Hopefully, you’ve all done your homework assignment and read the first issue of Y: The Last Man by Brian K. Vaughan and Pia Guerra. If not, here’s some reasons why you should have.
1) You like shows like Lost, Fringe, Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Really anything that qualifies as character driven, accessible sci-fi or fantasy.
2) You enjoy the works of Stephen King. (His books, not the films based on his books).
3) You enjoy, um. I can’t think of a filmic counterpart to this, but Vaughan inserts all kinds of pop culture references so if you’ve enjoyed a Kevin Smith or Quentin Tarantino film here or there, there’s something for you here.
So, I’ve gone through some broad reasons why you might like this. If enough folks are interested, perhaps we can do a book-clubby walkthrough of the trades,* but for now, I’m gonna go just a level beyond broad recommendation and give a basic outline of the plot, as well as the strengths of the writer and artist.**
First off, I should tell you that the series opens with a catastrophic event: all the men are killed at the same time via a mysterious plague. Do not go into this series looking for an answer to this. Much like in life, there are various people who offer explanations as to why things have happened, but all are to be taken with a grain of salt. Make it a grain of sea salt. The extra salt will help it go down a little easier for all you “everything needs to be explained types.”
What should you be looking to get out of this, if not answers to why the men died? An emotional roller coaster. Yeah, that’s right, I pulled out the generic movie poster critic quote. But if this series hits you the same way it hit me, then the following will occur: You’ll laugh. You’ll be invested in these characters. You may get an erection. You’ll cry. Goddamn, will you cry (Final Issue). You’ll presented with a world in which everything has changed yet remained the same.
Another thing to expect: Cliffhangers Like A Mother Fucker. Again, I’ll call back to LOST. There’s a reason they brought BKV (How I will be referring to Brian K. Vaughan from this point on) onto that show. He knows how to make you salivate for the next installment like nobody’s business.
AND, INTRODUCING: I Don’t Know How to Talk About Art Good: If we go through things in more detail, I’ll scan things, I’ll take photos, I will show you examples of how Pia Guerra is a great artist. But for now, know this: characterization. In the world of comics, we’re talking about consistency in the look of a character, staying on model, making a character look believable in all their actions. Pia Guerra accomplishes this. Also, she makes a monkey EMOTE. You will look upon that monkey and weep. WEEP. (And laugh).
So, while I haven’t really followed up my last post with some legitimate or well written reasons to read this series, I’ve hopefully made you a little bit more excited to read it. Look at my last post, or Google all your reading options, and I’ll dive in a bit more into the series soon.
* Trades, or trade paperbacks are collections of comic books. Often collected 6 at a time, most modern comic books are “paced for the trade,” i.e. written in 6-issue story arcs so they can be collected neatly. Recently, a trend has begun to rebel about this, returning to classic “done in one” stories, or smaller 2-3 issue arcs that plant seeds for larger stories.
** While there are fill-in artists here and there during the series, for the most part I will be referring to Pia Guerra as the singular artist of this series. She co-created the characters with Brian K. Vaughan, and when there are fill-ins, they match her style. FYI, a fill-in artist is what it sounds like. It’s an artist who will take over for a single issue, or even multiple issues when the regular artist is unavailable.
2 thoughts on “Y: The Last Man by Brian K. Vaughan and Pia Guerra”
I liked Y: The Last Man a lot, but I have to say the only thing that constantly made me grit my teeth while reading was the incessant pop culture references. But that’s my particular kryptonite. Otherwise, it’s a great Children of Men / Twilight Zone / Planet of the Apes romp, with interesting thoughts about gender and society. And, oh man. That ending.
Forrest, I’ll mostly forgive Vaughan for the pop culture references, since like The Simpsons, it’s put some bits of culture on my radar that wasn’t there before, but it’s his factoids (“Did you know that an Israeli general kissed the Pope in 1972?”) that get to me.