SERIES REVIEW: Y: The Last Man

WRITER: Brian K. Vaughan
ARTIST(s): Pia Guerra, José Marzán, Jr., Paul Chadwick
LETTERER: Clem Robins
COLORIST: Pamela Rambo
COVER ARTIST(s): J.G. Jones, Massimo Carnevale
PUBLISHER: Vertigo Comics
RELEASE DATE: 2002-2008

I recently got my copy of the Absolute Y: The Last Man volume 1 hardcover in the mail, so it inspired me to write a review of what I consider to be the greatest comic book, story-wise, I’ve ever read. Truly, this, along with BKV’s other smash-hit Saga, are the two comics I quite literally throw at people who say that our medium is juvenile and childish.

Y is the story of Yorick Brown, the last man alive on Earth after every other male organism (with the exception of his pet monkey, Ampersand) dies mysteriously all at once. It’s an amazing story, written with top-notch pacing and dialogue that I personally use as a model when writing my own comics. All in all, it feels real, even though it draws from fantastical ideas. And that’s something that’s not easy to achieve. The only thing I wish I could have gotten from reading this story is the exploration of some more ideas. I mean, BKV seemingly had a hundred different stories to tell, but I’d have liked to see some other, deeper ideas of gender introduced. What happens to masculinity when trans men (who wouldn’t be affected by the death of all XY beings) are now the only ones carrying the torch forward in any kind of societal way? Or, how would the story have been hypothetically different if the inverse had happened and only one woman had survived? That being said, concepts like bisexuality and attraction were amazingly well-delved into, as was the look at misandrous women, epitomized here by the infamous Daughters of the Amazon. So, even though I wish the series had been longer, and that more ideas had been explored, I do give the writing Mr. BKV gives us a well-deserved perfect score.

In art, I find myself continually explaining my likes/dislikes of the art by comparing it to the style Fiona Staples provides in the aforementioned Saga, another BKV-penned classic. While in that series, the art provides a whole new layer of beauty, and exemplifies all the best traits of the writing, Pia Guerra’s art in this series does not. Basically, I would buy a book of just Saga‘s art with few internal questions. I would not, however, with Guerra’s art. But that being said, there is a justification for this distinction. Saga is about an exploration of themes not unlike Y, but it focuses on the building of a universe and the relationships built between love and hatred, war and…well, fucking, as so eloquently explained in the series. But Y is much more grounded, and much more of a narrative. It’s a true progression from Point A to Point B, and so the art needs to move the story along, but not change the way the writing is viewed. So, I would argue, that for this particular comic, Pia Guerra is truly the perfect artist for the job, and I appreciate her skill on this series for its specific quality.

This review encompasses 60 issues, so obviously the supporting artists will vary, but overall, the inking done by José Marzán, Jr. and the covers by J.G. Jones and Massimo Carnevale were great in their respective duties. Inks furthered the art’s storytelling ability while remaining subtle when necessary, and all the covers portrayed a hyperactive look at the comic inside. Clem Robins creates a lettering scheme that keeps the story flowing perfectly, with no hiccups, and the colors work masterfully with the inks to advance the narrative.

Y: The Last Man is one of the few stories I would recommend to everyone. Currently, it’s being released in three Absolute versions (the first of which is gorgeous), which will be released over the next year or so. It’s already been released in ten paperbacks, or five deluxe editions. Basically, my point is that it’s very accessible and easy to get your hands on, without devoting hundreds of dollars to the very sought-after floppies. From a simple story viewpoint, it’s a masterpiece. From a comic viewpoint, it’s the greatest look into gender issues and narrative out there. From Stephen King’s viewpoint, it’s the best graphic novel he’s ever read, apparently. So, my point is, get out there and read this book, no matter what it takes. And then contact me so we can discuss this book in great detail, spoilers be damned.

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