Y: The Last Man,
#4: Safeword

by Brian K. Vaughan,
Pia Guerra, Goran Parlov
(Vertigo, 2004)

The fourth volume of Y: The Last Man, Safeword, goes off in unexpected directions.

Ampersand, the last male monkey on Earth, has an infection, and Agent 355 and Dr. Allison Mann go looking for medication, leaving Yorick Brown -- the eponymous last man of the title -- alone with one of 355's former associates. But 711 -- no mini-market jokes, please -- may have her own idea of how to pass the time with the world's only surviving side of beef, self-pitying though he be.

Once you get those disturbing images out of your head -- I mean, really ... Dorothy and the Scarecrow? C'mon! -- the story progresses further west on their journey to Californa. In their way, however, are the Sons of Arizona, an all-female militia who controls access to Route 40 and, as a result, has a chokehold on much of the country's food supply.

The hard-traveling trio's only ally here is P.J., a bald-headed mechanic with a heart of gold. The misnamed Sons aren't going to be easy to circumvent, however, and they're not in the mood to be persuaded. Dr. Mann, unnecessarily guilt-ridden and overly optimistic, gets in over her head -- which is a nice change, really, since it's usually Yorick who gets himself into trouble.

Safeword is a violent chapter in the saga, but it's well worth reading. I really want to see where this series goes next.

by Tom Knapp
20 May 2006

Buy it from Amazon.com.