Friday, September 16, 2016

Y: THE LAST MAN by Brian K. Vaughan Volume 1

This comic book series has received rave reviews for its rather satirical premise concerning the idea of the extinction of all mammals with the Y chromosome, and how the female population supposedly tries to deal with this global crisis. I've been intrigued by this series for four years now, but put off reading it even after I bought an actual copy about three years ago. It's a Vertigo title which immediately guarantees it's promising. Finally, I got to read the first volume Unmanned which collected the first five issues of the series, and as much as I wasn't completely invested yet in the story and characters, I have to agree that it's  an interesting beginning.

Y: The Last Man was published in 2002 with ten volume all in all, and its official run ended by 2008. It had received and won nominations from Eisner Awards thrice. That being said, this first volume is not something I would personally consider an instant masterpiece which was okay. Neil Gaiman's The Sandman: Preludes and Nocturnes wasn't so hot either at least until The Sound of Her Wings closing issue, but that series eventually did become one as the story went on. To compare it with the other graphic novels I reviewed since last month, it's still a good entry but not something as magnificently appealing like SAGA or Sex Criminals had proven to be, whose first volumes were immediately so stellar and engrossing. 

I could even liken Y: The Last Man to Joe Hill's debut volume for Locke and Key which had all the proper elements of supernatural horror and drama and has definitely more potentials to sprout from. However, Y: The Last Man in its first volume Unmanned is off to a slow start with the build-up quite scattered among many placed and with different characters that hopefully will form a more cohesive ensemble once the plot progression settles in a more desirable and suspenseful pace. Hey, at least it wasn't The Wicked and Divine, a series I had so much hopes for but sorely let down in the end that I won't even bother posting a review about it. I also didn't bother picking up the second volume anymore because UGH.

But I digress. Illustrated by Pia Guerra and Jose Marzan Jr., penciler and inker respectively, Y the Las Man was visually efficient enough to convey the dystopic landscape of a man-less existence where women are clamoring for survival, power and politics. The tone of the narrative definitely portrays a satirical approach which calls into question and discussion the topics of female empowerment and the radical extremists who pursue a more vicious goal to assert it. Since all the male mammals including humans got wiped out, these feminazis are inclined to believe that nature has taken its course and now it's time to go Amazonian in such a ridiculously chauvinistic way that DC's counterpart of the real Amazons where Wonder Woman hails from would be ashamed to be associated with these women.

I can't help but be reminded of that last season of Veronica Mars about said feminazis becoming the villains of that supposedly empowering show. No wonder it got pulled after that season because it was extremely negative in its portrayal of feminist activists. Y: The Last Man, I feel, has a real possibility of crossing that line, but seeing as this was only the first volume and that it did last for ten more, I think I'll assume that the writer and editors of Vertigo found a balance and compromise in how they handled the feminist side of thing for this story. Here are some of the notable pages about it:


The ongoing discourse about how feminists values and other pro-women movements have been portrayed for Y: The Last Man certainly invites critical arguments from everyone who has their own opinions about it, whether affirmative or cynical. I'd rather stay away from that and simply review and appreciate this as a work of fiction, no matter how politically heated it tends to become in the later issues. Protagonist Yorick and his monkey companion Amerstad are the only male left in the world (or at least as far as we know). Yorick's mother is a congresswoman who wanted him to take his role as mankind's last chance for procreation more seriously, but Yorick is more concerned to getting back to his girlfriend he had just proposed to over a long-distance phone call to Australia before all this extinction shit went down. It's contextually hilarious but also grim.

As far as first impressions go, I am lukewarm towards Yorick. I don't find him that interesting but he is the central character in an interesting situation. I certainly hope to get to know the other female characters who show a more promising depth but whose names I can't tell you on the spot because of how little time this volume spends presenting them and how thinly the entire storyline is spread across the five issues so far. I do hope I warm up to Yorick especially even if he's such a narrow-minded fool who is more concerned about seeing his girlfriend than discover why the hell has he survived the extinction? I'd be more excited to find that out if I was Yorick, but hey, that's only because I would rather solve a good mystery over any kind of romantic ties I may have.

Get the fuck out of here, you hopeless sap!

In a nutshell, Y The Last Man shows promise. It has a puzzle that readers can solve and watch develop across its ten-volumed span, and the feminist angle is certainly worth the merit mentioning as well, but it's not the first graphic novel I will be picking up anytime soon once I finished my scheduled GNs for this year. That place still belongs to SAGA, I'm afraid.


RECOMMENDED: 7/10

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