Vaughan & Chiang's "Paper Girls" Builds a Familiar Yet Disconcerting World
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.
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