Great comic books can be more than just muscular men in capes punching bad guys in the face. Sure, those books are still awesome, but some of the best stories in comics aren't about super-powered beings. They're about people and their reactions to events. In 2002, a book by writer Brian K Vaughan and artist Pia Guerra launched at Vertigo which told the simple, yet insanely complex, story of a man and his monkey called Y: THE LAST MAN.
Vertigo, a DC imprint, has always been known as the comic book company that tells more stories that veer away from the traditional cape books and tell more mature stories, many of which are mini-series. In the summer of 2002, Vertigo launched a new book, which would end of going down as one of the imprint's best series.
Y THE LAST MAN is the story of a young man, named Yorick Brown and his monkey Ampersand, both males in a world where every single male has died. That's right, every male on the planet, not just human males, has died in the world, and this story doesn't go the way you think it would. Yorick and Ampersand are off on a journey to find Yorick's fiance, Beth DeVille, in Australia, which is hard when you're the last of your kind and you end up on the run from Amazons, who think that God killed all the men on Earth for a reason.
What caused all the men in the world to die? Well, that's something that's explored most of this series. It's always a question in the back of the reader's mind: Is it mystical? Is it biological? The world teeters between normalcy and chaos as some of the women left in the world try to go on with their lives, while others just go all "Mad Max."
The book is a lot more than that though. It's about fighting for the future for the human race, while some people try and destroy it. It's a brilliant mixture of sanity and craziness. The chaos popping up around these characters only adds to the excitement of the overall goal of fixing the planet.
While the book mainly follows Yorick, there are some extremely compelling secondary characters in the book including Jennifer Brown, Yorick's mother who works for the government, Hero, who is Yorick's sister who seems a bit in over her head since the plague, Agent 355 (Three Fifty-Five), Yorick's bodyguard, and Dr Alison Mann who is the leading scientist on cloning and is looking for an answer to problem facing the world.
So why should you read this series? It's brilliant. From issue one to issue sixty, you'll be sucked in. It's incredibly engrossing and all of that is thanks to the writing of Brian K Vaughan. The characters are incredibly compelling and while everyone has their favorites, they'll all be characters the reader will become quickly attached to.
This book is also quite the emotional roller coaster. Aside from the final issue, a singular issue brought me to tears. Yeah, a comic made me tear up, quite a bit, for the first time. That's how connected I got to this series, and frankly, I'm still obsessed with it.
Artist Pia Guerra worked on the majority of this series and her style became just as important as anything else. It was consistently beautiful, and it's something you find yourself looking forward to with every issue. It's fantastic story telling though art, and it completely fits in with the Vertigo style many fans have become accustomed to.
This series also contains one of the very few times the last issue is a perfect fit to the rest of the series. It's one of my favorite singular issues of any series. It just concludes the series in a completely different way than expected, but it works. It will leave you satisfied. Sure, you may want more, but you'll be completely happy with what the creative team leaves you with.
Y: THE LAST MAN isn't a comic you should read. It's a comic you have to to read. It's required reading in order to be a comic book fan. It's a fabulous story about a man and his monkey in a world of women. The art and writing are top notch, and it's my favorite comic book series of all time. I've read it 3 times all the way through, and I'm currently going for a fourth. Trust me. It will have the same affect on you.
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