Friday, May 7, 2010

Y: The Last Man Vol. 1 - Unmanned

Y: The Last Man Vol. 1 - Unmanned
By Brian K. Vaughan and Pia Guerra

I'll confess up front that I'm a little biased going into this post. First, I've already read Y: The Last Man in its entirety. I followed the series as it was first released in collected editions. Hung on every new chapter. Loved it.

So yeah, I'm going into this series of posts already a huge fan.

But a week or two ago when I sat down to reread Brian K. Vaughan and Pia Guerra's epic saga about a world in which all men die from a mysterious plague -- all but one, that is; wise-cracking, sexually dysfunctional escape artist Yorick Brown is the lone male on a planet full of females -- I figured it might be a kick to reassess my love for the story and see how well it holds together a little more than two years after it wrapped up.

So far, so good. So very, very good.

I forgot how rapidly Vaughn jumps into it. He wastes no time with needless buildup. On page one, BOOM, men are dying. Just a few pages in and half the population of the globe is dead. We meet Yorick, get to know what an unusual yet likable guy he is; see his wants, needs, and desires; then we're off and running. In no time at all we're seeing crumbling governments, post-apocalyptic anti-man cults, and glimpses of how life goes on without men in the picture. (How? Uneasily. But it does.) Yorick is out on the road trying (and failing) to keep his gender a secret. Conspiracies abound. Plot lines that take 50 or 60 issues to unwind are seeded. The crumbling pieces of a society in ruins struggle to put themselves back together.

It's heady stuff.

It's also terrifically fun and funny. Despite the rather grim and provocative subject matter, Vaughn takes a humorous and entertaining approach whenever possible, but without sacrificing the seriousness of the book's conceit. Even when the thematic material veers towards the heavy-handed, it's tempered with the kind of self-aware humor a story like this NEEDS if it's going to last. Maybe it was this ability to balance heavy themes, wild science fiction premises and sharp humor that lead to his being drafted as a writer for the television show Lost.

Bottom line is this: Y gets off to a rousing start, one so damn good that if you're not hooked with this first collection, you have no soul. Because damn, what a bloody brilliant ride this is.

Read my regular, everything-and-anything (usually on writing and music) blog right over here.

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