Wednesday, March 28, 2012
GN Review -- Y the Last Man, v. 3: One Small Step / Brian K. Vaughan, Pia Guerra, Jose Marzan Jr., and Paul Chadwick
After their ordeals in Marrisville, Yorick, 355, and Dr. Mann continue on their westward journey to find her lab, only to be diverted to Oldenbrook, Kansas, when they discover a shuttle containing three astronauts--two of them living men--will be landing there from the International Space Station. Meanwhile, Yorick's mother has dispatched a brigade of the Israeli Defense Force's women to kidnap Yorick from 355's custody--apparently she no longer trusts 355, or the Culper Ring, for whom she works. Alter, the leader of this brigade, has her own designs for Yorick, and plans to take him back to Israel to give her nation leverage on the world stage, theorizing that only Israel would be able to repopulate the world if they had custody of the world's last man.
One of the male astronauts is from Russia, and it is an agent of the Russian government, Natalya Zamyatin, who tips 355 off about the shuttle landing. Zamyatin proves to be an effective fighter, almost as good as 355, and accompanies them to Oldenbrook, where a secret government installation known as a hot suite--for decontaminating biological agents--will make the most sensible spot for the astronauts to land. Once they arrive, 355 and Zamyatin are lured away, and the Israelis storm the hot suite, take Yorick, and escape before they can return.
Using the impending arrival of the two male astronauts as bait, 355 convinces the Israelis not to flee. Alter, however, does not intend to trade Yorick for them; she plans to destroy the astronauts as they land. Her second in command, Sadie, stands up against Alter for attempting to murder them, and with Yorick's help, manages to thwart Alter's plans and overthrow her. The astronauts' craft is found, but only one--the female, Dr. Ciba Weber--can be pulled to safety before it explodes. Sadie delivers Yorick back to his friends, and Zamyatin agrees to stay behind and watch over the installation and Dr. Weber, who is pregnant. In the final scene, Hero appears to her mother, apparently upset that she's desperate to find Yorick, but isn't worried about her at all.
What continues to strike me about the writing of this series is the realism with which this alternate world is imagined. I'm not sure how much or what manner of research Vaughan did to create this scenario, but it's obvious that a lot of serious thought went into its inception. From cobbling women together to keep fragments of the U.S. government and Israeli military running smoothly to the virtual nonexistence of reliable sources of electrical energy and the rise of Amazonian-centric cults, this narrative brings a lot of food for thought to readers by confronting them with many of the logical, practical consequences of a disaster that immediately kills all men in the world, save one.
There are also some good character moments in this volume as well. Yorick tries his hand at smoking in front of 355, with comical results as he shows he's never done it before. 355's first encounter with Zamyatin, while tense at first, ends amusingly when she speaks Russian to Zamyatin, who's relieved because she thinks she sounds "like a fucking retard" whenever she tries to speak English. And at several points, Yorick keeps getting referred to as a boy, much to his annoyance. And there's a somewhat awkward, somewhat tender moment between Yorick and 355 as they play off the premise 355 used to lure the Israelis back, that she was in love with Yorick.
I continue to enjoy Pia Guerra's artwork in this volume, and can imagine she enjoyed changing things up slightly be being able to draw men other than Yorick for a change. I also liked that she drew Yorick with facial hair for a couple of issues. The farmhouse-and-government-lab settings were decent as well, as were the prominent emergence of several new characters. Very solid overall.
Y the Man is known as a well-written, thoughtfully constructed story, with good characterization and good artwork. One Small Step continues to demonstrate why, and makes for an entertaining and exciting segment of the story of Yorick and the women who protect him. Highly recommended.