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Y: The Last Man, Vol. 1: Unmanned Paperback – January 2, 2003
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From Publishers Weekly
Yorick Brown is an escape artist; has a fabulous girlfriend who's traveling in Australia; and possesses a genetic make-up that's allowed him to survive a plague that killed every male being on the planet except for him and his pet monkey. Yorick is the last man on earth, and in the resulting chaos, he must find a way to help save the human race. At least that's what the (now all-female) government thinks. Yorick would prefer to find his girlfriend, but it's hard to get a flight halfway around the world when almost all the pilots and mechanics are gone. It's hard enough to drive down the block, since the streets are jammed with the cars of men who were behind the wheel when the instantaneous plague hit. Furthermore, the entire social fabric has gone to hell, with gun-wielding wives of Republican representatives insisting on getting their husbands' seats and tribes of latter-day Amazons claiming males were meant to die. Since Yorick's mother is a congresswoman, he's protected by secret spies. And his escape skills come in handy when he's trapped first by a marauding garbage-woman and then by his mother, as she tries to keep him from doing anything stupid. Meanwhile, who are the mysterious Israeli soldiers who seem so gratified by the situation, and why is Yorick's sister so intent on joining the Amazons? With clean lines and muted colors, Guerra and Marz n invoke a frighteningly believable future; their vision of the surprise and horror to come is so beautifully ordinary, it's entirely convincing-and addictive.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.
A mysterious plague has killed every man on earth except Yorick Brown, who was somehow spared. That is the provocative premise of the comics series whose first five issues make up this book. The sole Y-chromosomed survivor is an amiable, headstrong young man, the son of a U.S. congresswoman and, as it happens, an amateur escape artist. He spends most of the story on the run from a tribe of self-styled Amazons bent on eliminating the last vestige of patriarchy. He is also trying, with a bioengineer who may be responsible for the worldwide "gendercide," to figure out why he survived; hoping to reach his girlfriend in Australia; and, of course, contemplating the repopulation of the planet. Rather pedestrian artwork doesn't do much to liven the story, though its straightforwardness imparts deadpan believability to such ramifications as the female secretary of agriculture ascending to the presidency. Fast-paced anyway, the yarn introduces a large number of intriguing characters and plotlines as it lays the groundwork for what promises to be a compelling series. Gordon Flagg
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
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Top Customer Reviews
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.
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.)
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.