I’ve heard positive things about Y: The Last Man for years. So when I decided to buy volume one, “for my Dad,” I had every intention of borrowing it when he was done. My fear with every book that I’ve heard good things about is that it’s going to be a disappointment. Happily, volume one was extremely satisfying, but honestly, I don’t think I could ever not love a book that features a monkey sidekick named Ampersand.
Yorick Brown is a young man/aspiring escape artist who owns the aforementioned monkey. A plague hits the world, killing everything with a Y-chromosome, except for Yorick and his monkey. As the last man alive, Yorick has the responsibility of saving the human race thrust upon him by the new President, Margaret Valentine, former Secretary of Agriculture. Agent 355 is assigned to Yorick’s protection. Together they travel to Massachusetts to find geneticist Dr. Allison Mann, who believes she is responsible for the plague. However, Yorick is more interested in getting to Australia to find his girlfriend, Beth. Meanwhile, Yorick’s mother, Congresswoman Jennifer Brown, fends off Republican Representatives’ wives who believe they now are entitled to their husbands positions in Congress. Yorick’s sister, Hero, joins a violent band of feminist extremists calling themselves the, “Daughters of the Amazon,” who believe the death of men was a blessing.
I’m always trying to read books with great new ideas, and Y: The Last Man is the best I’ve read in a while. We’ve seen post-apocalyptic worlds before, we’ve seen “the last man alive” done countless times. But we haven’t seen anything quite like this before. Leaving only the women of the world alive gives Vaughan the opportunity to breakdown the social, political, and cultural mores that we base around gender. What does a supermodel become when there are no men to give monetary value to her beauty? How does the infrastructure of the United States hold up when the vast majority of pilots and engineers are gone? What happens to our armed forced? Vaughan has fun with each of these hypotheticals, and the reader is always free to think about their own (I’m curious to find out if the Catholic Church just sort of dissipates with no priests, bishops, or Pope to maintain its structure.)
My one problem with Y: The Last Man is the artwork. The art is just as important as the writing, and unfortunately, here I do not believe that the art does the content justice. It’s certainly passable, nothing’s wrong with it:
Boxes, pictures, and colors…those certainly are drawings. However, there’s nothing special about the work of Guerra and Marzan, Jr., nothing that hasn’t been done before. I feel that a great project like Y: The Last Man deserves great illustrations. They could have played with layout more, or maybe with color, it’s harder to criticize what’s missing than what’s there, but something did feel missing. I think my main problem was that I didn’t picture Yorick in my head the way he was depicted on the page, which is a problem when you’re reading a graphic novel.
The best thing about Y: The Last Man is that there’s more to come (well, for a newbie like me at least.) I’m looking forward to delving into this series, reading volume one has allowed me to scratch the surface, and despite all complaints, I’ve really enjoyed what I’ve seen so far. Vaughan has me hooked and ready for volume two.