Friday, April 18, 2014

Y: The Last Man. Our Last Hope. He's An Idiot.

I've heard fantastic things about Brian Vaughn's Saga series, but it's always checked out at the library, and I'm still waiting for Vol. 1 to come in for me.  While waiting, I figured that I'd check out one of his other series: Y: The Last Man.

Just so you know, I'm still going to read Saga, since one of my coworkers called it, "One of the best things going on in comics today," so duh, yes, I'm going to read it.  I just won't be reading more of Y.  I don't think.  Well, maybe.  I might want to see if it got any better.  I'm also a book masochist.

So, the basic premise is that something (ooga-booga-booga!) wipes out ALL THE MEN on Earth.  They just keel over.  Plop.  Goners.  All except ... our hero.  Naturally.  Well, him and his pet capuchin monkey (also a male).
y the first man unmanned
Not a lot happens in this first volume.  It goes something like this:

1) All the men die.
2) Main character shows up in Washington, D.C.
3) Main character leaves Washington, D.C. to go on a quest.

It's pretty basic.  As far as a potential story, there is a lot of play in it.  Vaughn could have done a lot of different things.  However, most of the subplots introduced don't bring anything fresh or new to the idea.

The concept of a plague or mysterious weapon destroying half of the population isn't new--in fact, it feels a bit pulpy, a bit Edgar Rice Burroughs to me.  There could be a noir with one of those iconic covers: a dame with full red lips, smoking a cigarette, thigh-high stockings, a tagline, "When men are away, the women will play..."  You know.  That sort of thing.  And, unfortunately, that's pretty much what you get with Y.

After all the men die, women evidently drive around in skimpy tops and short shorts in order to collect rotting bodies.  As you do.  They form tribes of "Amazons" where they do the whole radial mastectomy thing (the narrator calls this "burning off a breast" but I assume it's implied that they cut off a breast and then burn, or cauterize, the wound.  You can see this in later illustrations.)  Not because they have to wield a bow (and I'm pretty sure women can shoot bows without lopping off a breast.  Exhibit A: katniss everdeen), but because ... I don't know?  The world is ending and all we can do is regress to Homeric fantasy???  Oh, and of course, they are all lesbians who want to kill any surviving men.  Instead of, you know, maybe having more babies to repopulate the Earth.  Gracious, that would be the sensible thing to do.  We can't have women be sensible now, can we?  They must be radical and scary and uniboobed!

So our protagonist, Yorick (yes, that's his name, more on that later), must get to Washington, D.C. to find his mother, who's a member of the House of Representatives.  Except now that all the men have died, she has a pretty important position in the White House (not the President, but close).  Of course, they are overjoyed to be reunited (blah blah blah), but Yorick feels that the most important thing to do is go to Australia, where his girlfriend was working abroad, and find her, since he proposed just as all the bad stuff went down.

Wait.  Stop.  You are the last man on Earth.  You are possibly the last hope for humanity as a species.  And instead of, you know, doing something scientific to help the ladies out, you decide to run away to Australia.  Which is on a different continent.  Across an ocean.

Q: Where is he going to get a ship?
A: That's not important right now!  We need more panels of gun-toting Amazons!  Hop to it!

O-kay.  Yorick's mother doesn't agree, but she also doesn't seem too keen on protecting Earth's newest most precious resource.  Instead, she sends him off with an agent who only has a number for a name, 355, to find a scientist who had done important work on cloning in the past.  They want to find out why Yorick and the capuchin lived and all the other men died.  She allows him to make fantastically stupid decisions, but somehow they make it and find the scientist but some Israeli women (???) torch the lab the end.

What?

Aside from the rather nonsensical "plot" and the horribly cliched world-building, the whole thing with names was pretty dumb.  Yorick gets all blushy and embarrassed when it comes up.  He explains that his dad was a Shakespearean scholar and professor, and gave them "obscure" names from Shakespeare.  Hmmm, last time *I* checked, Yorick from Hamlet was not completely unknown.  Doesn't everyone misquote the line about knowing him well?  Yorick (Vaughn's Yorick)'s sister is named Hero, who's one member of one of the two main couples in Much Ado About Nothing, which happens to be my favorite Shakespeare play.

 If you don't like that play, I don't think we can be friends.  Sorry.

Vaughn obviously wanted a Y name for the y chromosome and came up with Yorick and felt that it needed to be justified and then justified again.  I do like Hero as the name of his sister, since there is this whole question of gender and such in the series.  But then again, I like the original play, so: me=biased.

Another ridiculous part occurs when Yorick and Mom of Yorick are in the White House, and they hear something menacing.  Yorick asks what it is, or is it "zombies?"  Mom replies, "No, worse ... Republicans."  /awkward silence  Because ... everyone who reads comics is a ... Democrat?  (Note: I am neither a Republican nor a Democrat and I still thought the "joke" was stupid).

I might flip through the next volume when I have time to kill (so, never) just to see what happens.  Might.


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