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CSBG Archive

A Year of Cool Comics – Day 63

Here is the latest in our year-long look at one cool comic (whether it be a self-contained work, an ongoing comic or a run on a long-running title that featured multiple creative teams on it over the years) a day (in no particular order whatsoever)! Here‘s the archive of the moments posted so far!

Today we take a look at Brian K. Vaughan and Pia Guerra’s Y the Last Man arc, “Safeword.”


“Safeword” is an important story in the Y the Last Man series, taking place in Y The Last Man #18-20, written by Brian K. Vaughan and drawn by Pia Guerra and Jose Marzan, Jr.

In the story, Yorick (the titular “last man” on Earth) is tortured by an associate of his bodyguard/traveling companion, Agent 355.

The associate, Agent 711, reads 355’s journals of their travels so far and determines that Yorick is suicidal, so she basically does an intervention for him – although to him, it appears to be torture.

What is striking about this storyline is that Vaughan really turns the book on its end a bit, by having Yorick almost be re-envisioned. He had always been a wiseass, and that had been seen as part of his charm, but in this story, Vaughan’s strips him of this defense mechanism in a highly abrupt fashion.

By tearing down the character, Vaughan allowed him to grow as a character.

It’s really quite striking work.

This story also has probably the most memorable moment of the entire Y the Last Man series, the famous scene where Yorick tells of his first sexual encounter with a member of the opposite sex…

It’s kind of a hard visual to forget, isn’t it?

Pia Guerra did such a wonderful job on that sequence. Amazing work.

This story is collected into a trade paperback called Safeword, along with the next story arc, which is good, as well, but not nearly as good as Safeword, which was perhaps the defining story arc of the entire series.

It was a risky move by Vaughan to spend so much time tearing down Yorick, but I think it paid off in spades.


Y The Last Man is fine, but I never got why some people love it so much. Maybe the bland artwork hurt it, but it’s always been one of Brian K Vaughan’s weaker works for me.

Yeah, the artwork is most definitely not “bland.” Before I got kicked out of it for not showing up one too many times, I was part of a study of this with a couple other students and a lit professor, and the art seriously contributes so much to it when you start tearing the whole book apart.

I just finished the final volume of this fantastic series. Yeah, I teared up a little. Fantastic body of work.


Try “clean and unobstrusive” :)

Wow was this a good arc. A pivotal shift in Yorick’s character that really pays off over the rest of the series.

This was one of the better arcs in a fantastic series. Good choice.

I don’t understand the “bland” comment either. Pia Guerra’s facial expressions alone could carry an issue of the book

Y:The Last Man is definitely one of those comics that deserved every recognition it got. I just wish BKV would come back to comics full-time.

LOST is over in a few weeks, and Ex Machina wraps up around the same time. I see stars aligning for a new BKV project. Crossing my fingers, not holding my breathe.

I loved Pia Guerra’s art, but I could understand where a dozen people’s “straightforward and uncluttered” might be one person’s “bland” in this case. More from the coloring perspective. Sometimes it felt like the palette was a little pastel. And compared to Massimo Carnevale’s covers, you had to invest a little more time to appreciate the interiors. Time totally well spent.

that scene was one of the interesting scenes of the whole story from agent 71 s*m out fit to that wizard of oz fantasty and yorick revealing his first time he did the nasty. letting the reader into Yoricks mind and why he seems to be unable to get the opposite sex to want him.

I loved Pia Guerra’s art, but I can see why someone might find it bland. I personally prefer artists with a cleaner style like that: Alan Davis, George Perez, Dave Gibbons. I think her art fell neatly into that group.

Few artists can do facial expressions better than Pia Guerra. Calling her art bland is ridiculous.

This is probably my most favourite arc of Y. I voted for it as one of my top ten comic book storylines. BKV developped and transformed Yorick in a way that felt natural for the story without making it boring. Yorick is one messed up puppy and someone had to set him right. Well done 711.
Also, I think it is in this arc that we get the first hint as to what 355’s name is (albeit not a very strong one).

Leave it to a Vertigo series to have such famous and defining images, eh?

Really nice stuff.

I’m all for clean unobtrusive art. Steve Dillon is a master at that.

Pia Guerra’s work just comes across as lifeless by comparison.

It seems I’m in the minority with that opinion though.

I like Steve Dillon well enough, but are off your nut if you think his buck tooth moon faces are any where near as good as Pia Geurra’s expressive and unique faces. Seriously.

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Heh. When I saw the comments about the art here, my first thought was that Guerra’s work reminded me of Steve Dillon. My next thought was that was a good thing, because Dillon does really good stuff. Both are really interesting artists with a spare, crisp style that is really good at bringing forth emotion (and supporting the writing).

This was a good storyline. One of the better dark turns inside the human condition in this series, I think.

I chose Steve Dillon because Guerra’s work reminds me of his – but with the distinctive part that makes me like Dillon removed.

wtf! have you even read this comic?
there’s a pretty good reason why Vaughan is [was – sry guys] considered the greatest writer in contemporary comic book story-telling
and that reason is Y
what do you want – more explosions?

“Yorick revealing his first time he did the nasty . Letting the reader into Yorick’s mind and why he seems to be unable to get the opposite sex to want him .”

What do you mean “unable to get the opposite sex to want him” ? There are three and a half billion men on Earth, and every one of them should be in big demand with the opposite sex . Yorick is the only man on Earth, so he should be in REALLY big demand !

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