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Y: The Last Man #21

Posted: Thursday, April 15, 2004
By: Jason Cornwell



Writer: Brian K. Vaughan
Artists: Goran Parlov (p), Jose Marzan Jr (i)

Publisher: Vertigo Comics

The Plot:
As Yorick's group make their way through the American southwest, we see they encounter a rather unsettling situation as they discover a band of gun-happy women have formed a militia, and have essentially blocked off all the highways that they had been looking to use to get to San Francisco. As they discuss what to do next, we see one member of Yorick's group decides that enough is enough, and she decides that the ideal solution to this problem is to approach the militia members to make a deal.

The Good:
This issue gets things off to a pretty entertaining start, with the final page offering up one of the most unexpected developments I've encountered in the pages of this series. The story also benefits from a solid threat, as we see Yorick and his group run up against a group of heavily armed, trigger-happy militia types, and in a refreshing change of pace we see this time Yorick is the sensible one when the discussion turns to what they're going to do next. This issue also offers up a wonderful display of emotion from an unexpected source as we see the debate of what to do about the militia and the choke-hold they've set up in southwest of the United States takes an unexpected turn as one of the more levelheaded members of the group suddenly decides that enough is enough. I also have to give the book credit for starting off with a great opening sequence, as the opening pages manage to make things look like we're being treated to a fairly innocuous moment, but this feeling is quickly turned on edge when we see the more extreme nature of this group. I also have to say that while I don't get the sense that this character is going to be sticking around past this arc, I have to say I quickly warmed to the character of P.J. as she has a nice down-to-earth quality that I could see fitting quite nicely into this group. One also has to love the wrinkle that the final page of this issue sets in place, as if nothing else one has to be wonder if this situation is as bad as it would appear, and openly wonder how in the heck does Brian K. Vaughan plan on getting all his pieces back in place at the end of this arc.

The work of Goran Parlov does look to have a greater range when it comes to the facial expressions of the characters, as one has to love P.J.'s expression when she takes note of the idea that Yorick is a guy, or Agent 355's reaction when Yorick manages to accidentally answer the question about his gender. Now I do have to openly wonder what the heck is the deal with Agent 355's hair, as it doesn't look like a hairstyle, but rather a dirty mop that has taken the place of her dreadlocks. Still the art does a great job capturing the fantasy elements of Yorick's dream, and the final page cliffhanger image does a wonderful job selling the surprise factor as we see one of our cast members looks to have made a very poor choice. I also have to say I loved the decidedly ominous quality of this issue's cover, as it's a rather simple visual, but it does a fantastic job of capturing the underlying sense of menace.

The Bad:
While I like the idea that Yorick is reining in his more reckless behavior, as it was getting difficult to believe that Agent 355 would give him so much rope. Still by making the character more willing to fade into the background when the situation starts to look a bit dicey, I'm a bit concerned that Yorick is going to be more easily overshadowed by the characters who have the freedom to become involved in the action. I mean I'm not all that concerned that he'll become a secondary player in his own title, as the character does act as a lightning rod for pretty much every danger that this group has encountered up to this point, but I am concerned that he'll be cast into a secondary role whenever the book enters the exciting bits. I also have to say that while I had to smile at the ease at which P.J. was able to see through Yorick's gas-mask disguise, it does beg the question that if she was able to see through it so easily than it makes all the people that failed to do so look a bit slow, and it also will make it difficult to buy the moments in future issues where Yorick is able to escape notice, by slipping on an attention grabbing gas-mask. In fact Yorick and his gas-mask disguise has always left me a bit curious, as one would think that it would make the people they encounter more inclined to give his a second look. I also have to say I'm a little concerned that the book might have fundamentally altered a character so that it would be difficult to see her continue to play an active role in this series, and it would be a shame to lose her as she plays a pretty key role in this series underlying plot.

Give Me Liberty, Or I'll Kill You:
A very enjoyable issue that acts to reaffirm my belief that this is one of the best titles on the stands, a belief that was somewhat shaken by the previous arc. This opening chapter gets things off to a solid start, as it sets up a situation that I can honestly say left me stunned with that unexpected plot twist in the final pages. The issue also offers up yet another classic dialogue exchange as the opening bit where Yorick and Agent 355 get to talking about their favorite smell is a wonderful back and forth conversation, and the humor of this exchange is perfectly quashed by Dr. Mann's sobering realization as she starts listing off the various animal species that are starting die off. I also have to give the book full marks for its continued introduction of engaging supporting players that I'm always disappointed to see wander off into the sunset when the story moves along to the next arc, as P.J. is a great character that I'd love to see join Yorick's group for the rest of the journey. Still, the big selling point of this issue would have to be the final page, which looks to have done a pretty good job of shaking up this book's status quo.



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