Archive

Posts Tagged ‘Brian K. Vaughan’

Y: The Last Man #22

July 26, 2012 Leave a comment

May 4, 2004

Quick Rating: Very Good
Title: Widow’s Pass Part Two

Agent 355 sets out to save Dr. Mann from the Sons of Arizona… but who’s going to save her?

Writer: Brian K. Vaughan
Pencils: Goran Parlov
Inks: Jose Marzan Jr.
Colors: Zylonol
Letters: Clem Robins
Editor: Will Dennis
Cover Art: Aron Wisenfeld
Publisher: DC Comics/Vertigo

Vaughan’s near-epic story about the last man alive continues this issue. As Yorick Brown and Ampersand stay in hiding with a new friend, Agent 355 heads out to rescue Dr. Mann, who is trying to negotiate safe passage to California from the radical militia group The Sons of Arizona. As always happens to our heroes, things quickly spin out of control and even our escape artist Yorick will be hard-pressed to twist his way out of this one.

Vaughan uses several nice elements in this book – a revelation about Dr. Mann that we’ve been waiting for since the first issue, a few funny character moments with Yorick, and a couple of reality checks (it’s just not as easy to knock someone unconscious in real life as it is in the movies). He ties things up with one of his trademark last-page cliffhangers. It wouldn’t be an issue of Y without a last-page cliffhanger. It’s getting to the point where other writers who want to use last-page cliffhangers have to send Vaughan royalty checks.

Goran Parlov, still pinch-hitting for regular artist Pia Guerra, does a fine job on the artwork. It’s easy to make Yorick stand out visually, as he’s the only male character in the book, but all of the artists on this series deserve credit for making so many female characters separate and distinct visually. No one looks like anyone else, and whether that’s because there’s a good blend of ethnicities or because of other tricks like our bald friend P.J., this is one comic book where you don’t need a scorecard to remember who’s who.

There’s not much to say about this comic that hasn’t been said 21 times already. It’s a great, solid adventure story, something really distinct in an artform that seems kind of homogeneous at times. It’s one of the strongest offerings of an already-strong Vertigo imprint, and if you’re looking for a mature tale with a good, meaty story behind it, you just can’t go wrong with this title.

Rating: 8/10

Y: The Last Man #21

February 9, 2012 Leave a comment

April 10, 2004

Quick Rating: Good
Title: Widow’s Pass Part One

On the long trek to San Francisco, our friends are sidetracked by the Sons of Arizona.

Writer: Brian K. Vaughan
Pencils: Goran Parlov
Inks: Jose Marzan Jr.
Colors: Zylonol
Letters: Clem Robins
Editor: Will Dennis
Cover Art: Aron Wiesenfeld
Publisher: DC Comics/Vertigo

The long walk across a half-dead America to Dr. Mann’s lab in San Francisco has been made even harder than our friends expected thanks to natural disasters that have gone unchecked and woman-made disasters that force them to divert through Arizona. The road gets bumpy again, however, when Yorick, Mann and Agent 355 encounter a young woman who warns them of the actions of the Sons of Arizona, an ironically-named militia group who has decided that the government was responsible for the mysterious plague that killed all the men on Earth, and are determined to save their home state even at the cost of the other 49.

This is by no means the first time this story has gotten political, but it is a little disappointing to see Vaughan return to the frequent whipping boy of the militia. That said, even though it’s not exactly an original idea, Vaughan handles it very well, giving the whole situation an appropriate sense of menace without going overboard.

The characterization in this book really stands out. Yorick finally learned a lesson last issue about his reckless nature, and that lesson is taking its toll on his emotions and actions. The Yorick that marches into Arizona in this issue is a markedly different young man than the boy who was the only male to survive the enigmatic plague 20 issues ago. He has grown, gotten stronger and matured, and more than anything else in the books, he shows how the world has changed with him.

One thing that has surprised me about this series is how much it has really tuned into a road story. At the outset I expected more of a hardcore sci-fi series with a bit of a horror aspect, but the focus is really about our characters walking across America and showing how much every part of the country was touched by the deaths of all the men. For some reason, that focus really struck me in this issue, even though it’s been a part of the series since the beginning. It’s not what I expected in issue one. I love it, though.

Goran Parlov steps in for Pia Guerra as penciller this issue, and does such a good job that I didn’t even realize we had a guest penciller until I read the credit box to write this review. Knowing it’s a guest artist, I was able to see some small stylistic differences, but Parlov either has a very similar style or he deliberately tried to stay consistent with Guerra’s style and either way, we get an issue that looks very good and doesn’t jar the reader with a drastically different style the way a lot of guest-artist issues do.

While I’m not as crazy about this issue as some of the previous ones, it’s undeniably a solid book that advances the story very well. Y: The Last Man fans will not be disappointed.

