Weeklies

Comic: "Y - The Last Man"
Published by: DC Comics
Written by: Brian K. Vaughan
Artist: Pia Guerra, Goran Sudzuka, Paul Chadwick

Reviewer: Protoclown
Posted: 1/30/2008

Plot: In one day, a mysterious plague kills every mammal with a Y chromosome, leaving the world in chaos with only two surviving males: Yorick Brown and his monkey Ampersand.

Review: The premise may sound like that of a science fiction movie utterly convinced of its own importance, but Y - The Last Man is one of the most consistently satisfying comics I've read over the past five years. As I write this, the last issue came out today and I only just finished reading it moments ago. Serial fiction such as television series or comic books always seems the hardest when it comes time to say goodbye. Unlike novels and movies, readers have been following the exploits of these characters every month for years, and it's certainly no exaggeration to say that after a powerful series like this a certain "void" in one's life is bound to be felt.

Early in the series, all Yorick wants to do is reunite with his girlfriend Beth, who was in Australia on an anthropological dig when the plague struck, but given that his status as the last man on Earth carries some importance, he is quickly saddled with a bodyguard, Agent 355, and sent to visit a geneticist named Dr. Allison Mann, so that he may be studied to understand why he and his monkey were the lone survivors of the plague. After Mann's lab is destroyed, Yorick, 355, and Dr. Mann end up traveling the globe in search for answers, during which the reader gets a fairly in-depth tour of a world without men. From the chaos and despair immediately following the disaster to the reconstruction efforts, we see some of the vast changes that may take place in a world where all the men disappear overnight.

But this is more than a simple adventure story, a "what if" tale, or a vehicle for social commentary--above all that, it's a story of three characters, and how their lives are forever changed not just from the greater disaster, but from the intersection of their lives and how they've affected one another. And there may just be a sad and beautiful love story buried somewhere in there too. Despite the rather bleak premise, the series does have its share of humor, as Yorick is the kind of charismatic, witty character you'd like to be friends with.

The humorous moments never last long in Vaughan's world, however, because it's always just a matter of time before reality catches up to his characters. I suppose it's a testament to Vaughan's character-building abilities that I was quickly moved to tears and then anger over something that happened in the final story arc. I can't say too much without giving things away, but I will say that Vaughan's choice of timing is just plain evil. Vaughan finally delivered the moment I'd been waiting for for years, and then he had to go and break my heart with his stupid story. When a story manages to get that kind of emotional reaction out of me for something other than sucking with a vengeance, it must be doing something right.

Also, I feel I must point out that Pia Guerra is one of the most talented artists working in comics today. Her pencils are sharp and clear, with never so much as a wasted line among them. But most importantly, she manages to convey an amazing amount of emotion in her faces. Some of the most evocative panels in the book were ones that had no dialog at all, and Vaughan wisely recognized the skill of his storytelling partner early on and provided scripts that gave her plenty of moments to shine.

This is definitely one of the first series that comes to mind when I think of ways to get non-comic-readers interested in comic books, so if you haven't read this series yet, you've really been missing out. Pick up the first volume, "Unmanned", and see for yourself.

Overall rating: WholeWholeWholeWholeHalf
(Scored on a 0.5 - 5 pickles rating: 0.5 being the worst and 5 being the best)

Reader Comments

The Dork Knight
Jan 31st, 2008, 04:30 PM
Hm, still got it lying around but I havenīt had the time yet to check it out, perhaps a good incentive to turn off the computer and sit back with the books...
pickled
Jan 31st, 2008, 04:37 PM
Do they have any volumes of this comic collected into graphic novels yet?
Member
Jan 31st, 2008, 04:54 PM
Yes, as the reviewer said pickup Unmanned, the first Graphic novel. I think its the first 5 or 6 issues. Right now there are 9 G novels out, covering all but the last 8 or so issues. The last one comes out next month I believe.
なにをみてんだよ
Jan 31st, 2008, 06:21 PM
Serial fiction such as television series or comic books always seems the hardest when it comes time to say goodbye. Unlike novels and movies, readers have been following the exploits of these characters every month for years, and it's certainly no exaggeration to say that after a powerful series like this a certain "void" in one's life is bound to be felt.

So true.
Member
Feb 1st, 2008, 01:28 AM
Now you're making me *dread* reading the last GN. I've been caught up so far and I do like the story. You're right in that Yorick is a great character. He's a little more than the average "everyman," but he's likable and you can really sympathize with him. I've enjoyed seeing the different points of view, too, that they've come across throughout the series. All in all, I agree. It's beautifully written and even though you're making me feel a bit skeptical at reading the end...I mean, with a line like "Vaughan finally delivered the moment I'd been waiting for for years, and then he had to go and break my heart with his stupid story" you just know something *bad* is going to happen. Of course, it's going to be even worse because I wait for the GNs to come out, but knowing it's coming helps soften the blow a little *laughs*
Fookin' up planets!
Feb 1st, 2008, 04:41 AM
I love this book... best book since "Preacher" yo.
James Brown in hiding
Feb 1st, 2008, 05:35 AM
I hear you Prot. I totally went through the same thing when Preacher ended. I think it's telling for a comic when it can transend the shit. We read stories every month where cheracters are killed and ressurected so many times that it looses it's punch but when the cheracters are so well developed and everything around them seems plausable it's no longer just a book. It's now art because it did what it was supposed to and that's suck you in to the point that you're going along with everything those cheracters are going through.

I haven't read this series but I've had way too many reccomendations not to at this point but if it got that kind of reaction from you, well like I said I had the same thing with Preacher so I've got to check this one out. Thanks for the heads up bro.
Pickleman's Uncle
Feb 1st, 2008, 11:39 AM
I did get the first trade, didn't find it that interesting. Sort of was dumb how he was a magician and it's somehow useful ( and I'm sure it comes back again and again ) and he's got a monkey for no real reason and basically nothing interesting really happens except a bunch of women doing insane things that don't make any sense.
But I just read the first trade, I imagine it gets way better somehow because everyone is raving about this book :O
Of course if you follow anything every month for years, you'll end up liking it, no matter how shitty it is. So bah still not really convinced to get the rest by your review there.

Is there some awesome twist that happens? Or like cool enemies? Something?
What Video Games?
Feb 1st, 2008, 12:12 PM
I read the first and fourth volumes, and I liked it. The build-up to the plague was very well done (and very inevitable in it's feel).
The Goddamned Batman
Feb 1st, 2008, 07:32 PM
Copper: It's a Brian K. Vaughan book. Of course something bad is going to happen!

D-Mon: Definitely check it out. I wouldn't rank it as highly as Preacher, but it was one of the more enjoyable Vertigo books for me in recent years.

Poxpower: They explain why he has the monkey--he volunteered for a program where people train "helper" monkeys for quadriplegics. I don't want to say too much and give things away, but the monkey is an important element as for how he survived. And the fact that he's an escape artist isn't a mere convenience for Vaughan to get the character out of sticky situations--it's actually an important thematic part of the story.

And the women are doing insane things because the entire infrastructure of society fell apart overnight.

I know some people who just didn't get into the book, so I guess it's not for everyone, but it's pretty damn high on my list.
Member
Feb 2nd, 2008, 02:07 AM
"Copper: It's a Brian K. Vaughan book. Of course something bad is going to happen!"

But Y's the only of his I've read, so I don't have anything else to base it on! Bah. Well, I can make a few guesses, but I suppose I'll find out when the TPB is released later on.
From the Home of MST3K
Feb 3rd, 2008, 02:33 PM
Your incessant posting of genuinely great comics is going to force me to get a job so I can buy them.