Friday, May 15, 2009

Y: The Last Man, Volume 1: Unmanned by Brian K. Vaughan

As things have gotten a tad crazy lately, here's another graphic novel review (I am a fan of good graphic novels) while I finish up the current novel.

I had taken a break from reading graphic novels of any kind for years, and I was looking for a few to pick up. I ended up selecting the first books in a few series. One of these was Brian K. Vaughan's Y: The Last Man, illustrated by Pia Guerra and Jose Marzan, Jr. The premise of this book is simple: on July 17, 2002, all male mammals die. Well, almost. Yorick Brown, and his pet monkey Ampersand (named after the symbol &) both survive. Beyond that, not a lot of information is given. No one knows the true cause, and there are many conflicting theories.

Yorick, later with the help of Agent 355, seek out top geneticist Dr. Allison Mann. However, a group of extreme feminists, the Daughters of the Amazon, don't make this trip easy. At the same time, we are introduced to Alter Tse'elon, head of the Israeli military, and Yorick's girlfriend Beth, stuck in Australia.

Vaugan could have gone a lot of different ways with this world of women, and many of these ways could have been cheesy, but he really nails it with this one. He takes this topic and addresses it maturely, with female characters both glad there are no more men, and who miss them and mourn them. He doesn't take the immature route and fill the book with dumb, gratuitous all-female sex, but approaches all of the relationships with a great deal of talent and characterization almost unheard of in graphic fiction of this sort.

By treating this topic with such deftness and incredible talent, Vaughan creates a classic depiction of a world in great tragedy, and how the survivors deal with it. Filled with excellent characters and very believable dialogue, this book hits every note. Even non-graphic novel readers will enjoy this one. Pick this up, and look for more reviews of this series to come. You'll regret missing out.


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