Johnny Bullet
DC Comics
Young Liars #18
By Zak Edwards

September 8, 2009 - 13:32

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

So it’s finally happened, Young Liars has finished.  Eighteen issues of murder, mayhem, and a healthy dose of narrative experimentation has led to the series being cancelled and, needless to say, creator David Lapham is pissed.  It’s written all over this book in very blatant ways.  But it suits me just fine, I’m angry too!  Although, as this series wraps up, another Vertigo series with much promise hit the shelves at the same time and I encourage you to go pick up Jeff Lemire’s Sweet Tooth #1, on sale for only a dollar!

Shameless promotion aside, Young Liars has been many things.  Extremely violent, fairly offensive and unsettling, but one thing I’m sure no one was expecting was how crazy it got.  The first six issues make sense, they are cohesive and fairly traditional in terms of structure and voice.  Starting with issue seven, however, things went a little crazy.  Okay, a lot crazy, but very good anyways.  The series became more than just a straight forward tale and became highly experimental and now the inevitable has happened.  People didn’t get it, dropped off and Lapham was forced to end it.  He goes out in a crazy way, obviously wrapping up things while not giving a pure satisfaction to those who enjoy extreme amounts of closure.  But I want to focus on the first scene of this issue for just a second.  It’s hard to read lines like “It’s all over now... thank God.  I was so sick of it all,” and “Life sucks, kids.  I’m tired of explaining it,” and have song titles like “Failure” suggested without seeing the very blatant relation to Lapham’s series being cancelled.  The interview seems almost cathartic for Lapham more than the audience.  He basically says the thing makes sense and it always did and refers to the reaction of people to the seventh issue where things began to get quite weird.  And maybe it did.  I am looking forward to sitting back with all eighteen issues and having fun trying to figure out as much as possible.  But as a final issue, Lapham doe do things which he’s always done, things are left to interpretation, open to drawing conclusions, and failing to give full satisfaction.  Young Liars has always been about the journey, the end is just where it has to stop.

And it does stop.  Issues could exist after, no doubt at all about that.  But they don’t and things stop.  In fact, the scene of Danny/ Johnny waking up and putting on clown make-up makes the whole thing open to a new story or lie.  Sadie, the early protagonist, comes back in Lorelei’s body, triumphantly but offering nothing but violence and laughs.  Really nothing is solved and there are certainly parts missing.  The single page panel with the words “I have never lied to you” offers little insight.  The story never concludes, the bomb threat is never resolved.  Did they succeed, did it ever exist?  The spider on the pillow at the end offers only a little insight.  All in all, Young Liars has been a trip and leaves readers with the same feeling as after every issue, except there is no what happens next.  Lapham created something which demanded attention, rereading and engagement.  So now that we have the whole thing, I think it’s time to find some truths.

9/10    Those used to closure abandoned this series long ago.  Congratulations if you followed it the whole way through.  I eagerly await Lapham’s next endeavour.

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