John Wiswell's Reviews > Y: The Last Man, Vol. 1: Unmanned

Y by Brian K. Vaughan
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Feb 21, 08

Recommended to John by: Seemingly every friend who reads comics
Recommended for: Comics readers, apocalyptic fiction readers, "genre" readers
Read in February, 2008

I'm a sucker for post-apocalyptic fiction, and once this picked up it was pretty good. The beginning is painfully slow, as Vaughn tried to crowbar way too many characters into one chapter, right before the catastrophe that wipes out all men on earth, save out titular Last Man. What comes after that is much more interesting, either featuring some semi-fresh character or a clever twist on the devastated world (not being anti-feminist, but all the men dropping dead would be almost a 49% massacre of the human population, and that would wreck world economies even if the world weren't so chauvinistic). Mostly the story has sprawling promise, and this volume just plants seeds for later intrigue, based on several coincidences that are almost too good to be true (brother, sister and mother are separated but play vital roles in the world, three different possibly causes for the catastrophe all unfolding simultaneously, etc.).

The art is okay, if simple and basic - so simple that there are barely any backgrounds, and so simple that I didn't realize the scientist was Asian until they brought it up a hundred pages in. It mostly sets the scene so that the writer can make his characters talk. This is a very talking-oriented book, with action largely put at the end of a chapter as a cliffhanger.

People do exclaim, "Jesus!" a little too often. I don't mind the blasphemy, but eventually you realize they're taking the Christian Lord's name in vain because somebody is surprised every four frickin' pages, often by stuff we don't care about or wouldn't find surprising. Seeing people be startled wears really thin over 120 pages.

It's also funny that after two months of blending in under a gas mask and cloak that Yorick doesn't seem to know anything about the way the world has changed. A couple of times I mistook him for the generic Rip Van Winkle protagonist who sleeps through the crisis and needs everything explained to him. Here we have someone who was surviving through the whole thing and somehow remained entirely naive (right down to not knowing "having a dick doesn't make you invincible," which strikes me as the sort of thing I'd realize really quickly). Hopefully Yorick will develop into something deep and compelling down the line, but he doesn't do it here. In this volume the ladies are the repository of personality, and the main character is largely an observer.
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Kelly B yeah, I agree that the beginning is slow and has a lot of characters. And for some reason, the gang of lesbians who are super violent and want to kill men just kinda turned me off--I just don't buy it at all, and I think that in itself is anti-feminist. And really, do lesbians give a shit about guys? I think straight and gay women alike do have other things to think about. Besides all that, I may give the second volume a try...


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