Sunday, April 17, 2011

Y Should You Even Read This?

I'll leave The Beatles
jokes alone if you will...

Because it's awesome. End of story. Full stop. Period. The end. Seriously, if Brain K. Vaughn and Pia Guerra can't get you to read comic books, I don't know what will. To top it off this collection (currently US $19.79 from Amazon, down from $20.99) is a lovely 256 page hardcover edition that give you the first 10 issues of Y: The Last Man, along with some of Guerra's sketches for the book.

The setup for the story is simple (if a bit murky) in that one instant the life on planet Earth is going along swimmingly (well as swimmingly as it ever does) and the next every single male on the planet is dead... well almost. There's one human male, Yorrick, and his monkey, Ampersand, remaining. The reasons for the plague are not given (I've not finished reading the whole series yet, and refuse to have it spoiled for me), but there are hints that several things going on at the time may have had something to do with the plague, and Yorrick's survival. The events are:

  • Agent 355 removing an ancient artefact from Jordan (possible link);
  • Dr Mann giving birth to her own clone (possible link);
  • Hero, Yorrick's sister, carrying on with her latest man (unlikely link);
  • Israeli (female) Colonel Alter involved in a gun fight (unlikely link); and
  • Yorrick proposing to his girlfriend, Beth, in Australia using a magic ring he bought (the ring may be linked to Yorrick's survival, but my money is on the monkey);
Oh, and there's also a page of statistics
about what near total androcide means!
From there, the hijinx roll on as Yorrick's plans to go to Australia (fist pump!) to find Beth (his potential fiancee) are derailed by his Congresswoman mother;s and the new President's  orders to go with 355 to find Dr Mann, and aid her in solving the disaster.

Now okay, this is all sounding like a poor Sunday matinee Sci-Fi movie. I know when I started reading I was dubious, and as the book goes on you can see where Vaughn's being clever with his writing, and allowing for implausible situations (such as Yorrick's being an escape artist coming in useful on numerous occasions). But then I hit page 89 and get a simple reference to one of Paul Simon's greatest songs. From that point on the story (and pop culture references) had me hooked.

... because happiness is a warm gun.
Guerra's art does a wonderful job of simply portraying the events and emotions that need to be shown, and getting out of the way of the story. There's nothing over-drawn, and at no point are we given a "constipated super-hero" face. Vaughn's script is occasionally limp (such as the idea that Yorrick gets captured more often than Kim Bauer during a terrorist situation), but his dialog has a knack for covering that up. Ironically the thing that is easily lost in this story is that these characters are all living in a world where a horrific tragedy has occurred, although it is often referred to the mass deaths are rarely shown, allowing the horror of what people have done to themselves to take the stage. Contrasting that to The Walking Dead you get a very different perspective on the world. That's not to say that Y: The Last Man is all flowers and bunnies, but it's definitely not as unpleasant as TWD. One thing I have noticed over the last few weeks is that when you get away from the standard Union Suit books, the material tends to focus a lot more closely on the details of the human condition and how society functions. The thing that interests me more about that, is that as a book becomes more popular it's generally forced away from that kind of introspection (compare the early Lee/Ditko Spider-man - if you can handle the horrible dialog - with the recent junk Marvel puts out and you'll see what I mean), and it seems that the creators (and, yes the publishers) begin to pigeon-hole themselves. Something to mull over before we start rotting out the "Marvel and DC won't let writers tell good stories" line we've feed ourselves since we were 16.

Overall I give this book more thumbs up than I can form with my naturally allotted number of hands, and the cliffhanger at the end is a great setup for the next volume. Like I said above, it's a great book, and it's open for more or less anyone to read (there's a bit of graphic violence, and swearing, but nothing that's not on the TV after 8:30 PM). 

Before I rond out this review, I'm aware of the optioning of this book into a movie, and I have this to say: One it should be a TV series instead, and Two if they attach "The Beef" over, oh I don't know, Nicholas Brendon (if they can turn back the clocks a little) or Jesse Bradford, I'll consider spending my money buying another 3 copies of the whole series instead of seeing the movie.

Next Week we have that whole thing about Easter, and while I may not share the same views as everyone else, I do view it as a chance to relax, catch up with family, eat a whole lot of chocolate, and deliver a surprise to someone. That in mind, there's no teaser image, except I will say this: I've a lot of reading to do, and while most of it is top notch, the last part... is terrible.

1 comment:

  1. My favourite complete series ever. The story, the art, the characters - everything. It even delivered a satisfying ending. It goes to show that not all series need to live forever. Great write-up Westy!