Y: The Last Man
Vol 1: Unmanned
Brian K. Vaughan, Pia Guerra & Jose Marzan Jr.
Y: The Last Man is a comic book series that takes place in a world where every male the world over has died as the result of a mysterious plague. The plague is not exclusive to humans, males of every species, from flies to cows to giraffes suffer the same fate. The only two male survivors are a man named Yorick and his pet monkey, Ampersand.
The series is brilliantly written, I’ve read the first six volumes and I’m going to go back through them again before completing the series.
Its main strength is its characters. Each one feels very believable, even those in unbelievable situations like 355, a government agent working for a secret branch called the culper ring. She’s a character that feels very alien in a “real world” context, but is written well enough that she feels like a real person. She’s harsh but has genuine vulnerabilities.
All of the characters are three dimensional, none are simple good or bad, each has their own flaws, moments of weakness.
This first volume mainly sets up the action, the entire first issue basically showing off the extent of the plague and introducing our main cast. The rest of the trade brings the characters together and sets them off on their quest to use Yorick to help create a cure for the plague.
It feels very expository, very much the opening chapter to a larger body of work, which of course, it is. However, this means that the first trade doesn’t hold up too well as an individual story and anyone picking it up should really be doing so with the intention of continuing with the series.
That’s not to say that it’s not enjoyable on its own, but not a single arc is closed in the book, every question raised left unanswered unless you go on to pick up the next book.
The art is great and the colouring too, while it keeps quite a neutral or dark palette it never gets too dark and there’s some room for vibrancy too, it’s well balanced.
If I had one complaint about the art, it would be that, pretty much all the female cast have the same, thin, “comic book girl” body type. While the art never relies on cheesecake poses (unless called for), it’s still very obvious that all the women are a little too “ideal”. This is a problem that gets better as the series progresses but it’s a shame that a series with such well written female characters, can’t quite get out of that stereotypical comic book template when it comes to their appearances.
Y: The Last Man is a great series, this first book feels a little slow but if you’re intending on going the distance with the series it’s well worth picking up.