Y: The Last Man - Review

Y: The Last Man caught my attention through a very well made fanvideo on YouTube titled "Y: The Last Man Rising" (for the video click here). Immediately i had to do research on this comic series only to find out that it's quite a big deal in the comic book scene. Next to various negotiations about a possible movie adaptation it's widely considered one of the finest comics from big company Vertigo.
The premise of a post-apocalyptic world that doesn't have economical problems like the Mad Max series but more of a shortage of (dick) Men, was a concept that i never heard of before.
With my curiosity at max i quickly got addicted to reading the whole series through in a short amount of weeks. Was it worth it?

Y: The Last Man consists out of 60 issues

The comic series Y: The Last Man is about the only man to survive the apparent simultaneous death of every male mammal (barring the same man's pet monkey) on Earth. In this post-apocalyptic World only populated by women, Yorick is accompanied by a special agent hired by the government called Agent 355 and Asian scientist Dr. Mann. Together, they are looking for a cure for the virus and most importantly a future for mankind.  (source: Wikipedia)
Let's get one thing out of the way first: Y: The Last man is a great comic series. Rarely i got so addicted to reading a comic as with this one (the other one being Preacher).
With that said, that doesn't mean that Y is a flawless comic.

But let's start with the story:
The story is great but not perfect. 90% of Yorick's journey is very adventurous and smoothly to read and experience. The cliffhangers at the end of each comic are some of the finest i've ever seen, with only about 5 issues having very weak to no ones.
The story is very well told and focuses not only on Yorick but also some other major characters whose journeys cross at several points leading up to suspensful encounters.
While most of those crossovers make sense storywise, often it felt pretty far-fetched to me how fate just chose to lead those characters together at one specific point several times while they are traveling across the entire fucking globe. But then again it's just fiction (COMIC fiction).
However, as i said, the encounters Yorick and his friends have with the various antagonist groups are very tensful. More than once i was pretty disturbed how quickly things escalate and lead to a major character's death.

"OMG! Who is gonna open our pickle jars now?!"

But the encounters don't always have to be of violent nature. During their journey, Yorick also has to battle his inner sexual desires. With him having a girlfriend on the other side of the globe, it gets very hard for him to withstand all the sexual offers by various women made to him.

Y: The Last Man is heavily reliant on character development. While for the most part being very convincing in that department, there are some moments here and there where you just don't buy a character's sudden characteristic twist (mostly we are talking homosexuality here).

The journey itself takes the heroes across the entire globe and therefore makes it very adventurous. However, with every main story arc in the series, there's also some that just don't move the main story forward a single bit. Story arcs like the heroes' cruise on a ship to Japan neither gives any big insight into the characters nor does it lead to anywhere else (other then Japan). While still somehow entertaining, in the end it turns out to be just filler that just wastes your time and holds back the main story.

The comic has a very good sense of balancing comedy and serious drama. You really get attached to the protagonists and their unique personalites, which makes the comic's last issues incredibly tense to read, due to the fact that towards the end the series at times becomes gut-bustingly sad.
(But don't worry it has a satisfying ending).

Typically for Vertigo, Y has incredibly awesome cover art.

Another thing that makes the world of Y come alive, is the little details scattered throughout the narration. At numerous moments we get glimpses and explanations of how the economy in this female world works without the participation of men. It is very well thought out and only occasionally stretches into unbelivablity.

Ever heard of the phrase that women would only argue with each other in a world without men? Well, there you have it.

The characters that really stand out in Y are mostly the main characters. While many side-characters do their job well and occasionally lead to a sad death or another heartbreaking moment, they rarely manage to come out memorable.

Yorick however is the one that steals the show. He is the perfect young male to be thrown into this world. With him mostly being a wisecracking smartass busting out several great movie lines and pop-culture references that make soooo many moments in the comic hilarious, you also buy his dramatic facette when things start to get serious. Especially in the end. While every male reader can somehow picture himself in his situation, he never loses his own very sympathetic personality.

Other main characters like Agent 355 and Dr. Mann represent the exact opposite to Yorick. They are mostly cold and calculating and completely focused on the mission. The great thing is not only that this situation triggers the main comedy in Y, but also that throughout the journey you see how each of them affects the other one's character. Yorick being the valuable but mostly annoying wiseass, Agent 355 being the muscles of the group and Dr. Mann being the brains, it might be a clichee constellation at first, but it gets more and more interesting through various backgroundstories being revealed and with them interacting with each other in serious moments.

The antagonists are all over the place in Y. Mainly the antagonists that mostly occure are female bandits luring through the wasteland called "Amazons". Most of the time those groups are lead by a strong and frightenedly manly behaving female leader with various motivations.
The motivations differ: from general hate towards the male gender, over personal reasons, to pretty ridiculous ones that i won't spoil (read issue 59/60 to find out) they are all over the place. Some more convincing than others. 

The fanmade film shows the series' great TV potential.

Overall, Y: The Last Man is a superb comic that is very easy to get into (different from other Vertigo comics like Transmetropolitan).
A movie adaptation would be a definitive misstep. Y is a perfect example of a comic series a la Walking Dead that would be perfect as a TV series. It is easily producable (due to a main focus on drama) and has countless great cliffhangers.
As i said, it has quite some dry story arcs here and there that turn out to be filler and some shallow aspects regarding rapid character development or unconvcing motivations of some antagonists but overall it's a great experience that i would immediately suggest to every comic reader.

One of the best comics of Vertigo? Well, i haven't read every Vertigo publication that there is but after such a great reading experience i can only say: Read it! You won't waste your time!

Final Verdict: 9 out of 10 

1 comment:

  1. Praise was what got me into reading this comic as well. Unfortunately, the expectations I put into it due to the hype, were disappointed. In numerous occasions the storyline felt just like a bunch of "episodes" were thrown together. Usually this would be fine by me, but I often found myself wondering where the connections between the different events pictured are. These bumps in story and the, in my opinion, very shallow depiction of the different kinds of female societies emerging from the desaster, were what ruined the comic for me. It's still a great one, but you shouldn't dive into it with as much expectations as I did.