Writer: Brian K. Vaughan
Artist: Goran Sudzuka
The secret origin of 355! Orphaned at a young age, a young girl finds herself in foster care. She comes to the attention of a secret government agency, the Culper Ring, after she savagely batters some young Nazis with a baseball bat. The young girl's mentor introduces herself as Agent 355, or "Three" for short, and trains her to fight. As the girl is inducted into the Culper Ring as Agent 86, her mentor defects to the Setauket Ring. Will the young agent be able to defeat the woman who taught her everything? And what does this have to do with cannibalism?
A kid with a gun is almost always a striking image, and the haunting picture on the cover of Y #41 immediately grabs a reader's attention. Inside, the flashback to 355's childhood is intriguing for several reasons. First, the young girl's father, a tailor, is putting the finishing touches on a suit meant for Ronald Reagan. Later, Three mentions to a potential agent that the Culper Ring has been watching her for some time and that her name was familiar. These two facts suggest that there is already much more to 355's background than the story presented here, and that mystery contributes to the effect of the tale as presented. While much of the story is functional, Vaughn manages to sneak in a bit of humor in 355's training, in which the young recruit is less interested in keeping her client safe then exterminating the bad guy. As a consequence, her client remains safe.
The framing sequence, while amusing, does not feel sufficiently related to the origin depicted to cause 355 to have that particular flashback. Of course, free association leads people in strange directions, but even the grotesque climax bears only a faint resemblance to the present danger to 355, Yorick, and company.
Stand-alone issues have been used to great effect in Y: The Last Man and other Vertigo series like Lucifer to provide background stories and to catch up with supporting characters. Here, though, 355's origin feels like a bit of a lull, contributing little to the ongoing adventure and not compelling enough to warrant a break in the action. It's a good read, but fails to leave a strong impression, one of the few issues in the entire series to miss that mark. The main impact of this issue is that it leaves the reader impatient, rather than eager, for the next installment.
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