Johnny Bullet
DC Comics
Young Liars #14
By Zak Edwards

April 21, 2009 - 19:25

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

I have to admit, the last issue of Young Liars was a frustrating experience for me.  Writer/artist David Lapham seemed intent on keeping everyone in the dark about absolutely everything and I was beginning to feel completely disconnected from the entire experience.  The characters are very difficult to identify with and impossible to empathize with and the plot is seeming to go nowhere at a break neck pace, the whole series was beginning to feel like to ranting and raving of someone who simply didn’t care about story.  And I was loving the boldness this tactic had, but it was becoming frustrating.  But now, Lapham has reeled things in a little bit, giving his readers some hint he knows where he’s going with this where before direction was absent.  And as a side note, Young Liars, as with most titles coming from Vertigo, is for mature readers and Young Liars is certainly no exception to this.

This is the second issue to be narrated by the Annie X/ Jackie character.  As with many characters since issue #12, where protagonist Danny Noonan created a new life and identity called Johnny Jukebox, characters from the first twelve issues are back with different names and identities.  Annie X, the anorexic model who apparently worked for the Spiders from Mars only to defect, is now Jackie, an anorexic nurse supplying Danny Noonan/ Johnny Jukebox with a fair amount of drugs and sexual favours and still working for the Spiders from Mars.  Her intentions are fairly ambiguous, but the whole story is given more direction thanks to this distancing from Danny.  As Danny is almost certainly as crazy as the world around him, stories from perspective are the ones which scream directionless and often give unsatisfying answers while piling on more and more questions.  And all done with a character as creepy as Jackie, who is literally trying to look like a spider through a combination of anorexia and plastic surgery.  Where this is going, I’m not entirely sure and I doubt Lapham will ever let his readers know, but it is certainly interesting.  But Jackie is giving some answers, I think, and the story is beginning to require less head scratching and more enjoying, something I’m personally glad for.

Another thing about this arc, if you can call it that, is Lapham’s commentary on big box retail stores.  The Brown Bag stores, an obvious commentary on Wal-Mart type stores, sells literally everything a town needs, the the extent they own the entire town the story is set in.  Brown Bag sells everything from coffee to designer fur coats to plastic surgery and even houses.  In a world where Wal-Marts are becoming famous for driving out local businesses, Lapham’s Brown Bag town is a scary almost-reality far too close to home.  This is reflected in the art as the entire issue has become brown and washed out.  While the characters can be seen in very vibrant clothing, the world they inhabit is almost featureless and certainly devoid of any vibrancy.

8/10    I was beginning to have my doubts, but Lapham is reeling me in again.

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