Yorick Brown is on the phone trying to propose to his girlfriend, who is away doing research in Australia, when a catastrophic event wipes out everything with a Y chromosome. In the blink of an eye, Yorick and his monkey Ampersand, for reasons that are unclear, are the last surviving males on the planet. That’s the starting point for Y: the Last Man, a comic series written by Brian K. Vaughan and illustrated by Pia Guerra and Jose Marzan, Jr.
In the ensuing chaos, planes fall from the sky, highways are cluttered with cars full of dead men, and the few women of congress (one of whom is Yorick’s mother) battle for control of the U.S. Presidency, as the only female cabinet officer, the Secretary of Agriculture, is reluctant to take up the role. Various plot lines follow Yorick’s attempt to reach his mother and girlfriend, the battle for control of Washington, the mysterious agent 355, a genetic researcher whose work may be the only hope for repopulation, some militant Israeli army officers, and the emergency of Amazons, a group of women who interpret the disappearance of men as some kind of proof from God that males were scum and the proper order has been restored. It’s hard to say what will happen, but one thing is sure: Yorick, previously nothing much more than a third-rate escape artist, is now a very hot commodity.
This series isn’t particularly cutting edge. The art is nicely done but not revolutionary. I’m recommending it because the premise is intriguing and Vaughan delivers the fun. One good thing about graphic novels is that the serial format allows writers to explore complex, many threaded situations, like an apocalyptic event, in a way that can only be accomplished at the cost of great length in prose or film. In comics, the storytelling remains tight, with plenty of action, but there is room to explore many different aspects of this big gender die off without becoming ponderous. Y: the Last Man is fun and thought-provoking at the same time, without ever becoming too taxing on a reader looking for something that isn’t too heavy.
Check the WRL Catalog for Y: the Last Man