on March 18, 2003
While this may not be the most unique story idea (something kills of every male animal on the planet except one man and his male monkey), Vaughan's handling of the story is exceptionally well done. His characterizations are vivid and each has their own voice, making it easy to remember who is who from issue to issue (rather than waiting for this trade paperback, I bought all of the monthly issues individually as they came out). Vaughan also throws in some very interesting story concepts: women who used to be models now trying to find meaning in their lives, a new tribe of Amazonians, and a doctor who was about to give birth to a clone of herself thinking that it's all her fault.
Pia Guerra's artwork, while not outstanding, is very solid. She very capably imbues each character with their own individuality. She is able to convey emotions very well and her designs for this post-apocalyptic world are subtle (i.e., the world is still recognizable, but it is very evident that things have changed).
This title was a sleeper hit for Vertigo with the first two issues selling out quickly and prices jumping quickly. I assume that if you are here, you're at least mildy interested in this title. Do yourself a favor and pick it up. You will not be disappointed.
on September 3, 2003
For a brief time a few years ago, it seemed that Vertigo might be in its death throes. Sandman had been over for a while, Preacher was ending, and Transmetropolitan had very little time left in its run as well. The new books being touted as flagship titles-books like Outlaw Nation, Swamp Thing, The Crusades, American Century-were not living up to expectations.
But luckily the writer of one of those failed projects (Swamp Thing's Brian K. Vaughan) came along just then and helped revive the line. He and artist Pia Guerra created a book called Y the Last Man that has quickly become one of the hottest phenomenons in comics today.
In the first trade paperback collection for the series, Y the Last Man: Unmanned, we are introduced to Yorick Brown and his monkey Ampersand, who are both somehow spared when every other male on the planet dies. This first book sets up many of the events that are to follow, establishing situations like that of Yorick's mother, one of the few female Congresswomen left who is now trying to rebuild the government, or that of the Amazons, a group of women who believe the Y chromosome was an aberration and the men deserved to die off.
There is a great sense of mystery surrounding this series. Vaughan has done a wonderful job of leaving certain aspects of the story unresolved yet still maintaining the fans' interests in what the answers to those questions might be. Readers might wonder, for example, what causes the deaths of all the men on Earth. Was it the removal of a mystical artifact from its homeland or an experiment in cloning gone wrong that killed the men? Might the cause have been some kind of biological weapon created by the government, thus satisfying conspiracy theorists the world over? It could be any or all of those things. Y the Last Man defies easy classification, using elements of fantasy, science fiction and political intrigue as a backdrop for its characters to explore, all while weaving an atmosphere mired in the unknown that keeps the readers in suspense.
But like all of the best Vertigo books, Y is driven by character more than anything else. Y rises above the standard plot devices that usually plague stories about the end of the world, because, despite being set in a post-apocalyptic world, it is not about that apocalypse. The reasons behind the deaths of the men are unimportant. Here the focus is instead on how the people left behind act when forced into this situation, and what is most amazing about this book is how true it seems, how real.
Most of the credit for that belongs to artist Pia Guerra for making the world resemble our own so closely that it feels authentic. When we see the congested highways filled with cars, behind the wheels of which sit the bodies of dead men, we feel the anguish the characters must, and it leads us to contemplate how we would cope with such a predicament. Similarly, Guerra convinces us the characters are truly alive with facial expressions and mannerisms that would give the best actors in Hollywood a run for their money, especially in our lead character Yorick and one of the villains of the piece, the Amazon leader Victoria.
Cleverly written and beautifully drawn, Y the Last Man is an incredible book that bursts through clichés and explores interesting characters in a world not too far removed from our own. The monthly adventures of Yorick Brown gain at least a thousand new readers each month, and as sales continue to climb, it is on pace to surpass Alias as the highest selling mature readers book on the market today. If you haven't yet jumped on the bandwagon and tried Y the Last Man: Unmanned, I can't help but wonder why.
