Vaughan & Chiang's "Paper Girls" Builds a Familiar Yet Disconcerting World
In the lead-up to Young Liars ending on (I believe) August 19 with issue 18, I will be rereading the 17 issues already out and discussing them at a rate of one issue per day. I haven’t reread any of these comics since they came out, so it should be fun. Spoilers, of course. Let’s dance!
Young Liars #8, “Maestro,” by David Lapham picks up after last issue’s insanity and delivers a lot of backstory to Sadie and Danny’s relationship, while also revealing one of the Spiders. By this point in the run, Lapham had won me over quite heavily, as evidenced by my thoughts on this issue:
David Lampham is anything but boring. I will need to reread this issue along with the previous ones soon, because I’m not totally lost — but I am a little lost. And purposefully so no doubt. Different versions of the same story — the title is Young Liars… are any true? Subject[ive] views of so-called objective events? Wasn’t last issue part 1 of a story? Lovely. This comic is confident and bold and apparently uses techniques used in previous Lampham works, but since I haven’t read them yet, it’s all new to me… I may be a little lost, but I’m liking it nonetheless. Definitely one of the books I look forward to the most each month.
I hadn’t quite gotten the ‘comics as music/album’ connection just yet. This issue is one of the few that aren’t narrated by Danny directly and works well in that respect as a follow-up to the first six issues — which seemed to be its intended place if we’re to believe the ‘next’ caption at the end of issue six. It focuses on Danny and Sadie’s relationship and past, narrated by an unknown narrator that’s revealed, at the end, to be Annie X, the fourth Spider that escaped from Sadie last issue. Her narration of this issue is a report to her superiors as she tries to explain/figure out who is the real threat is: Sadie or Danny. While Sadie is the rebellious Spider, Danny, in his relationship with Sadie, could be a bigger threat as he tries to save/protect her. There’s also the suggestion that they’re much closer than thought, that they’re linked somehow — soul mates, some weird connection, whatever, they are tied together by forces beyond normal means.
There are two parts to this story: the first, Sadie, at the Browning home in Texas, is going to be her father’s new ‘wife’ after the latest in a long line of step-mothers was killed… possibly by her brother. As a result (and at the urging of Danny the housekeeper dressed a clown), she escapes and runs to LA (aka the second part). This scene is a retelling/remix of Sadie’s running away from Mars last issue, but with her father instead of her mother as the instigator. In that way, Texas is Mars, and everywhere else is Earth. The freaks that her Earth ‘mom’ from last issue hung out with make an appearance here, this time as part of her father’s side of the house. Danny as the clown in the background, always watching, and aware of Sadie’s secret closet full of rock posts, is key to notice. He is Danny Duoshade from last issue, that single force that tells Sadie to escape.
In LA, Danny and Sadie work at a coffee place together, eventually living together trying to make it as a band. Sadie wants Danny to help her, but doesn’t like him romantically; Danny wants to be with Sadie and is frustrated because she doesn’t return his advances. Danny’s concern is that they both make it — and he is right in the advice he gives her regarding her singing (that she shouldn’t be so timid; that she should lose the short, ugly haircut), but Sadie is selfish and is a user. Except, she can barely face an audience. Meanwhile, the Pinkertons come looking for her, Danny thwarts them, and the two head for New York where we’ll eventually see them again. There’s a reversal here of what happened last issue, where Danny does provide the means to thwart the Spiders/Pinkertons, but in Sadie’s world, she was active — here, though, Danny is active. Which is the truth?
Annie’s narration is odd, fragmented, full of little interjections, and stray thoughts that don’t quite make complete sense — but, she’s a Spider, she thinks differently. What’s interesting is how, at the end, she decides to betray the other Spiders and joins Sadie’s rebellion… except, as we’ll see later, she works with the Spiders again in Browning, Arizona to spy on/influence Johnny and Loreli. Does Annie lie to her superiors? Herself? Is this all a lie?
We’re beginning to get a pretty full backstory on Danny and Sadie’s relationship, but there are still gaps — and the question of how much of this actually happened. And, honestly, things will get a whole lot stranger. Who is the Maestro indeed?
See you tomorrow.
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