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Y: The Last Man

October 7, 2009

One of my favorite contemporary comic writers is Brian K. Vaughn. I currently own two of his series in trades and I’m curious to read his third one, or at least the other one that I know about.

Normally this is the part where I do a little background info on Vaughn but I don’t think I will for this one. Maybe I’ll save it for the last review I do of this particular series.

A little background about the actual series though.

Background: Y: The Last Man has been collected into 10 trades, each with between 5 and 7 issues collected in them. The first book, Unmanned, features issues 1 – 5.

The book is by Vaughn and artist Pia Guerra. Guerra is a great artist by the way. If you have a chance to pick up other books that feature her art I highly recommend it. According to her website Guerra has also done voice over work on cartoons, trading cards for Wizards of the Coast and various comics projects. But whatever, the point here is that her pencils are awesome.

Back to the background. The first trade was released in 2003.

And enough of that.

The Comic: Issues 1 – 5 focus on the immediate aftermath of a “plague” that killed every male animal and human on the plant save Yorick Brown and his Capuchin money, Ampersand.

For some reason every male on the planet is dead. Through his mother (a Democrat Rep. from Ohio) Yorick is sent on a mission to find a biology researcher Dr. Mann. He is accompanied by his Ampersand and an agent of the Culper Ring #355. His sister is involved as well but I’ll leave her plot line alone for now.

In the aftermath of the tragedy, the Secretary of Agriculture is made President due to everyone ahead of her in the line of succession being male. Also, a terrorist group calling themselves the Daughters of Amazon vow to destroy all things male, eventually this comes to include Yorick. Also, for whatever reason two Israeli military women come to America to find Yorick.

Yorick and 355 travel to Boston where they meet Dr. Mann and find out that they need to travel to California to get her research.

For an opening book Unmanned does a good job of giving you characters to like, and hate, and opens up their world for the reader. Yorick is easily likable so far, 355 is a cold assassin bitch but what do you want from a secret agent, the moneky is a little hellion, and Dr. Mann blames herself for the plague.

A lot happens in the first five issues but it feels well paced and the moves make sense. It’s not like Last Blood (reviewed last June) where a lot happens but the pacing was way too fast, things felt crammed into the story, and certain plot lines deviated wildly enough to hurt the main story.

Again, it should be emphasized that Guerra’s art is great. Normally I describe art as fun to look at or it really carries you through on its whimsy. Generally, especially with web comics, this is the case. Guerra’s art is not like that. In fact, I would dare say that it is serious. This is a style that’s down to business.

The people, the world, and the action feels realistic. While her backgrounds, and bodies are compelling what I think makes her stand out over other comics that I’ve read is the facial expressions that Guerra gives her characters. Without words you can generally feel what the characters are feeling just by their faces alone. It’s something that really boosts Vaughn’s story.

Y is one of the best series that I’ve ever had the pleasure of reading. Of course, it has it’s flaws Yorick and 355 are cliched arch-types, the story gets a little vague at times, and some plots are dropped without a good reason but Vaughn and Guerra make it work in an engaging way.

My Recommendation: If you couldn’t tell from the previous words, Fucking Read It. End of story.


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