Rating: 7/10

Y: The Last Man #20

September 20, 2011 Leave a comment

February 28, 2004

Quick Rating: Very Good
Title: Safeword Conclusion

Yorick is at Agent 711’s mercy. So what will she do with him?

Writer: Brian K. Vaughan
Pencils: Pia Guerra
Inks: Jose Marzan Jr.
Colors: Zylonol
Letters: Clem Robins
Editor: Will Dennis
Cover Art: Aron Wisenfeld
Publisher: DC Comics/Vertigo

I knew there was more to it.

Over the last two issues our hero Yorick Brown, has been drugged and restrained by Agent 711 the woman charged with keeping him safe as his friends left him for a time. She teased him with threats of (and equipment for) some kinky S&M games, but instead she just wound up making him relive some of the most painful memories of his life. This issue we see what Agent 711’s real agenda was, and it’s something completely unexpected, totally logical and incredibly satisfying. In other words, it’s a textbook example of what makes this such a great comic book month after month.

In addition to shedding more light on Yorick’s past, we also get a new mystery thrown at us (in a book that’s already loaded with them). Yorick makes a discovery this issue, but we don’t get to see what that discovery is… I suspect it’s going to be a McGuffin in this series for some time to come. It’s the sort of thing that will drive a character, and will keep the reader coming back to find out what’s going on.

We get a lot of insight into Yorick in this issue, even moreso than in the first two issues of the story arc, and we even go back to the two-part “Comedy and Tragedy” storyline that preceded this one. It seemed a bit of an unnecessary side-trip at the time, but it comes to fruition here at least in a small way, helping to establish Yorick, a character who has been well-established from day one, but who keeps proving he has more layers than the reader even knew.

Pia Guerra is as solid an artist as she has ever been. We get chilling flashback sequences, disturbing water battles and even a few quiet moments in this issue, and she handles them all cleanly and with great talent. This title has been pretty good at getting solid guest artists whenever Guerra takes a little time off, but she owns this book as much as writer Brian Vaughan, and things never seem quite right until she comes back.

This is one of the best sci-fi titles in comics now, and it’s a fantastic mystery as well. There’s no mystery why it’s one of Vertigo’s top sellers every month.

Rating: 8/10

Y: The Last Man #19

April 7, 2011 Leave a comment

February 2, 2004

Quick Rating: Good
Title: Safeword Part Two

Yorick Brown is used to danger… but not like Agent 711 has in mind.

Writer: Brian K. Vaughan
Pencils: Pia Guerra
Inks: Jose Marzan, Jr.
Colors: Zylonol
Letters: Clem Robins
Editor: Will Dennis
Cover Art: Aron Wisenfeld
Publisher: DC Comics/Vertigo

Last issue, Yorick was left with Agent 711 as his companions sought medical attention for his pet monkey, Ampersand. He wound up drugged, tied up and staring into a site he no doubt hasn’t seen in some time while running for his life.

I suppose with the very premise of this series – the last man alive in a world full of women – it was inevitable that we’d get around to a story about sex sooner or later. It’s also inevitable that Vaughan, becoming one of the most inventive writers in comics, would find a new way to talk about it when we did. Yorick has already contended with women who wanted him even as he strove to remain faithful to his girlfriend. For the first time, though, he’s in a position where a woman can simply take what she wants. We learn quite a bit about Yorick in this issue, some of which seems kind of superfluous. Vaughan has earned enough goodwill to move past those clichéd elements, however, in the hopes that they will be resolved and shown to have a purpose when this storyline approaches its conclusion.

Most of this issue is about Yorick in captivity and 711’s interrogation, and as such the story doesn’t progress much. This is mostly a character-building issue, and as such it does it well. As always, Vaughan serves up a whopper of a final page, bound to get people excited for next issue.

Pia Guerra, as always, shows serious skill in this issue. She’s called upon to draw a series of odd images, from close-ups of insects to 711’s “toys” to a Polaroid montage recapping Yorick’s relationship with his girlfriend. She gets to be a bit more versatile in this issue, and that’s always a good thing.

Y: The Last Man keeps on impressing, month after month, as one of the flagships of the Vertigo line. This issue is no different.

Rating: 7/10

The Escapists #6

February 6, 2011 Leave a comment

December 16, 2006

Quick Rating: Great

The fate of the Escapist is sealed.

Writer: Brian K. Vaughan
Art: Jason Shawn Alexander, Eduardo Barreto & Steve Rolston
Colors: Matt Hollingsworth, Dan Jackson, Dave Stewart
Letters: Tom Orzechowski
Editor: Diana Schutz
Cover Art: Steve Rolston
Publisher: Dark Horse Comics

Last issue, Denny Jones wound up not only in jail, but attacked and bleeding to death on the floor of his cell. This issue, Max Roth does what he has to do to save his friend – no matter the cost to himself.

