassing much of what Vertigo releases, and that is saying something.

You heard the man, get happy!
For this issue, Lapham takes a step back in chronology to explore the character of CeeCee in more detail.  CeeCee is the best friend of one of the protagonists, Sadie, and the enemy of Sadie’s admirer, Danny.  Her position as being both fiercely loved and hated by the series’ main characters allows for Lapham to cause some tension in the relationship between Sadie and Danny, but in this issue, CeeCee has the whole comic book all to herself and Lapham wastes no time in attempting to show how this groupie ticks.  The issue revolves around CeeCee’s miscarriage and subsequent surgery some time before the first issue of the series, which can be disjointing as the only mention of this occurs at the top left of certain panels in very small writing.  Lapham uses possibly his most messed up image yet in this issue, the arm of her baby, who was aborted after a miscarriage.  The arm becomes a symbol of her hidden grief, which she does not deal with in any sort of healthy manner.  But the whole episode puts her in a sympathetic light, something Lapham has done with barely any other character in the series.  In fact, the entire cast is so plagued with character flaws, there is almost no good people present, so it is very strange to see someone as crazy as CeeCee be seen in such a pitying way.  All of her actions throughout the series can be traced back to the grief she has yet to deal with for her miscarriage, causing a lot of sympathy for her behaviour of extreme promiscuity and drug abuse.  But this parallels Lapham making Sadie, a character without a conscience, possibly the most moral character in the series; CeeCee has become the closest thing to a good character despite the pain she inflicts on almost every character in the series through her extreme behaviour.  The revelation that Danny, supposedly filled with undying devotion, has slept with CeeCee not once, but twice.  Yet he helps her on her road to recovery.  This whole issue is a testament to a few things for David Lapham.  First, his ability to create characters who are both exaggerated and utterly believable, even the supporting cast is more than capable of carrying an entire issue.  Second, that Young Liars is a demanding series, difficult to read almost more often than not, yet it is also one of great literature.  Even though the series is hard to handle, it is filled with imagery and stories which permeate more than any other series I’m reading.  Lapham has not created fluff, he’s created something much more.

Lapham's art is to the point where I cannot see any one else doing a better job.  It’s expressive, with characters loss, grief, anger, and complete sadness leaping off the page.  His ability to convey such expression really allows this series to convey much of its meaning.  A particular great example of this is the scene where CeeCee is sleeping with her university professor.  The look on her face, complete detachment, rings home her grief and pain more than any scene loaded with sobbing could ever do.  The same can be said of the half-page scene of her surgery, the scene is quick, wordless, and emotionless, driving home her experience very effectively.  Lapham’s art has aided his story so well, its hard to imagine another artist who could handle this series.

9.5/10    Hard to handle and disturbing.  Lapham is unapologetic in his literary achievement.

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