(And I promise that the book is really better than that pun was.)
on February 10, 2006
Comic book writer Brian K. Vaughan takes the old phrase of "the last man on Earth" and looks at what life might be like for said man. The story of Yorick Brown is one of tragedy and mystery, with a little humor thrown in for good measure.
Yorick is an escape artist. He is a recent college graduate with an English degree and is currently unemployed. He earns a little cash from his work as a magician and escape artist, but he depends on his beautiful and loving girlfriend Beth Deville for support (both financial and moral). Yorick's mother Jennifer is a United States Congresswoman (or Representative) from Ohio, and his sister Hero is a paramedic in Boston. Though each has their own troubles in life, overall, things are going well for the Brown family. Then a mysterious plague wipes out every mammal on the planet with a Y chromosome. Humans, dogs, cows, apes, their populations are literally cut in half within moments. No one knows why, but the surviving women tend to blame themselves. Notable among them are Dr. Allison Mann, a geneticist who gave birth to a human clone at the exact moment the plague hit, and Agent 355, a secret agent from a branch of the US Secret Service known as the Culper Ring, who at the moment of the plague, removed a sacred artifact from Jordan that had been said to cause a tragedy comparable to the Trojan War if ever removed from its homeland. Instantly, women everywhere are forced to live without their husbands, fathers, sons, and friends.
Although, there are two exceptions. Yorick survived along with his new male monkey Ampersand, who he was training to be a helper monkey. Why they survived is a mystery, but they are now the last hope of humanity.
In the wake of the plague, the world has vastly changed. Food is being rationed, most electrical appliances are down, and women are coping in any way they can. Some have committed suicide while others have resorted to cannibalism in order to eat. Many women erected a memorial to their lost loved ones by turning the (very phallic) Washington Memorial into a shrine. However, a fringe group of women, known as Amazons, emerged, claiming that Mother Nature wiped out the oppresive men so that women could inherit the Earth. They go around defacing memorials to the men, killing transvestites and any woman who oppose them, and when they learn of Yorick's existence, his death becomes their primary objective.
Along with 355 and Dr. Mann, Yorick and Ampersand leave to find a way to repopulate the planet. Meanwhile, Jennifer Brown remains in Washington, D.C. in order to try to rebuild the government. Beth is stranded in Australia, and in Israel, a feminist extremist named Alter Tse'elon begins a hunt for Yorick as well.
Brian K. Vaughan, who is the writer and creator of one of my favorite comic series, Runaways, does an amazing job with this book as well. While the story may not be entirely original, it is still wonderful. The dialogue is very good, and since this is Vertigo, he can get away with saying things that he couldn't if DC or Marvel printed the book. The art is also beautiful. Another really good thing is that the story is contained within its own universe, meaning that no background in comics is necessary to understand what's happening in the story (as much as I love Runaways and House of M, I am a newcomer to comics, and I need my friends to explain some of the events to me).
This is a great beginning to a promising series, and I can't wait to read on.
Y: The Last Man is a 10-volume graphic novel collection about what would happen if an unexplained plague wiped out every male on earth, animals and human alike, in a heartbeat. The premise of this story is that two males were inexplicably spared: a young man named Yorick Brown, amateur escape artist and generally something of a loser, and a capuchin monkey. The primary plotline is concerned with how to keep Yorick alive long enough to figure out just why he survived and whether that information can be used to help repopulate the earth, all while Yorick tries to find his girlfriend and would-be fiance, who was on a sabbatical in the Australian Outback when the disaster struck.
In the process, Yorick and the people who help him encounter crazed "Amazons," who believe it is their duty to remove the last vestige of the male of the species from the planet, an out-of-control Israeli Defense Forces commander who wants Yorick for her own purposes, Yorick's mother, a Representative and one of the few members of the U.S. government left alive, Yorick's sister (with a few plot twists I won't reveal), and various others, some who try to aid him, many of whom try to kill him.
The science in this set of graphic novels frankly doesn't make much sense, so you have to turn your brain off, much as you have to do when you read Superman. Some of the depictions of life without men make sense; some less so. There are plot twists galore and *everyone* has secrets, some of which aren't revealed until the final volume.
