Friday, August 15, 2008

Book of the Week 1: Young Liars #6

[The first "book of the week" post! WHEE! Are you excited? I'm excited! My criteria for "book of the week" is quite simple: whatever comic I bought this week that I feel like discussing in greater depth. It may not even be a good comic. It's just whatever has me thinking. This week, it's a good book, though. New posts every Friday.]

I've been watching a lot of House the past week. And by "a lot," I mean... oh, around five or six episodes each day on average. I'm on disc five of season two (meaning I've watched 38 episodes in a week). What? My girlfriend is out of town and I need something to distract me. Plus, the other day, my allergies were acting up and the only thing I could do without being too bothered by blowing my nose every three minutes was watching TV. And I'm way off point, aren't I? The point being that our fearless hero, Dr. Gregory House has a simple rule that he applies to medicine: everybody lies. Figure out what they're lying about and why, and, usually, you'll solve the case. Seeing as how this book is title Young Liars and pretty much every main character is, in fact, a liar, I'll get everyone caught up on who's who, what their lie is and why they're such filthy liars.

Danny: Our humble narrator. He loves Sadie and he lies about shooting her in the head. Instead, he acts more like a boss than a boyfriend, telling her what she should and shouldn't do. He also lies about how he got burned on his torso. He claims it was by the people trying to find Sadie when really he did it to himself.

Donnie: He is a transvestite and a junkie. He lies about his gender/sex and also lies if it means getting a hit.

Annie X: A former model, now skinny in that very unhealthy manner thanks to an eating disorder. She lies to her friends and calls the men hunting for Sadie, which results in all sorts of bad things.

Ceecee: Claims to be Sadie's best friend, but really just wants to control her like Danny does. She then kind of sleeps with Danny.

Truman: Also calls the men hunting Sadie, tries to enlist the gang in some wild chase for some painting or something.

Sadie: She doesn't lie about anything anymore. She used to be a horrible liar who manipulated Danny and used his crush on her against him, but since he shot her in the head, she's been a different person.

Issue six finds the gang still in Spain after last issue in which a midget cut off Danny's penis. The gang is split in two parts: Danny, Ceecee, and Donnie still in Ibiza, while Truman, Annie and Sadie go and try to steal a painting in Andalusia. The heist is genuinely funny as Sadie, at first, doesn't want to do it because she's seen movies where things are stolen and they always had blueprints--and Truman doesn't have any blueprints. Later, we see that he's drawn up very crude blueprints just to satisfy Sadie--another lie. Danny's group goes after the other three. This leads to them coming into contact with the men hunting Sadie, Sadie beating them all up and then her... well, it appears that she's died because of the bullet still in her head. Danny tries to kill himself immediately after, but is stopped by a British guy (Puss Bag) who's joined them.

In my short blurb on the issue, on Wednesday, I said, "The man obviously has a plan or he's making it up as he goes." The man, of course, being writer/artist David Lapham. Tim Callahan found that line funny for obvious reasons, so I'll expand on it a bit. What I really meant to say was that Lapham obviously has a very, very specific plan as to what he's doing or he's just kind of making it up as he goes. Having Danny get castrated and Sadie die... by the end of the sixth issue are the sort of plot twists that fit into a very specific overall picture, or are just the wild ideas you come up with on the fly. Do you know what I mean? They kind of lie at the extremes of the creative process. Now, I could be wrong, but that's just my experience. I don't know how Lapham tends to work, so I can't say for sure.

Also in this issue is the continuing flashback to early 2008--the night that Danny shot Sadie. We've seen part of this night in previous issues. Last issue had the lead-up to the beginning of this issue's flashback stuff, while issue three had the end of this flashback when Danny shot Sadie. Lapham has been telling the story in two timeframes from issue three onward. Issue one featured a couple of very short flashbacks to the very recent past to explain some of Sadie's quirks, while issue two took place exclusively in the past. Since then, issues have been divided pretty steadily between past and present. At first, I thought Lapham was going to alternate with odd-numbered issues in the present and even-numbered ones in the past, but that hasn't been the case. So, how do these flashbacks relate to what goes on in this issue?

Danny claims to love Sadie, but he also shot her. We see how it happens here exactly: she killed a record producer who she claims tried to rape her, Danny helps cover it up, she turns on him and mocks him for his affection towards her until he uses the same gun on her. In the present, Sadie steals a painting because she thinks the money will help Danny get an operation (I assume for his genitals) and then saves him (and the others) from the armed men, which results in her dying--and Danny trying to shoot himself in the head only to be stopped. The parallels are there, Danny and Sadie having switched roles in a way.

Lapham also uses music quite a bit in this book. While travelling, Danny and Puss Bag debate music with Puss Bag arguing for the Sex Pistols and Danny arguing for the Ramones, Iggy Pop and other proto-punk stuff. Really, it's an argument of British stuff versus American... in Spain. It also demonstrates how thick-headed Danny can be, getting into an argument with a guy for no other reason than he's British after said man saved his life last issue. Danny wants to be in control of everything, he wants to be The Man... and with Puss Bag around, he isn't. Note that Puss Bag saves his life at the end of the issue--no doubt that will lead to further antagonism.

I am left with one thought: what is Puss Bag lying about?