Y: The Last Man, by Brian K Vaughan
Posted November 19, 2010on:
Ahhh, Graphic Novel November, how do I love thee? and thank you local library, for hooking me up with some new Graphic Novels! I shall be back for more!
thanks to Opinions of a Wolf for getting me interested in Y: The Last Man, a graphic novel I’ve been hearing about since it first hit shelves and became a sleeper hit for Vertigo.
An alluring premise – for some unexplainable reason, all the men on earth dropped dead, all at the same time. And not just humans, all male mammals dropped dead. All, except for 20-something Yorick and his pet monkey Ampersand. Science fiction fans have probably come across the single gender world or gendercide (I’m thinking of Frank Herbert’s The White Plague, for example) before, but it’s certainly not something you run into everyday.
It’s been a few weeks since the event, and Yorick is making his way from Boston to Washington DC, where he hopes he’ll be able to reach his politician mother. Ideally, he hopes to make it to Australia to where his girlfriend is, and possibly find his sister as well. Wearing a gas mask and an oversized poncho, and keeping Ampersand in a pet carrier, Yorick is able to hide his identity from random women he runs into.
If you were ever a 7th grade girl, then you know females can be just as angry, just as mean, and just as violent as men. Ovaries don’t automatically make us pacifists. So I appreciated the cross section of women that Vaughan portrays in the story. He doesn’t make women out to be all good, or all bad, or whatever – he makes them out to be a realistic cross section of humanity. Some women just try to survive as best they can, others take matters and guns into their own hands, and there’s everything in between. The surviving politicians have just as much luck as men in coming to an agreement about how to run the world and handle the situation, as in none. This story might be absent menfolk, but it’s not absent violence, conspiracy, shoot now ask questions later, cloning, vigilantism or government coups.
In almost a Laura Roslin moment, the only surviving member of the cabinet is the Secretary of Agriculture, and when Agent 355 finds her, she’s alternately surprised and appalled to find that she is the new President of the United States.
Yorick makes it to Washington, and finds his mother. Neither of them have heard from his sister. His Mom tries to hide him, and tries to protect him, but what will her faction of politicos do with him? Turn him into a stud? Bank all of his sperm? Turn him over to one of the other factions? Yorick has suddenly become a commodity. Agent 355 (whose name we never learn) is tasked with escorting Yorick to find a geneticist who has unlocked the secret to cloning.
Guerra’s artwork is simple, yet highly effective. You always know who everyone is, where you are, and what’s going on. Much appreciated!
Is everything explained right away? Nope. Are there tons of unanswered questions? Yup. This isn’t a novel, where an author can give us a bird’s eye view of the world. We see the new world mostly through Yorick’s eyes, so for the most part, we only know what he knows.
Can Yorick keep his mouth shut long enough to survive? What really caused the death of all the men? What is it about that darn Y chromosome? Is this the last generation of humanity? Brian K Vaughan is going where few authors have gone before.
I’ve only read the first volume of Y: The Last Man so far, but the entire series is 10 volumes. If you’ve read them all, can you give us any spoiler free info about what to expect in future volumes?
Brian K. Vaughan also writes Runaways, Ex Machina, and worked on a handful of X-Men graphic novels among other titles.