Comic books are a passing interest for me- but currently I have the good fortune to work with a few people who have a more active interest in comics, as well as a library of great comic books & graphic novels they don’t mind sharing.
Now Up: Y The Last Man. Yorick Brown (the titular Y) is seemingly the last man standing after an event kills off everyone else with a Y chromosome.
The 10 graphic novels collect 60 issues of comics, originally published from 2002-2008. Brian Vaughan wrote the series, which seemingly benefits from his experience writing for Lost, a personal favorite. As Wired puts it:
Vaughan’s series are finite, meticulous, years-long story arcs. “That’s storytelling, with a beginning, a middle, and an end,” he says. “Something like Spider-Man, a book that never has a third act, that seems crazy.”
Last Man is can’t-put-down, page-turning comic entertainment at its best. I didn’t struggle too much with the author’s treatment of what caused the plague, but in truth I think that a series that focuses too much on the science-fiction may be trying to make up for deficiencies- a problem I didn’t have with Last Man.
Two problems I have with the series:
1- from time-to-time, many if not all comic book authors indulge themselves and talk to the audience. Specifically, writers won’t break down the fourth wall, but rather treat it as a window and stare at you directly through it. Vaughan is not immune from this tick, including one scene where he goes out of his way to explain and excuse (to the reader, through a character monologue) a plot device he uses. I think that’s lazy and unnecessary writing.
2- evil Republicans! Vaughan takes a few too many one-sided jabs for my biased taste. Fortunately the gratuitous knocks don’t reach polemical proportions and get in the way. It’s Vaughan’s book, so he earned this soapbox.
Since I borrowed all 10 books in the series, Last Man probably won’t wind up on my bookshelf. That said, I expect to revisit the series at some point in the future- hopefully with a discussion group.