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62. “Safeword” by Brian K. Vaughan, Pia Guerra and Jose Marzan Jr. (Y: The Last Man #18-20) – 161 points (2 first place votes)
In this storyline, 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.
Penciler Pia Guerra and inker Jose Marzan Jr. do a bang-up job on the art for the arc.
61. “The Great Cow Race” by Jeff Smith (Bone #7-11) – 163 points (2 first place votes)
If you were going to pick one Bone storyline to represent the series, The Great Cow Race is a great one to pick, which is helpful, because it is the only Bone storyline on the list!
This story, which is the second story arc in Jeff Smith’s acclaimed series, gives you a quick and telling introduction to the world of the Bones.
Our hero, Fone Bone, is his traditional heroic and love-sick self. The greedy Phoney Bone has cajoled the dim-witted Smiley Bone into another one of Phoney’s hare-brained ideas – disguise themselves as cows and win the Great Cow Race against Gran’ma Ben!
(I used the more recent color version instead of the original black and white version)
The Great Cow Race itself shows readers the wacky nature of the valley folk, and the irascible nature of Gran’ma Ben (the lady races cows, for crying out loud!!!).
At the same time, there is a dark side, too, and we see that through the rat creatures and through some new details about Thorn, the love of Fone Bone’s life.
This is a fun, engaging story arc with great Smith art – a real winner.
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