11 May 2011

Faster than a DC Bullet: Y: The Last Man, Part II: Y: The Last Man: The Deluxe Edition, Book Two

Comic hardcover, 305 pages
Published 2009 (contents: 2003-04)

Borrowed from the library
Read April 2011
Y: The Last Man: The Deluxe Edition, Book Two

Writer: Brian K. Vaughan
Pencillers: Pia Guerra, Goran Parlov, Paul Chadwick
Inker: José Marzán, Jr.

Colorists: Pamela Rambo, Zylonol
Letterer: Clem Robins

Book Two of Y: The Last Man has more stories of shorter length than Book One: there are four instead of two. I'll try not to talk about them in turn, but rather talk about what worked for me as a whole-- and what didn't.

Let's start with what didn't, to be nice. By the fourth story, "Widow's Pass," things are starting to get a little repetitive. Yorick and company get to a place, Yorick flirts with local women, conflict emerges, everything ends in a big battle sequence. Now, there are constantly new things happening with the characters, but the main structure of each plot gets boring. I suppose only two of the four stories in this volume use that structure, but it also happened a couple times in Book One, too, so it begins to get dull.

Also, there's a tendency for dramatic reveals at odd times. Yorick, for example, has been chased by Israeli soldiers since the middle of Book One, but their marching orders have been coming from someone mysterious. But this mysterious superior is revealed to us before any of the characters-- why? When she's revealed to them, the revelation lacks heft, as we don't share in their shock. Plus, I don't even buy her motivations for what she does. (I like that this is a book where I can say "she" without narrowing down the cast of suspects one tiny bit.)

There's also a story, "Safeword," where a member of the Culper Ring, the world's weirdest spy organization, uses dominatrix techniques to force Yorick to reveal secrets about himself. Though I like where the story goes in terms of his character-- adding some needed complexity-- it feels forced as a method. And I kept going "What!?" Does she really need to do all these things to get what she wants to know. It does satisfactorily answer the question of why Yorick isn't sexing his way across America, though.

I've ended up talking about things I liked, so I'll stick with that the rest of the way through. The story about astronauts has a good premise-- what about those men in space? And the Russian sharpshooter character who wants an answer to that question, too, is just plain fun. And there's continuing development of all the characters here: Yorick, Agent 355, and Dr. Mann make a great trio. Also: lots of jokes.

Pia Guerra's art is good, too. It's pretty straightforward stuff, with no weird stylistic motifs, not too cartoonish, no manga influences, so bizarre shading. But she's just good. Everything looks exactly right. She's a good story teller, too; rarely do you get lost. And her work in the weird sequences in "Safeword" can't be impugned. (I also like the use of the time/place captions in this story to communicate other information. After umpteen issues of this convention, breaking it is incredibly surreal.)

As in the first volume, my favorite parts are those that give us that neat glimpse into the post-male culture. There's a whole story, "Comedy & Tragedy," about an acting troupe that springs up fill the gap left behind. They want to perform the high culture classics-- but the mayor of the town they visit wants to know if they could perform some resolutions to soap opera plots instead. Of course, like any dramatic presentation within a larger story, it gets all meta, but it's fun, and it also acknowledges the series' roots, with a nice reference to Mary Shelley's The Last Man.

My favorite of these bits, though, is a tiny little one. Yorick, despite being the last man alive, can travel in the open with a beard. Why? Because there's a whole group of prostitutes who apply fake facial hair so that heterosexual women can feel like they're experiencing what they've lost. What a neat little detail.

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