I found the artwork in this series to be adequate but uninspiring. It reminded me a little of the old Curt Swan Superman and Legion of Super Heroes days. It's clean and uncluttered but this isn't artwork that's going to blow you away or that you'll want to show off to your friends. The real attraction to this series is the writing. To a certain extent, I think that's appropriate, as this doesn't have the grandeur and the scope of, say, the latest Avengers or Justice League space battle.
The first volume of the series is a mixed bag. In it, we are introduced to Yorick, his girlfriend, his mother, his pet monkey, "Agent 355," assigned by his mother to guard Yorick, geneticist Allison Mann, Yorick's sister, Hero, and the Amazons. After the setup, we find Yorick out and about, hiding behind a gas mask so that no one will know that he's male, a wise precaution since the first woman who finds out about him tries to handcuff him so that she can sell him to the highest bidder.
Yorick finds his way to his mother, who assigns Agent 355 to protect him as he makes his way to Boston to find Dr. Allison Mann, a geneticist whom they are hoping will be able to figure out why he's immune, and Yorick's sister, Hero (their father was a Shakespearean professor). They encounter several obstacles along the way but do find Dr. Mann, only to find her lab torched shortly thereafter, which requires a change in plans - a trip to California where she knows of an alternate lab.
My biggest problem with this volume is that Yorick is kind of a loser, always acted on rather than doing the acting. Frankly, it's hard to feel much sympathy for him. In later volumes this changes, so it's worth sticking around, but if I had only read the first volume and didn't know anything about the later volumes, I'm not sure I'd have made it past this first one. It is worth doing so, though, and you need to get the setup in this one to make sense of the rest. I can definitely recommend the series more than I can the setup.
on May 22, 2016
This comic book reminded me a great deal of Stephen King's 'The Stand' as I read. That is a good thing! The plot twists kept me turning pages as well. The characters are not cute, but true to life. Women can definitely be as hard and crazy as men. If most men died from some strange event as they do in 'Y', women would certainly fill in the spaces left by the absences of males.
However, the hostility directed against Yorick by so many vigilante women doesn't quite ring true. He doesn't know why he wasn't affected by whatever killed all of the men and neither does the government or his mother. I can't see any intelligent woman, much less his mother or the USA government, permitting him to roam about, traveling with a single bodyguard to try to reach Boston or Australia.
However, 'Y' is definitely suspenseful. I have decided to stop judging the implausible bits for now. I am curious how the series will end. Since this is volume 1 of 10, obviously there are cliffhangers left. On to volume 2!
on January 18, 2015
I'm not exactly certain how I stumbled upon this graphic novel but I'm certainly happy I did. This highly readable adult graphic novel is the fictional tale of a young twenty-something slacker named Yorick Brown who suddenly finds himself in the most unpredictable of predicaments. A devastating plague has spread across the globe and instantaneously destroyed every man and mammal with a 'Y' chromosome--except, of course, for our reluctant hero and his pet monkey Ampersand. Beginning with this issue, we are taken on an interesting and often perilous journey through time and over several continents as Yorick and his female companions attempt to discover exactly why he and Ampersand are the sole remaining male mammals left on the planet. Each action-packed issue follows the wise-cracking Yorick and his friends dodging rival interest groups, spies, assassins, and murderous, modern day Amazon warriors in their quest to discover the answers to their many questions and a cure for the dreaded plague. A secondary plot thread is Yoricks relentless obsession with finding his girlfriend (presumed fiancée) who went missing in the Australian outback when the global catastrophe hit. I liked this series very much and before I address what I feel to be its 'cons', I'd first like to address what I believe to be its 'pros'. Overall, I found this entire series to be a genre-defying, highly addictive, and unpredictable compilation of interwoven stories. While some of the tales were lackluster and hard to follow, others were outstanding with the benefit of providing readers with some very wild and unpredictable plot twists. I really appreciate the social relevancy and the controversial nature of 'Y'. I predict that half of the people reading this graphic novel might be offended that the gun-toting wives of Republican congressmen and Senators attempted to violently wrest control of the U.S. Government from the hands of Democratic women they felt couldn't represent