Unpredictable, passionate, odd, idiosyncratic, and very quite funny... really, your typical issue of “Young Liars.” Then again, there is no “typical” issue of this book as David Lapham seems to have made it his mission to keep the reader guessing as every answer he provides leads to at least five more questions. Fractal storytelling at its best, I’d have to call it.
In this issue, we learn that, maybe, the invasion of the spiders from Mars is really just Sadie’s delusional dream -- but only “maybe” as Sadie’s confrontation with her mother and half-brother suggest that it could be real. Except that Danny knows she confuses reality and this delusional dream of hers, and has somehow worked to influence it, to change his role in it from the father/invader to hero Danny Duoshade. We’re never told how Danny accomplished this, but the idea is very intriguing.
As is Sadie’s continual failure to stop this invasion. Danny narrates that she always fails and always somehow lets five spiders escape, suggesting that this delusion is some sort of psychological defense, a reason to live in a way. Or, those five spiders actually keep escaping the same way villains continually escape the hero after being foiled in superhero comics. Lapham purposefully references superhero comics as Danny calls the manic, violent, excitable Sadie “Superhero Sadie,” the survival persona of Sadie who hunts the spiders and saves the world... but not quite.
What’s amazing is that the story Lapham is telling could turn out to be something as simple as a messed up girl with a bullet in her brain who is delusional, or it could be a full-out invasion by spiders from Mars with this Martian spider-princess as the only line of defense. Even Danny isn’t totally convinced that one possibility is the true one, and Lapham is brilliant at making both seem equally likely. There’s even the hint of questioning why they both can’t be true.
Lapham’s writing is so strong in this book that it’s easy to overlook his art, but so much of the story is told there. Since Lapham writes and draws “Young Liars,” he has the added advantage of conveying subtle character traits through the art. Simple panels just showing characters sitting around expose their personalities quicker and more effectively than words could. He uses a four-tied page layout effectively, playing within those boundaries and often shifting perspective panel to panel, making for an incredibly confident presentation. Lapham obviously knows exactly what he wants, both in his writing and art, and that’s exactly what makes “Young Liars” so effective a book. Not many writers or artists are so sure of what they’re doing and so willing to take risks, but Lapham is and it pays off big time. Numerous plot points may not be clear yet, but that Lapham knows what he’s doing is never in doubt.