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.