Y’s and Whathaveyous
I have a confession to make: up until now, I had never finished Y: The Last Man. My old roommate had the first 6 trades, and I devoured them. But then he told me that he had the other issues on his computer in PDF format. “Comics on a computer screen?” I scoffed, and vowed to pick up the other trades to complete the story. Flash forward two years later, and I have all five hardcover collections in my possession. Flash forward another few months and I’ve finally finished Brian K. Vaughn’s stunning epic, and after my re-read and first read of the final books, I can say one thing: This book deserves every accolade it gets.
Yes, I’m about five years late to the party, but just imagine it’s 2008 for the rest of this column. For those still in the dark, Y: The Last Man follows the adventures of Yorick Brown, the (obviously) last surviving man after a mysterious plague wipes out everything with a Y chromosome. Everything. Men, dogs, cats, fish, moose, etc. If it had a wiener, it was dead. Along with the mysterious Agent 355, geneticist/cloning expert Dr. Alison Mann, and his pet capuchin Ampersand, he sets out to not only find the cause of the plague and why he was spared, but also find his fiancé, who he last knew was in Australia.
The plot sounds simple, and that may be true, but Y definitely fits into the “it’s not the destination, but he journey” motif that has been used so much it’s a cliché. But it’s true, Yorick’s journey is fantastic, and is clearly one of the crowning achievements in sequential art/comics/ graphic novels/whatever. It’s a masterpiece of storytelling not just due to Brian K. Vaughn’s writing, but Pia Guerra’s art as well. Even when Guerra wasn’t doing the art duties for Vaughn, the fill in artists’ styles were near identical to his. There are few comic teams that work this well together, and yet when they do, it’s magic.
For a long time, I’ve heard Y: The Last Man being thrown around onto not only “Best Comics of the Last Decade” lists, but “Of All Time” as well. After reading it, and letting it digest for a little bit, I can honestly say it deserves to be on those “Best of Lists”. It’s truly a fantastic tale that proves just how amazing and legitimate comic books are as a storytelling medium. In fact, it’s a story that really can ONLY be told this way, although Hollywood has sure tried their hand at getting it off the ground (hint: follow The Walking Dead’s example and go TV, there’s no way you could fit this all into one movie).
I guess the point of this rambling column is this: Go read Y: The Last Man. If you already have, dig out the hardcovers/trades/single issues and read them again. Savor it. Love it. And most importantly, share it with others the next time they say “comics are for kids” and show them how awesome comics really are.