Monday, October 19, 2009

Y: The Last Man, Full Series Review

Y The Last ManVertigo comics ran Y: The Last Man from 2002 to 2008. Consisting of 60 issues, these comics deal with a world devoid of all men except for one, Yorick Brown. Even more, every mammal on the planet with a Y chromosome dies except for Yorick and his pet monkey, Ampersand. This series attempts to looks at what life would potentially be like on Earth if a catastrophe killed off all men.

I read this series rather quickly, checking out all ten volumes from my local library. The first four volumes, Unmanned, Cycles, One Small Step, and Safeword were phenomenal. The artwork is simple and not overly impressive, but the story is amazing. From the opening scenes of issue #1 I was hooked. It’s unsettling to watch half of the world’s population suddenly die, and the survivors reactions were heartfelt and real.

Yorick Brown, an escape artist, is on the phone with his girlfriend, Beth, who is overseas on an anthropological trip in Australia, when the plague hits. Immediately the phone lines are disconnected and Yorick is left, alive and alone, in a world absent of men.

He and Ampersand set out on a journey (like so many stories do) to make their way to Australia and find Beth, but things go awry on the way. The Daughters of the Amazon are a fierce group of empowered women that wreak havoc on all, especially when they hear of a surviving man.

The plot of Y is epic in magnitude, spanning almost five years and five continents from issue #1 to issue #60. Surviving in a man-less world is full of challenges, and it’s amazing to see how people cope with the loss. The mystery of why Man was wiped off propels the plot, and why Yorick and Ampersand survived is a greatY the last man2 plot device. All in all, the overall plot was great, even if some of the minor story arcs weren’t fantastic.

The real beauty of Y: The Last Man is the characters involved. Yorick’s group of travelers—Ampersand, Dr. Allison Mann, and Agent 355 namely—are all looking for a way to restore Man back to the Earth. I found myself attached to these characters, and their love and care for each other was palpable on every page. The supporting characters are all interesting and worth investment, too. But Yorick Brown was the true character who captured my heart. His survivor’s guilt is understandable, his failures are more than his triumphs, and his change is character is great to observe.

The middle issues (Ring of Truth, Girl on Girl, Paper Dolls, Kimono Dragons) fail to offer the same amount of excitement and curiosity as the other volumes, but the bits of story they do add are insightful to the characters. The penultimate issue, Motherlands, kicks the story back up a notch, and things get interesting really fast. By the climax of the series in Volume 10, Whys and Wherefores, I was blown away. In fact, I’d go as far to say that the entire series was worth the read if only for the brilliant ending, especially the “Epilogue.”

When I closed the final pages of Y, I felt strongly for Yorick and the trials he had Y the last man lastendured. His life was chaotic, going from a 22 year old young man into a world thrown into all out craziness. The writing was solid (mostly) and the characters were well defined, but I expected this from the Vertigo team. I think I would consider adding Y: The Last Man to the list of “Comics/Graphic Novels You Really Should Read” posts (Part 1, Part 2, Part 3), but it’s not my favorite story arc.

In the end, Y: The Last Man was a great comic series that posed some excellent, thought-provoking questions and I can easily recommend it for both men and women. The series is serious, but there are several laugh out loud moments as well. While the comics are definitely for a mature audience (there’s plenty of language, sexuality, and violence), they were brilliant. So, if you’re looking for a graphic novel series to read (and you’ve already read the ones I recommended in the linked posts above), why not try Y: The Last Man? I enjoyed it, and it gets my recommendation.


David Wagner said...

Interesting... never been much for comics or graphic novels... sounds like it would be worth looking into. Guess that's another reason to get my butt to the library!

Thanks Logan...

Mattson Tomlin said...

one of my favorites. Spent the summer re-reading it.

logankstewart said...

@David: You, an artist, have never been into comics or graphic novels? How can that be? You, a skate boarder, don't like comics?! Wow. If you want to try some out, let me know and I'll give you a list of recommendations.

@Mattson: This was my first time reading it, but I did enjoy. I can see a successful film adaptation of this series as long as it was done right. Hope all's well for you.