cover image Y: The Last Man: Safeword

Y: The Last Man: Safeword

Brian K. Vaughan, . . Vertigo/DC Comics, $12.95 (141pp) ISBN 978-1-4012-0232-3

Vaughan and Guerra have crafted a frequently funny, sometimes compelling, postapocalyptic American road story with a twist. A mysterious plague has wiped out every man around the globe, except for one: a sardonic 20-something romantic named Yorick. Poor Yorick, however, has to conceal his identity from man-hating Amazons, renegade separatists and all sorts of other female factions who want to use him for one thing or another. He's on the run with a government agent and a geneticist as they hope to figure out what caused the plague and how Yorick survived. This volume focuses on the character development of Yorick and geneticist Dr. Alison Mann. Vaughn spends three chapters on Yorick's past and present psychosexual traumas, as he encounters a very eccentric therapist; the next three chapters follow Dr. Mann down some dangerous roads. Vaughn is an excellent episodic writer, able to sustain a suspenseful arc of plot, themes and realistic characters from one moment to the next. Guerra's art is unremarkable but competently conveys all kinds of action. Most important, Vaughn makes readers care for his characters. In the tradition of much good sci-fi writing, his fantastic plague backdrop is a very clever way of isolating and expanding on simple human themes of love, loneliness, fear and, of course, gender relations. (Nov. 17)