Review by Karl Verhoven
The previous volume tailed off a little before the end, but we’re back on track here, with the last living man and crew visiting both Australia and Japan. Along the way there are chapters spotlighting how Agent 355 grew up and how she was inaugurated into the Culper Ring, Hero looking out for Beth, and how Ampersand came to be in Yorick’s charge when the plague hit.
That single chapter may well be among the highlights of the series to date for those concerned with answers about the background of the world as it is in Y: The Last Man. There’s far more to Ampersand than has already been revealed, and it turns out he’s key to several matters, although that’s not exactly why our main cast are tracking him from his abduction in California to Japan.
The Australian stopover is essential, but revelatory, and the cast split into pairs when in Japan, each learning a little about the ongoing saga. Brian K. Vaughan is particularly good at drip feeding this information. In the scheme of the story he wants to tell it’s a background irrelevancy, yet it’s not unreasonable to expect some revelation. The story he wants to tell, of course, is the ongoing character study, and every book reveals a little more about Agent 355, Dr Mann and Yorick, in this case much about their younger days. For good measure there’s also a glimpse into the past of Israeli army officer Alter Tse’Elon who’ll be playing a significant part in the concluding book.
In Japan there are dealings with the Yakuza, but not as we know it. Vaughan has conceived a bizarre extrapolation of how the allure of fame at levels peculiar to Japan might play into tradition, but it never entirely convinces. Here, though, that doesn’t matter, as there’s enough solidity surrounding it to render it viable.
Goran Sudžuka again handles some of the art, but the chapters he illustrates are better suited to his more action-oriented style than those in the previous volume. The remainder is the work of Pia Guerra with inker José Marzán Jr, and the opening pages show just how far she’s progressed from the start of the series, when there were a few teething problems with delivering distinguishable likenesses. Her storytelling has always been exemplary, and she maintains a fine line in refined emotional characterisation.
This hardback combines what was previously issued as Paper Dolls and Kimono Dragons, and the bonus material here is a relatively meagre selection of design sketches. Vertigo have more recently been producing paperback versions of the hardbacks, and this is referred to as Book Four.