Thursday, March 19, 2009

David Lapham's Young Liars 1: Daydream Believer

Two things I don't in any way trust? When someone relates a comic book to rock & roll, or when the premise of a new Vertigo series sounds very much like an old Vertigo series. In the case of the former, what the hell is so revolutionary about "rock" half a fucking century past its introduction to popular culture? Mountain Dew is rock n' roll, according to particularly unimaginative marketing fucks. As for the latter, well, let's just say Vertigo wishes to whatever gods they worship for a flagship title or three to always assure their fortunes. Admittedly, guys like Neil Gaiman and Grant Morrison probably got their feet through the door at the chilling realization Alan Moore would probably never write for Karen Berger again. However, no one speaks in hushed tones about "Black Orchid" or "Kid Eternity," their most naked attempts to channel Moore. "The Sandman" transformed into an evergreen property once Gaiman embraced his love for obscure mythology and folklore, while Morrison's great works came about once he embraced hallucinogenics.

How about "Fables" breaking out after Bill Willingham toiled for years on mediocre Sandman spin-offs? Or how everyone's time was wasted by Jamie Delano following Ennis and Dillon's "Preacher" with the immediately suspect "Outlaw Nation"? So color me cynical when I heard David Lapham of "Stray Bullets", a great noir title that nevertheless rode the coattails of "Sin City", was assembling a series about a group of young eccentrics on the run from a secret multimillion dollar organization run by sexual deviants. Touted by Gerard fucking Way of My Chemical Ronmance, none the less!

However, I'm here to tell you "Young Liars" is not a shallow retread, but more of a punk cover. Yes, the central characters are a couple, and the girl is the one exceptionally gifted and dealing damage to her fellow human beings. Rather than a rip-off though, Lapham makes the similarity to Preacher feel like an homage at best, but more likely an in-your-face snarling satire. Danny and Sadie do not have an idyllic love that will overcome incredible obstacles, but a deeply heinous co-dependency built on deceit and psychosis. Their cohorts aren't lovable rogues, but absolute shit-stains on society. I confess that Way was on the money in his introduction, when he stated that if you've ever been young and urbane, you've either known or been these people, who lie to others and themselves just to make it through to the day they get over or die.

Lapham actually tries a bit too quickly and neatly to express this to the reader in his first issue, likely too formulaic to appeal to its hip target audience. An issue-long flashback in the second chapter slows the pace enough to more naturally delve into the head of our point of view character . Each segment offers suggested music to listen to while reading, and by the third portion you begin to realize the entire trade is following Rob Gordon's rules for crafting a proper mix tape. Here, any sentimentality or sincerity shakes loose, and jokes set-up previously start paying off like dominoes tumbling. The killing machines stalking our "heroes" are laughably incompetent, the "heroes" themselves could easily be villains in another story, and their grand quest is just an excuse to bludgeon all parties for our sadistic kicks.

Young Liars is sexy, vomitous, exciting, perverse, derivative, original and a glorious, balls to the walls showcase for situational ethics. By rights, you should hate the book and everyone in it, just like the most gifted and infuriating music artists. At a low introductory price of just $9.99, it's cheaper and will last longer than a dose of smack. Take a hit, why don't you?

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