Saturday, February 2, 2008

Book of the Week 1-30-08

Y, The Last Man 60
Written by Brian K Vaughn and illustrated by Pia Guerra
Published by DC/Vertigo

Y is one of only a handful of stories that I was able to read from the very beginning and follow the series through to its conclusion. Preacher and Bone were the others. While I was a big fan of Sandman and Cerebus, too, I had started reading those series several issues into their runs.

There’s something special about being with a series from start to finish. In a time when fans are blasting reboots and retcons of their favorite longtime characters from Marvel and DC, the lure of a finite series like Y is that you know that there is a definite story to be told along with an ending in mind. It keeps the filler down to a minimum.

Y, The Last Man focuses on Yorick Brown, the only male left on a planet after a plague kills everyone on Earth with a Y chromosome. What would the world be like if there were no more men left? Could society function at all? For over five years, Vaughn and Guerra revealed their new world to us and managed to entertain and make us think.

Like the Preachers and Sandmans before it, fans of Y were speculating on the end for some time now. After the cause of the plague was seemingly explained, Yorick’s reunion with Beth and the death of 355, there didn’t seem to be any huge revelations or shocks that the book could have left. The cover of the final issue was revealed several months ago and everyone had a guess on the possible outcome and I think everyone was proven wrong.

Vaughn certainly didn’t go the route that I expected, but maybe I’ve become too cynical as a comic book reader and didn’t believe that someone could pull off the great finale. As much as I liked the Preacher series I felt that the final issue was a bit of a let-down. Same goes for Cerebus. But the Y finale works on many levels.

We don't get any answers in terms of the plague, but the cause of why all the men died was never important to the story. It’s all about how Yorick and the rest of humanity survive afterwards. It’s about a young man and his relationship to the women around him. It’s about the effect that these different women have on Yorick as he experiences life. In the first issue, there is a moment where Yorick is talking about how he’s become almost agrophobic and doesn’t want to leave the house anymore. Interestingly enough his journey to save the world took him across the globe.

The book was always more about the characters than the actual 'gimmick' of the plague and Vaughn ties up all the plotlines with those main characters in a very believable way. The finale of this series is filled with moments of laughter, grief, and despair, but most of all, this issue is about hope. There were a few moments in the book where my emotions almost got the better of me, particularly with one of the main 'goodbye' scenes.

Given the events of the previous few issues, it was going to be impossible for readers to get a fairy tale like happy ending, but the final image in this epic story is as memorable and uplifting as any fan could hope for. Y, is a modern classic and the creative team gave us a series finale worthy of this legendary run.

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