Y: The Last Man – Volume 1 – Unmanned – Brian K. Vaughan

The premise is that every living male (human and animal) dies at the same time leaving the planet populated entirely by females. This is a unique idea and allows for a lot of introspection on the role that sex or gender has played in shaping our culture and societies across the globe. It also allows for speculation on what kind of a brave new world would a single sex forge. This is science fiction at its best.

For the sake of drama one man has survived, naturally an American, and naturally an aimless, twenty-something slacker. His male pet monkey has also survived too. We follow our titular hero, Yorick, as various people want to get their hands on him, for good or ill, and as he journeys halfway across this woman-filled globe to meet up with his fiancé. He is well-read, cynical and wisecracking enough to make a good guide through this dysfunctional new reality.

The art is expertly drawn but quite understated having a very clean, almost pop-art flavour to it. The layout is superb. With several stories being told the choice of when to cut between them and when to show them all on the same page is spot on. The writing is good but the storytelling, the way in which facts are revealed, the jumping backward and forward in time is exemplary. The introduction and payoff in the first issue alone is superb. There is a lot of show don’t tell in which questions are asked and the only answer is the character’s expression, which is just how this medium should be used. Even the lettering steps up its game with speech bubbles overlapping each other to help you know what order to read them in. And when many people talk at once the letters encroach on each other making it impossible to read just as in a real conversation.

This is technically the perfect comic with a bold concept, incredible structure, real innovation and a unique style. It is very Americentric however. Many of the political and cultural references might be lost to the overseas reader. I also got the sense that the author was definitely soap-boxing about his politics too, which would be fine in a subtle way, but too heavy handed in this instance. Having such a large, almost all female, ensemble cast does put a strain on both the writer and artist to differentiate them and make them unique. Hopefully they will establish their independence as the issues progress.

This is an amazing start that effortlessly sweeps a bold Thumbs Up!


Tomorrow: Y: The Last Man – Volume 2 – Cycles – Brian K. Vaughan

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