their interests. The militaristic ultra-feminist Israeli Alter Tse'elon is another controversial female character. Her relentless pursuit of Yorick and her psychopathic obsession with Israel's 'security' resonates with many things that are happening in the Middle East even now. Does anyone else believe it somewhat sexist that our entire planets infrastructure would collapse and remain collapsed without men? This series was very thought provoking and I think that is why it appealed to me so much. The Cons? While it may be true that Pia Guerra is a gifted artist, I find it difficult to believe that this might be some of her best work. The landscapes and post apocalyptic cityscapes were great; the people--not so much. In fact, it was a little too easy for me to think of Yorick as the character 'Shaggy' from the Scooby-Doo television cartoon. I kept waiting for him to say, "Like, ZOINKS," in certain situations but this never happened. Another complaint I have is the seeming lack of gravity affecting the survivors of this post-apocalyptic Earth. After the global event, which left billions of men and other male animals dead, we are told that millions of women committed suicide and many more women resorted to cannibalism to survive in the lean years that followed. Yet many of these nitty-gritty details are glossed over, and our characters are taken from point 'a' to point 'c' without a lot of story development in between. My favorite book in the series was the last, the tenth book, mainly because Yorick seems to have matured considerably. I had the sense throughout the series that Yorick was a spoiled, insecure brat who in ordinary circumstances may never have grown up at all. The tenth book in portrays Yorick to be a vastly different person than the one we met in the first volume--no doubt changed from all of his harrowing post-apocalyptic experiences. Not only can he throw a punch or two to defend himself, but he now at last seems to have broken the mold that made him the perpetual victim of fate and circumstance. The boy grew into a man with a sense of purpose and a measure of self confidence. The humor throughout the story sometimes worked--and sometimes didn't--but what it did do in my opinion was undermine Brian K Vaughn's otherwise brilliant storytelling and dialog sequences. Nevertheless, because of its peaks and in spite of its troughs, I found this to be an exceptionally entertaining story and I highly recommend it to people who enjoy thought-provoking science-fiction, thrillers, and mysteries.
Brian Vaughan's Y: THE LAST MAN has for several years now been one of the most compelling graphic series around. The series is finally drawing to an end, though the final issues will not be bound into a single and final book until this June. The ongoing adventures of Yorick, Ampersand, Agent 355, Dr. Mann, and the others is finally concluding. The series hasn't always been at its best, but overall it has to go down as one of the finest long series ever executed.
The title refers jointly to Mary Shelley and genetics, the Y chromosome and the creator of Frankenstein's novel about the last living human being following a devastating plague (Shelley was so far ahead of her time in her two best known novels that it would be over a century before people were writing on comparable themes). Yorick Brown, a generally unlikable smartass who makes a living as an escape artist, is the last remaining human male, just as his pet monkey Ampersand, is the last surviving nonhuman male. The question surrounding what caused the death of all human males and why Yorick and Ampersand were spared is the subject of the next nine installments in the story.
I love so many things about the series. I like the wit and pop culture references (including extensive self-referentiality). Many of the characters are a lot of fun. There are some weaknesses as well. As mentioned above, Yorick is not often a very likable character. And some of the groups of females in the series are not very enjoyable, in particular the Amazons, who are more like absurd caricatures of the feminazis created in the fevered imagination of Rush Limbaugh than any believable group of real life women. Still, there are so many good things in the stories that one can forgive the occasional lapses. Later it become harder to forgive some pedestrian storytelling, but that wouldn't come until much later in the series. The first several books are just flat out fun.
I strongly recommend this series, especially with the final book in the series slated for publication in late spring. It will bring to a close well over a thousand pages of graphic novel goodness.
Some ladies might think a world without men would be far more peaceful, but there would be huge changes to the structure of the world without men, and the continuation of the species would be the last thing on everyone's mind. In the first volume of Y: The Last Man, Unmanned, by Brian K. Vaughan, the world loses every male mammal... except two.
