Y: The Last Man – Safeword



Author:  Brian K. Vaughn, Pia Guerra (illustrator)

Title:  Y: The Last Man—Safeword

Genre:  Graphic Novel

Publication Date:  2004

Pages:  141

Geographic Setting:  Colorado, Arizona

Time Period:  Alternate 2003

Series:  Y: The Last Man (Volume 4)

Plot Summary:  About a year and a half after a mysterious plague has wiped out the men of earth, Yorick Brown—the last surviving human male—continues his trip across the country.  He is accompanied by cloning expert Dr. Allison Mann, government agent 355, and the only other male on the planet, his pet monkey Ampersand.  During a stop in Colorado, Yorick finds that there is more than just rest stop in store for him—he encounters a “therapy” that forces him to examine his death wish as well as his sexuality.  Then, in Arizona, he and his fellow travelers encounter further danger as they face a pack of survivalist extremists.  This violent, sometimes lurid tale is intense, yet grounded with a modest humor.

Subject Headings:  apocalypse, plague, men/women relationships, women geneticists, women government agents, feminism

Appeal:  compelling, fast-paced, cinematic, series (characters), sympathetic, explicitly violent, sexually explicit, flashbacks, strong language, stark, candid, dangerous, humorous, unpretentious, direct, provocative

Three terms that best describe this book:  unlikely hero, humorous yet provocative, compelling

Relevant Fiction:

Scott Pilgrim’s Precious Little Life by Bryan Lee O’Malley—the first in its series, a graphic novel with a slacker hero who must battle his new girlfriend’s former boyfriends.

When the Wind Blows by Raymond Briggs—humorous yet dark, this post-apocalyptic graphic novel chronicles the affect of nuclear war on an ordinary elderly couple.

The Postman by David Brin—in post-nuclear holocaust America, a vagrant dons a postman’s jacket and becomes a symbol of hope for survivors, eventually becoming the hero he pretended to be.

Relevant Nonfiction:

Bringing Up Ziggy by Andrea Campbell—the author, a primatologist, tells the heartwarming story of raising (and letting go) Ziggy, a capuchin monkey.

A Slight Epidemic…: The Government Cover-up of Bubonic Plague in a Major American City : What Happened and Why It Matters by Frank Feldinger—a passionately and plainly written account of a 1920s outbreak of the plague in Los Angeles.

The Hard Way:  Stories of Danger, Survival, and the Soul of Adventure by Mark Jenkins—a collection of true stories of people who have survived dire political, geographic, and weather conditions.

Name:  Elizabeth Ludemann


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