As a brief intro, this is first post in the ‘graphic content’ series. We’ll also post these with the book posts which still don’t have a title, as well as in the nerd candy category. ‘Graphic Content’ posts will all be about graphic novels/comic books.
In case you haven’t figured this out by now, I’m a huge nerd, and, like many other nerds, I love graphic novels and comic books. Feel free to judge me accordingly if you like, I’m used to it.
Anyway, on to the post.
The Y chromosome has self-destructed. Every male mammal on the planet has dropped dead in horrible fashion, killed by what appears to be a mysterious virus. Every male embryo is dead, sperm banks are filled with lifeless sperm, there seems to be no present or future for men. Yet, every female on the planet who has survived the crashing planes and such has been left untouched. In some sort of macabre gender-rapture, mankind has become extinct. Extinct, that is, except for the last man on earth, Yorick Brown, and his male Capuchin monkey, Ampersand.
That is where the story begins in Y: The Last Man by Brian K. Vaughn and Pia Guerra. What follows in the graphic novels are the adventures of a lone man and his monkey in a world full of women. No, it’s not porn. It’s a post-apocalyptic rumination on what the world might look like in the wake of the death of men.
Yorick travels across the country and around the globe in search of his girlfriend Beth, some answers as to why all the men died while he and Ampersand survived, and hopefully a cure. His travel companions, aside from Ampersand of course, are Agent 355 of the Culper Ring, assigned to keep Yorick safe, and Dr. Allison Mann, a genius who specializes in genetics and hopes to find a way to save humanity.
I can’t go into much detail beyond that without ruining the story for those who decide to read it for themselves.
For the most part, the characters are flawed and likable individuals wrestling with the aforementioned catastrophe. Vaughn does a great job offering one imaginative possibility of what would happen if all the men died in a world which still slants heavily toward patriarchy. Again, I don’t want to go into much detail.
The story Vaughn and Guerra tell is engaging, and it continues to gain momentum throughout the ten volumes. The tenth and final volume is strong, unexpected and fitting, it also pissed me right the fuck off. Vaughn sticks with a semblance of realism, which sucks when you want the characters you have grown to love to have a happy ending. Instead, the ending is a mixed bag, like life. There are moments in the final volume that genuinely moved me, even though I did kind of want to punch Vaughn in his big fat face.
So, you have been warned, if you decide to read these and you want a nice, clean, Hollywood ending, stop reading after Vol. 9 and make up your own ending.
If you don’t read graphic novels often (or ever), try to get through the first four volumes before you make up your mind about the series. It can take time to adjust to the style of graphic novels in general, and this particular story takes some time to get up to full speed.
Y is a good introduction for those who want to dip their toes in the comic book medium outside of capes and tights. This is a fun post-apocalyptic story, and the fact that it is told with more than just words, but also with artwork, shouldn’t count against it.
As with any sci-fi/post-apocalypse lit, we get to play with several questions, so you might especially like Y: The Last Man if you feel you would enjoy story/conversation/dialogue around such questions as:
What if there was only one man alive, and that man were both an an amateur escape artist and a smart-ass, pop-culture quoting fanboy?
How would women organize the world without men?
What would hope look like after the apocalypse?
Also, Vaughn does a great job playing with the sexism and gender roles in our current culture through the story of what would happen if the world as we know it became purely past tense. Most obviously he does this with his primary characters.
Yorick is a sweet, sensitive, laid-back, non-violent type; Dr. Mann is an insensitive, fairly closed-off, outwardly angry person; and 355 is a strong, dangerous, well-trained killing machine, and also the story’s anchor of courage and goodness. None of the three fit the typical gender slots characters normally get slotted into.
I can’t really tell you anything else, otherwise I would spoil things for you, something I intend never to do. Suffice it to say, Y: The Last Man is worth a look. Check it out.