American Comic: Y The Last Man

December 14th, 2006

The American comic Y, The Last Man has been on my “to review” list for months and months, but I just never quite found the time. I think “Anything at all but not another schoolgirl, I beg you!” week is the perfect time, don’t you?

Let me preface with review with the statement that I think, in general, this is a pretty good series. I needed to say that first, because most of my comments are going to be negative and it will sound like I hated the series…when, in fact, I didn’t.

To begin with, the plot of Y, The Last Man is a non-Eva post-apocalyptic world. One day, quite suddenly, all the males in the world drop dead. Except one. Hence the title.

The “Last Man” is Yorick. And here is my first complaint.

I can totally understand the appeal of the “everyman” character as a lead. I really can. What I can NOT understand is the appeal of the “nebbish loser” character as a lead. Yorick is a rich kid who is a huge slacker loser who, instead of sitting around playing video games and smoking dope, as one would expect, is sitting around practicing escape tricks and who has a pet monkey he can’t train. Oooookkkkaaayyy. If it works for you…

Secondly, immediately after all the men die, every woman we encounter appears to go completely mad. Any woman with any kind of governmental power is seen to be outrageously insane and make the stupidest and most illogical decisions possible. And lots of pockets of insane cults pop up…instantly. Like within a week.

Third. Every single character who is, or can perceived to be, a lesbian at the beginning of the book is not only insane, but also likely to be drugged, psychotic and evil. And while I like three of the four, they are also often boring ranting lunatics, which is simply dreadful.

And lastly, the thing that made me stop reading somewhere in Volume, 6 or maybe it was 7…or 8, was this; after *two years* we’re told that there are still no medicines and pharmaceuticals being made and distributed.

Now, I’m sorry. Two YEARS? I can personally vouch for the fact that about 1/3 of the folks who work in major global pharma firms are women. 6 months, tops. I can absolutely see production being stopped as all the women regrouped initially. But to think that, after TWO YEARS, womenkind – that is, 51% of the current population of the planet – hadn’t managed a single decent power grid, or distribution of food and medicine…that’s just plain insulting.

All that having been said, there is one major character who is a lesbian, and is not an insane raving lunatic-type psychotic…mostly. Dr. Allison Mann is a competent, intelligent and attractive woman who happens to be a lesbian. Her “coming out” was handled well; she is well past lesbian drama and throughout the whole story manages to stay interesting, intelligent, witty and only goes a teeny bit insane. (It is totally not her fault that she’s given an incredibly stupid backstory.)

Allison does manage to have sex and everything in the course of the story – without her or her lover dying. There’s got to be an award for that or something. The first time, it’s a “well that was a bad choice, but oh well, let’s move on, it was stupid but there you have it,” kind of thing, and her reaction when her erstwhile lover, 355, overreacts is the most realistic scene in the book. Later Allison nabs herself a hunky doodle of an Australian (supposedly) ex-intelligence officer, Rose. I didn’t trust her as far as I could kick her, but then I stopped caring and stopped reading.

So, as I said, overall, good series….

…but, fuck you Brian K. Vaughn and same to whomever wrote the Wikipedia entry with this line: “Y: The Last Man is Vaughan’s attempt to subvert the classic male fantasy of being the last man on earth.” No. There’s no suberversion there. It’s the same thing all over again. Loser guy is last man on earth. Wow. How original. Never been done before. We’ve come a long way, baby.

Ratings:

Art – 7
Story – 5
Characters – 7 tapering to 5 as the story goes on and they get weaker to support stupider and more outrageous plot complications.
Yuri – As a whole 3. Allison – 9
Service – 4

Overall – 7 tapering to 5 as the series goes on and….

Oh, and while we’re on the subject of American Comics, a hearty double fuck you to DC Comics for calling their new line designed to “get girls reading comics”, Minx. No…no condescension there. Uh-huh. Hardly at all.

So, after thinking about it, I sent this email to DC:

Dear DC,

I have the Beowulf comic you published in the 80’s where the “scop” uses lines like “Happy Birthday Caroline” backwards as magic spells and Beowulf looks like the Michelin Man. I will not hesitate to blackmail you with it if necessary. So listen up.

Girls already read comics. We always have. We *would* just really like to have female characters who are unabashedly whatever they are without justification or condescension. Calling a line “Minx” (which is the kind of thing letchs call women in trashy novels (“You little minx, you”) is not a good way to draw in women.

Hope that helps.

Sincerely,

Erica

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6 Responses

  1. Lee Kottner says:

    Dear DC,
    What she said, except for the part about the Beowulf comic.
    Sincerely,
    Another Disgruntled Female Comic Reader

    (Lee)

  2. Lee Kottner says:

    And freakin’ fie on Marvel too, while we’re at it: http://thatsmyskull.blogspot.com/2006/12/when-titans-clash.html

    Please tell me they’re not seriously gonna call it Bikiniverse.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Oh come on, half the earth’s population dies, men women or mixed, and you don’t think the remaining half will go crazy? I mean, there’s an awful lot of psychos, cults, and incompitent governments around now even without a global calamity.

    And as for the pharmasutical companies: even if they were staffed entirely by women, it wouldn’t matter, because (according to the comic) the global economic infrastructure is so damaged that NOTHING works anymore. For instance, just to make electricity, you need fuel, which needs transportation, and parts, which need to be manufactured and transported, and miles and miles and miles of perfectly undamaged electric lines; one line going down can take out power in half a city. You may have experienced these “power outages” even without all men dying. And repairing those lines requires skilled workers and specialized equipment and parts, all of which have to be maintained and so on. Our modern world is remarkably dependent on there being a modern world around to keep itself going, which makes it surprisingly fragile.

    Um, wow, that just flowed out of me for no reason. Which is odd, because I’ve also lost interest in actually reading Y.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Oh well DC sucks that’s nothing new really, but I find their Vertigo stuff to be a bit better than the rest of the US comics that are around. Personally I love Y, for me the best series around at the moment, but I’m also a big fan of Brian’s writing. So I might overlook the weaker points of the book.

    It’s not that women don’t read comics, coz we do. It’s that they keep releasing crap and the comics targeted at women are usually even worse.

  5. OMG, Lee, I HAVE to show that Beowulf comic. It’s…let’s just say that whatever the editors were smoking that month must have been powerful stuff to make that comic seem like a good idea. :-)

  6. Anonymous says:

    Lesbanality aside, I’m cringing at the banter from the supposedly Australian chicks throughout the series.

    Listening to their “crikey struth, mate” is akin to the British character doing the ol’ “I say ol’ chap, jolly good show, spot n’ bother, eh what? Pip pip!” idiocy.

    Oh but of course the British don’t speak like that old cliche, so naturally you wouldn’t find it in modern comics.

    I mean mateship’s arsed to the barbie, bloody dinkum right shagger?

    Kisses XXOOXX
    Jen

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