Books Magazine

Y: The Last Man Vol. 1: Unmanned

Posted on the 06 July 2011 by Jimblack78
Y: The Last Man Vol. 1: UnmannedWriter:  Brian K. VaughnPenciller:  Pia GuerraInker:  Jose Marzan, Jr.Collects issues 1-5Title:  UnmannedIn the summer of 2002, a plague of unknown origin destroyed everything containing a Y chromosome with the exception of one young man and his pet monkey.  The "gendercide" instantaneously exterminated 48% of the global population, or approximately 2.9 billion men.Now, aided by the mysterious Agent 355, the last human male Yorick Brown must contend with dangerous extremists, a hoped for reunion with a girlfriend on the other side of the globe, and the search for exactly why he's the only man to survive.Brian K. Vaughn has set up a very interesting world in this series.  The reader is learning about it as Yorick tries to figure out what happened.  The viewpoint cuts to others at times to present the various possibilities.  The mystery is that, at least at this point in the story, the characters are not exactly sure who caused the death of the men.Yorik is not a common name.  The best known use of it was in Shakespeare's Hamlet when Hamlet exhumed the skull of Yorick.  Yorick was a court jester whose skull shows that death is unavoidable.  Another modern usage of Yorik is in the Star Wars:  New Jedi Order series.  In this series, the Yuuzhan Vong use the mighty yorik-trema to attack.  The yorik-trema is a bio-engineered transport vessel.If the reader were to combine those definitions, it would imply that Yorik Brown is a light hearted man but that death is inevitable for him.  He would also be the bio-engineered system used to transport the plague.  I will be curious to see if any of this proves to be the case.In the new world, Yorik's mother is the president of the United States.  Yorik undertakes a journey to join up with his her.  The problem is that any surviving man will be a target for the radical extremists.  So Yorik puts on a cloak and a gas mask to cover his identity.  Along the way Yorik runs into many obstacles. Vaughn does a good job of imagining what the new world would be like.  The classic journey for the hero is a good way of driving the story.  The other situation that Vaughn establishes is that Yorik’s girlfriend is in Australia.  In the manner of the classic quest story the author sends Yorik on a double quest.  First he will travel to Washington D.C. to find his mother.  Then he plans on traveling to Australia to reunite with his girlfriend.  Vaughn has patterned the tale on the classic after the disaster quest story.  It is in the same genre as “Damnation Alley” by Roger Zelazny, “On the Beach” by Nevil Shute, “Earth Abides” by George Stewart, the many novels of J. G. Ballard, “A Canticle for Leibowitz” by Walter Miller, and Kirkman’s “Walking Dead”.The art by Pia Guerra and Jose Marzan, Jr. does not get in the way of the story.  It is very reminiscent of Chas Truog's art in Grant Morrison's “Animal Man”.  The panel designs are very basic old school comic book art.  Do not expect the detail or innovative layouts of someone like George Perez.  The art tells the story.  In this day and age, that is something that many artists forget.  At times the artists did not use sequential storytelling.  In those instances the eye is led to follow the action in the wrong direction.  The action of a character leads the reader’s eyes to the left.  Unfortunately, this is on the left side of the page so the only option is to read to the right.  With some slight repositioning of the action, the story would flow much better.  I get the impression that many of the current artists need to spend more time studying “Comics and Sequential Art” by Will Eisner.  It is a classic text that shows you how to design your pages to use the art to help with the flow of the story.  Guerra does a better job than many of today’s artists with the storytelling.  With a little more attention to the sequential storytelling, the art would be raised to the next level.  In general the artists do an acceptable job.Overall this is a very good start to a series.  If you are looking for story driven comics, this is the book for you.  I found myself interested in learning more about the changes to our world.  The initial mysteries held my interest.  I will be reading the other volumes in this series.Recommended.

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