Yorick has a smoking hot girlfriend who is currently traipsing around the Outback, but he fully intends on proposing to her. Meanwhile, his mother is trying to hold her own in Congress, and his sister, Hero, is living up to her name as an EMT. Everything seems normal. Normal, until everything isn't. All of a sudden, every man and male mammal in the world dies. Women around the globe watch their fathers, sons, husband, friends, coworkers, etc. drop dead in front of their eyes. Everyone, that is, except Yorick. A borderline agoraphobic, Yorick doesn't really leave his apartment. He offered to train a service monkey to help handicapped people, but so far the only thing he has accomplished is ducking when Ampersand flings his poo at Yorick's head.
Yorick is a goofball, and certainly not anyone's idea of the epitome of the last man on earth, but he is all the human race has left. With all the men gone, the women have had to step in, but none can agree on how to run things. The Amazons believe the plague was the world's savior, and try to eliminate all chances of a baby boy ever being born. The few remaining members of Congress are trying to hold things together, but the wives of prominent Republicans don't agree with how they "took over the government." Meanwhile, there are millions of bodies of men just rotting in offices and apartments that have to be incinerated. The world has gone to hell in a handbag, and Yorick is the last hope for mankind?!
First of all, I have read this series before. It was quite some time ago, and I loved it so much, I certainly did not take my time to savor it. After having finished all of Vaughan's Saga so far, I needed more of his genius, so I decided to reread this series, and I am so glad I did. It really is brilliant. First of all, Yorick is awesome. He is a total screw-up, but you won't be able to resist his delightful, scampish charm! Seriously. Yorick is absurd and fabulous all in one, and I just LOVE him SO much! So, the idea that this knucklehead is the last man on earth makes this series even more spectacular.
Add to that the great illustrations (not as stunning as Saga, but pretty darned good) and an incredible story line, and you have yourself one winning graphic novel series here. My only regret for purchasing these is that I couldn't control myself and wait for the hardcovers, because I imagine I will be rereading this series frequently. This volume is the basic backstory leading up to the death of all men, and the beginning of Yorick's travels. It will give you a good snapshot of the world without men, but it doesn't get to the heart of the story... for that you need Volume 2!!
on July 28, 2014
Other reviewers have probably reviewed this so thoroughly there's not much more here I can add .... the whole idea of the protagonist being, literally , the last man on earth.. "What if something killed off all the men and women inherited the world afterwards"?... was a ton of fun for me and a great read. I can heartily recommend the entire series actually not just this first graphic novel alone.
I find it's helpful to rattle off the other comics/graphic novels I enjoyed in that if someone reads this list and finds themselves nodding their head saying "Yep,I liked those too" then it's more likely you might find this graphic novel to your liking.. and the reverse is true too if your reaction is "God that stuff was AWFUL" then my recommendations of graphic novels probably won't do much good for you :P ... other graphic novels I've enjoyed include:
- Sandman by Neil Gaiman
- Preacher by Ennis and Dillon
-Hellblazer, by Ennis and Dillon and earlier work by other writers/artists too up until and including the Ennis/Dillon days
- Watchmen, V for Vendetta and Swamp Thing by Alan Moore
- The Dark Knight Returns by Miller
- Morning Glories (first graphic novel collection... after that was so mired in mystery and inconclusive I just lost interest)
- Astro City earlier graphic novels
- Old Man Logan
- Kingdom Come
- The Boys
on February 6, 2015
This is my review of the entire series - Initially interesting but problems with the story emerge as it goes along. At first I was intrigued by the premise and some of the consequences of it, such as the effects of the 'plague' on transport and what would happen to government etc. However, I felt that character's were unbelievable with generally weak motivations. I feel the women in the story were all quite similar and it was apparent that they were written by a man. This was particularly evident in the dialogue, where the emphasis was on sarcastic 'witty banter' to the point where it felt strained. This is a personal opinion as some people might like the one liners, and there are plenty, but it wasn't believable for me.
Overall it was ok, but I likely won't be revisiting it