Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Y: The Last Man: Unmanned - Brian K. Vaughan

Brian K. Vaughan is now a writer/producer on LOST, but before that he was well-known as an author of comic books and graphic novels. His series Y: THE LAST MAN, with art by Pia Guerra, ran for sixty issues, all of which have been collected in a series of ten trade paperbacks. I’ve just read the first one, UNMANNED. Vaughan takes the old “last man on earth” plot literally: his protagonist Yorick Brown is the only man left alive after some mysterious plague kills every other man on Earth in a matter of seconds, leaving all the women alive. It’s not just the male humans who die, though. Every mammal with a Y chromosome does. Chaos ensues.

Yorick manages to get from New York to Washington, where he finds his mother, who’s a congresswoman. He makes the acquaintance of a woman he knows only as Agent 355, who works from a top-secret government intelligence operation. Together, they try to find a biochemical researcher who may be able to figure out what happened and what to do about it. There are some other characters, like Yorick’s sister who falls in with a group of fanatics called the Amazons, who believe all the men were justly struck down by fate because of their crimes against women. Oh, and Yorick has a monkey, too.

As you may have gathered, there’s ample room here for satire and political incorrectness along with the action, and Vaughan provides plenty of all three of those things. I thought early on in UNMANNED that the writing was going to get so heavy-handed I’d have to set the book aside, but I stuck with it and wound up enjoying it. The story is fast-paced and occasionally funny. Vaughan has an especially good touch with the dialogue. The art by Pia Guerra is excellent. She co-created the series with Vaughan and has a stronger feel for clear layouts and storytelling than a lot of modern comics artists.

I have all ten volumes of this series, and I enjoyed the first one enough that I’m sure I’ll read through the others fairly quickly. I probably won’t post about all of them, but if the quality holds up to the end, I think I can safely say that Y: THE LAST MAN will get my recommendation.


Bruce said...

Read the whole series and it totally holds up. Thanks to the fact Vaughn wrote it all and had it mapped out from the start. Well paced that makes you grab the next book or issue plus there is a great Destroyer refrence in the last book.

James Reasoner said...

Thanks, Bruce. I'll be looking for that Destroyer reference.