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Y The Last Man

I know. I usually try to write this column to bring you, the reader, a review of a comic that may have slipped under your radar. Maybe it comes out of one of the smaller publishers, or maybe it's just something from the Big Two that didn't get a lot of press, but it's usually something that hasn't had more press coverage than the State of the Union Address.

Until now.

Unless you read your comics by candlelight inside of Hal's Bad Caverns, then you have heard of Y The Last Man. I don't think there is one reviewer in the comic industry who does not love (or at least wants to go steady with) this book. So, in a moment of weakness, I picked it up. Thank heaven for moments of weakness.

In case you haven't heard, Y is the story of Yoric Brown, amateur escape artist, unemployed college grad, and last man on Earth. In the summer of 2002, an virus of unknown origin killed every animal on Earth possessing a Y-chromosome, everything except Yoric and his pet monkey Ampersand.

Now Yoric has to find his way first to Washington D.C., and then across the country in an effort to discover why he's still alive and kicking, all the while avoiding opportunistic former-supermodels, armed Republican wives (feel the fear in that one), and a cult of women who think a world without men is just fine (and boy, do they plan to keep it that way).

Brian K. Vaughn writes one of the most intriguing stories in comics today. All the praise he gets is deserved. Put aside that x-rated (and invariably fun) fantasy of being the last man on Earth. What would happen to the American, for that matter, all government systems with no men? Who takes over when 90% of the government is dead? And if a man showed up, what would happen to him (and believe me, it's nothing like a Jenna Jameson movie)?

Vaughn addresses all these questions in Y, including touching on subjects like militant feminism, and continued racism. It's great to see a comic that is so incredibly out there as far as concept, but still grounded in reality.

Vaughn also scores double points for characterization and handling fairly large cast. Yoric is a great lead character (despite his apparent need to show anyone who wanders by that he is indeed a phallic possessed individual) and very human, as his first concern after checking in with remaining family is to set off to find his fiancé and get to repopulating.

Agent 355 is a great straight-laced opposite to play against Yoric, while she spends most of her time protecting Yoric from his own stupidity. Vaughn has a great touch for the female characters, from Yoric's Senator mother to the cult leader of the Amazons (the militant feminist group out to make sure the worlds stays penis free). Some of the female characters are strong, some are soft, but all are believable in the way they are portrayed in a world without men.

I'm also impressed with the art on this book. Penciled by Pia Guerra and inked by Jose Marzan Jr., this is good comic work. Guerra's style is realistic and very expressive. The facial expressions of his characters are felt more than seen, and Guerra even seems to make the eyes of his characters expressive. This is more like watching well directed cinematography than reading a comic in the way he sets up panels and paces the story.

I've said it before (maybe not in a review for anyone who's looking to catch me in a continuity error), but an artist who can pace a story well will always make a good story better. It might even make a crap book good (anyone over at Marville listening?). I'd also like to give a nod to Marzan, who's inks give the book a nice and clean look. His inks really make Guerra's pencils crisper, which just further augments the greatness of this book.

I really like this book, and I usually try to never agree with the hype (mostly in an effort to be difficult and cooler than people who cater to "the Man," man) but Y hooked me. My only regret is that this is the collection of the first five issues, and the second is probably far off. At $12.95, Daddy needs a fix, and his fixes are cheap and damn DC/Vertigo for not putting out the second volume already. Damn them right to Vertigo Hell (now being run by back-up angels, as Satan has left the building).

Y - The Last Man

Robert Sparling

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