Y – THE LAST MAN: SAFEWORD
by Brian K. Vaughan
by Pia Guerra (penciller and co-creator),
Goran Parlov (penciller)
and Jose Marzan, Jr. (inker)
Y — The Last Man #4
Collects Y — The Last Man comics #18-23
DC Comics/Vertigo Imprint
Yorick Brown, Last man and escape artist.
Ampersand, Male Capuchin monkey.
Agent 355, Agent of the Culper Ring.
Agent 711, A retired member of the Culper Ring.
Dr. Allison Mann, An Asian geneticist.
Beth Deville, Yorick’s girlfriend stranded in Australia.
Hero Brown, Yorick’s sister.
Jennifer Brown, Congresswoman and Yorick’s mom.
The Setauket Ring, Three heavily clad agents.
PJ, A mechanic who is usually not bothered by The Sons of Arizona.
Joy, The current leader of the militia group The Sons of Arizona and Leah’s mother.
Leah, A member of the militia group The Sons of Arizona.
Lieutenant-General Tse’Elon (aka Alter), A military woman on a mission.
Contains violence, mature situations and language.
Graphic Novel (collection), Adventure, Fantasy,
End of the World, Disasters, Gender Roles, Discrimination, Hate Crimes, Monkeys, Quests, Survivor’s Guilt, Rebuilding Civilization, Feminism, War, Male/Female Relationships, Duty. Benjamin Franklin, Marquis DeSade, Suicide Intervention, Militia, Torture, Interrogation,
Agent 355 and Dr. Mann must take Ampersand to town for antibiotics and they leave Yorick in the care of a retired agent 711, a former partner of 355. Expecting a quiet stay, Yorick is surprised to find himself tied up and at her mercy.
Then she begins a drastic intervention presumably to save Yorick from his “suicidal” impulses — although it looks more like torture than intervention. She even mentions that there is more to the Culper Ring than even 355 knows.
Later, heading into Arizona on the last leg to San Francisco, Dr. Mann, Agent 355 and Yorick are saved by PJ from an explosive trap rigged by a militia group called the Sons of Arizona. When PJ tells them about the blockade set up by the militia group that cuts the west coast off from the rest of the country, Dr. Mann decides to sneak out and try to negotiate a free pass down I-90. It is a move that meets with disastrous results.
Vaughan and Guerra take their time with the pacing. Plot threads develop in a leisurely fashion. By the end of this collection, Yorick and Hero have become definite antagonists and now we begin to learn about Lieutenant-General Tse’Elon’s agenda. Agent 355 and Dr. Mann are revealing their true natures slowly.
The pacing is breezy, but we do get to stop and see the devastation and the way the women adapt. But the author is careful not to let it slow down too much.
The characterization is intriguing. Yorick is a young man who hasn’t come to terms with responsibility yet, he can’t even get or hold down a job, but he is ready to marry his girlfriend who recently relocated to Australia. He is brash, tactless, head-strong but caring and moral. As the last man on Earth he could take advantage of the situation and the women but that’s not his thing. He is quick to pick a fight and equally quick to employ his “escape artist” skills to get out of trouble or pick a pocket.
There are multiple storylines in this series. Yorick’s is the most important and commands the lion’s share of the space. 355’s and Dr. Mann’s are next in line, even after they merge with Yorick’s. Others have a ways to go, such as Hero’s storyline.
This story is an end-of-the-world kind of story. Sure only half of the populations vanishes, but it is a significant half — all the men. Vaughan and Guerra get to show us a new world struggling to rise out of the aftermath of the demise of the old one. However, unless something can be done, this may be a short lived world.