I have been waiting to share my love for this particular graphic novel for quite some time (since i actually read this story about a year ago). It is continuously a book that i tell others about and truly believe it may be one of the best comics i’ve ever read. Y: The Last Man is a post apocalyptic graphic novel comic series written by Brian K Vaughan. The series ran from 2002 – 2008 and is now collected in 10 trade paperbacks which can be found at most major book stores and pretty much every comic shop. The graphic novel has been well received by many forms of media and their are even rumors of a movie to come some time in the future.
The story of Y: the last man takes place in a contemporary United States. Its about main character and wanna be escape artist Yorick Brown, whose life is changed drastically due to the catastrophic end of the world. In short, the world ends for an unknown/mysterious reason and happens to kill everything on the planet with a Y chromosome (all male mammals), leaving only females to try to pick up the pieces and put them back together. However, Yorick and his pet monkey Ampersand survive and are the only two remaining males alive on earth. For some this would seem like a great thing, being the only guy left in the world would leave quite a few sexually charged cats without a scratching post (score!) but what Vaughan shows us is quite the contrary. In all the chaos that is the extinction of males and the destruction of infrastructure, females are left with the impending realization that humanity as a whole will soon be extinct.
After the world collapses Yorick tries to reunite with his mother, who is a member of congress. She then commissions agent 355, a special US agent who has been trained since childhood, to protect Yorick and get him safely to Boston to meet with a geneticist named Dr Allison Mann. From there they begin their quest to find out why man has perished and what the plan will be for humanities future. For Yorick it is more of a quest to find the love of his life Beth, who, when last spoken to, was in Australia. Yorick knows in his heart that she is alive and tries desperately, with every chance he has, to find her. As the story goes on the plot thickens, twists, and turns. YTLM is filled with more drama, sex, laughs, nerdy references, scissoring, and action then you can chain up in a straight jacket. You’ll find that as Yorick and his friends get closer to finding out the truth, the truth gets further and further away.
There are many themes that play a large part in what makes Y the last man a great book. I think the largest being that of feminism. Vaughan’s interpretation of how women would react to an extinction of men is interesting because you have a large portion of the female population who believe that men were killed off because they are weak, evil, greedy, power-hungry chauvinist’s, (many of who go on to become Amazons). These females believe they can reshape the world in their image and rewrite his(her)tory. The amazons have an extreme hazing ritual: you must first cut off one breast to show your allegiance to the group and become a member. By that alone, you can tell these chicks are hardcore and are not to be messed with. The other group of females misses men terribly and never had anything against them, most feel helpless because without men you can not have babies. Lots of feminist view points come into play in this book and really do a great job of showing how even extreme feminism can cause women to turn on each other. The other thing that is so interesting about this book is all of the theories that come into play about why men were killed off. Some groups come from a more spiritual ideology, that mother earth no longer would accept the wicked ways of men so she wiped them out. Other explanations also come into play from characters of science or even other countries. This opens up the question for more wondering while you progress through the story.
Overall, Yorick Brown is a great character, whose wily charm, comic relief, and nerdy intuitions make him a really enjoyable character to read about. He makes dorky references to movies and comics throughout the series, and because Yorick was an English major in college even makes references to some of the very popular writers of English literature (Shakespeare etc). Yorick even makes a great reference to the graphic novel preacher written by Garth Ennis. Yorick Brown is basically the guy you would want to restart the world if it were to end. He’s kind-hearted, faithful to the girl he loves, nerdy as hell, not a douchey jock who bullies others, has a great positive outlook on life and who aspires to be a magician, how cool is that?
Y The Last Man is a fantastic read and i definitely recommend it to anyone, even first time readers of graphic novels or comic books because of its ease, page flow, and overall interesting concept. It’s a very accessible book because it’s not pigeonholed to a super hero genre or anything like that. In my mind Vaughan hit a home run with this book and it has turned me on to all his other work as well! Y the last man is just a good time front to back!
you can download issue #1 here!