Short Comic Review: Y, The Last Man

For some years now, I have only followed three regularly serialized comic book series, and two have been written by Brian K. Vaughan. I suppose that right there is an implicit endorsement for Y, a tale following a 22-year-old escape artist and the women determined to protect the future of his sex after a mysterious plague wipes out all other men on earth. It definitely has its high and low points; the other Vaughan series I read, Ex Machina, has less that feels like “filler,” I think. Also, part of me was kind of disappointed that the author gradually de-emphasizes the central mysteries about the “plague” itself. Still, I can’t help but feel like it ended up being just the story it needed to be. Considered alongside other Vertigo titles, such as Sandman and Transmetropolitan, I think this series represents what “mainstream” comics ought to be: self-contained, long-form stories, started with a specific conclusion in mind, not strung along indefinitely to line somebody’s pockets. (“Unless I’m in really dire financial straits and I have to do an Ampersand the Monkey spinoff,” the author allows. I wouldn’t hold it against him.)

One thing that bothers me about the series is the parallel explanations of the gendercide as being scientific and mystical in origin. I usually like the interplay of sci-fi and fantasy, but for some reason here it instead adds a lot of tension to the story in a way that really messes with my head instead of helping me enjoy it more. Just pick one already!

According to a couple interviews with BKV I read last night (which I’m having trouble finding now), there is a “real” explanation among those offered, but he prefers to let people decide which one they like best. He kind of implies that the answer might be hidden, rather than one of the big theories explained in dialog, but I’m not sure whether that’s just to keep people guessing (and rereading the series).

Hey Jason,

What’s the other comic you currently follow?

Scott Pilgrim. Come to think of it, though, I don’t even know if it’s regularly serialized or if it comes out a mini series or a volume at a time. If the latter, then I guess I should also include Courtney Crumrin and Hellboy, which I pick up when I think of it. Ex Machina, Scott Pilgrim, and (until recently) Y are the only comics I actively check “new releases” lists for, though.

[…] the same feeling of de-emphasis on the cause of the plague that killed the world’s men that Jason did, but perhaps that was just given the short period in which I read it. I agree with him, however, […]