Welcome back to the ongoing review of Vertigo Comics’ critically acclaimed series, Y: the Last Man. As I continue this week I move on to collected editions three and four, covering issues eleven through twenty-three.
This portion of the series accomplishes two things. First, it moves the main story ahead; by the end of issue twenty-three the characters have been on the road for more than a year and a half together. Second, Vaughan treats the reader to several issues that go off the main story, keeping it fresh and interesting.
No matter how good a writer you are, writing fifty-plus issues (tantamount to hundreds of pages) about people walking across country will invariably become incredibly boring. If you doubt me then you’ve clearly never read Lord of the Rings (granted it’s a different medium but the principle is still the same).
Issues eleven through fifteen divert the trio (Yorick, Agent 355 and Dr. Mann) away from their main goal of reaching Dr. Mann’s back-up lab in California when a Russian agent crosses their path and unveils an amazing fact: there are other men alive besides Yorick.
What follows is a harrowing sequence of events involving a secret military installation hidden in the heart of Kansas, the Israeli army, incredibly funny bad-English and a coup…of sorts. Like I said in the intro, Vaughan keeps things interesting.
In the last two issues of the arc Vaughan continues to take things in different directions to keep the reader on their toes; none of the main characters even appear until five pages before the end of issue seventeen. The only known character in these issues is the monkey, Ampersand. In this interlude we are introduced to a mysterious “ninja” character who is clearly very interested in Ampersand, but why is never divulged.
Volume four of the series leads off with Yorick being left in the care of an old “friend” of Agent 355, Agent 711. Ampersand is injured and Agent 355 and Dr. Mann need to get him medicine but with Yorick’s penchant for getting into trouble they feel it best to leave him in the care of Agent 711 rather than allow him to accompany them to a highly guarded medical facility.
What follows is an…interesting look into the psyche of both Yorick and Agent 711. Some disturbing things are found out about Yorick’s past as well as some of his innermost secrets. In the end, though, Yorick has an epiphany. But true to the nature of the story, it’s kept secret, at least for now.
Vaughan continues to set up future storylines when he introduces yet another secretive set of characters: the Setauket Ring.
During the last three issues of the fourth collection we find our characters trudging through Arizona, diverted from their more direct path west by a raging forest fire in Utah. They come across an incredibly well-armed militia blocking one of the few remaining cross-continental highway passes.
The interesting twist on this segment of the story is how uninvolved Yorick is. He isn’t the one causing any of the trouble, oddly enough. Who is causing all the trouble? Well you’ll have to read it to find out!
Overall I really enjoyed this portion of the series. Vaughan and Guerra keep the story interesting and fresh, which in the face of what the story could have dulled into is not only appreciated but to be lauded.
Keep your eyes peeled to 8daysageek.com for the continuing review of Y: the Last Man!
This is your Bin Fodder Guru Tim Blacksmith signing off.
Playlist: They Might be Giants – “Science is Real”, Guster – “Careful”, Ray Charles – “Born to Lose”, The Lillingtons – “You’re the Only One”, Echo Screen – “After All”, Ben Folds – “Best Imitation of Myself”, Alkaline Trio – “Ever Thug Need a Lady”, The Get Up Kids – “I’ll Catch You”, A Newfound Glory – “All Downhill From Here”, Shades Apart – “Speed of Light”, Mute Math – “Noticed”, The Lillingtons – “The Augur’s Tale”, Elliot – “Calm Americans”, Red House Painters – “Michigan”