The spoilers for this book begin practically on the first page, so it’s hard to discuss the plot much further beyond that. Brian K. Vaughan has managed to bring our three characters to a very unexpected but very logical conclusion. It’s something that’s satisfying on absolutely every level, even if it does very firmly close off this story, precluding any sequels or continuation. In the end, Vaughan manages to tell a story that’s both about characters, legacies and art itself. It’s one of the best miniseries of the year.

The artwork, by Jason Shawn Alexander, Eduardo Barreto and Steve Rolston, all work for the different aspects of the story, including the “real world” and two separate “fictional” styles.

This has been an absolutely fantastic miniseries, a worthy sequel to the original Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay novel, and something any fan of that book would find worth reading.

Rating: 9/10

Ex Machina #2

January 19, 2011 Leave a comment

July 18, 2004

Quick Rating: Average
Title: State of Emergency Chapter One

Mayor Mitchell Hundred faces a new foe… a painting.

Writer: Brian K. Vaughan
Pencils: Tony Harris
Inks: Tom Feister
Colors: J.D Mettler
Letters: Jared K. Fletcher
Editor: Ben Abernathy
Cover Art: Tony Harris
Publisher: DC Comics/Wildstorm Signature Series

Last issue we got introduced to the Great Machine, a superhero with the power to control complex machinery. After stumbling around for a few years, he hangs up his mask, goes public and wins the mayorship of New York City. The first issue, to me, seemed to be part shock value and part political posturing, which is sure to make it a darling of a lot of critics, but doesn’t particularly endear it to me.

This issue Mitchell Hundred, now mayor of New York, faces the first crisis of his stewardship. It’s not any high-flying threat, though… it’s a much more benign crisis – an artist has created a scandalous piece of work and the wrath of the public is liable to come down on him.

I absolutely love Brian Vaughan’s work on Y: The Last Man, but I don’t like feeling like a comic is preaching to me. The first issue of this series tread that line very carefully. This isn’t isn’t as bad on that front, but it winds up committing a far more egregious crime: it’s kinda boring. Sure, the issue of using taxpayer money to fund offensive pieces of art is an important one worthy of debate, but it doesn’t make for a very good comic book. It isn’t easy to work a civics lesson into a comic book, but it could certainly have been done better than it was here.

Harris and Feister do a very good job with the art chores. They have a very nice (if all too brief) action sequence at the beginning, and manage to make each character distinct and unique. They also deserve a lot of credit for a fantastic, eye-popping cover that will get the attention of anybody passing by the comic book rack.

A great cover can only take you so far, though, and the story within just isn’t gripping enough to hold my attention. Vaughan has done a lot of really great storytelling. Just not, so far, in this series.

Rating: 5/10

Ex Machina #1

December 31, 2010 Leave a comment

June 12, 2004

Quick Rating: Average
Title: The Pilot

The world’s first superhero runs for political office… how will the world handle it?

Writer: Brian K. Vaughan
Pencils: Tony Harris
Inks: Tom Feister
Colors: J.D. Mettler
Letters: Jared K. Fletcher
Editor: Ben Abernathy
Cover Art: Tony Harris & Tom Feister
Publisher: DC Comics/Wildstorm Signature Series

I’m going to go out on a limb and predict this title will become a critical darling the instant the first issue hits the stands, but frankly, it just leaves me feeling kind of flat. I’m a huge fan of Vaughan’s Y: The Last Man, but I’m never a fan of “soapbox” entertainment – not in television, not in movies, and not in comic books, and this title runs dangerously close to that line.

Mitchell Hundred has the startling power to talk to and control machines. He used this ability for a year as a masked superhero before deciding that any good he was doing was negligible. Hoping to do more good, Hundred unmasked and ran for – and won – the mayorship of New York City. This book bounces around quite a lot in time, from his childhood to some indistinct point in the future where he’s telling his story of tragedy and woe to an unseen off-panel companion. We see, at various points along the timeline, an assassination attempt, a blackmail attempt and the remnants of what may either be Mitchell’s greatest triumph or greatest failure, depending on your perspective.

Vaughan’s stories frequently take on political overtones, but this story draws the lines too starkly, verging on the preachy at some points. He also pulls in one of his now-infamous last-page twists, one that completely took me by surprise, but that’s mostly because the image you see is so striking, so startling for people in our real world that it takes advantage of a visceral gut reaction you can’t help but have. It’s either very clever or very tasteless, and frankly I can’t decide which it is at this point.

Helping this series along is some great art by Tony Harris and Tom Feister. They’ve been doing a lot of fantastic cover and interior art together over the past few years, from titles ranging from Fantastic Four to The Legion, and in this issue they paint a very realistic portrait of a superhero with Mitchell’s unique ability. Their designs are, for the most part, very utilitarian, very functional, and that’s what this book requires.

I’m not sold on this series, but I don’t hate it. I have no doubt that a large number of Vaughan’s fans will jump right into this issue and enjoy it. When you get right down to it, it may simply turn out to be a story that’s just not for me.

Rating: 5/10