Y: The Last Man: Girl on GirlPreviously in Ambidextrous...
We now continue our discussion of classic comic book series Y: The Last Man. Hit the link and then come on back if it feels like you’re missing something. There’s a ton of material to cover, so let’s get it going. Comments at the end, if so inclined. Thanks.
Green Eyed Monster (Issues #32-#35)
And this is where it becomes blindingly obvious that there’s something real going on between Yorick and 355…if you hadn’t picked up on it already. This entire story is all about throwing their growing attraction out of whack, by introducing one of the oldest emotions in the book. Obviously, you learn a lot about two people when you drive a wedge between them, and in this case, both of them say and do things they normally wouldn’t and act a little irrationally. Before the arc is over, 355 actually points a gun at Yorick and screams, “I have no idea what kind of siren spell this woman has you under, but snap out of it before I snap you.” Yeah, no romantic tension there at all…
Dream Logic (Issue #36)
Love these kinds of issues, and using a narrative like this was the perfect way to physically introduce Beth into the story. For about three years, we’d been hearing and seeing glimpses of her character, being told how important she was by Yorick, but here Vaughan gives us the whole story, skillfully shifting between pasts and presents. I have this borderline psychotic fascination with scene transitions, and “Boy Loses Girl” has a ton of great ones as it builds and then deconstructs the very idea of Beth in only 22 pages. And even though we know she was seconds away from breaking up with him in the first issue, it’s still great to see some of the experiences that made their relationship something Yorick is willing to trek across the planet to preserve. Cute Zatanna gag, as well.
Flaccid (Issue #37)
Had to happen eventually. Since the beginning, Yorick Brown has done a fairly poor job of keeping his own existence a secret, and it finally catches up to him here---forced to strip at gunpoint and photographed by a reporter. Really though, it’s a shock he made it almost forty issues without this happening, but still a funny moment, especially when he complains afterwards to 355 that he didn’t even have time to “chump up.”
Y: The Last Man: Paper DollsTorture Proof (Issue #39)
And here I was thinking Vaughan was gearing up for a major confrontation between mother and son. Instead, we get another fantastic cliffhanger as Alter shoots Jennifer Brown dead, minutes after she sees a picture of her “beautiful little fool” stripped naked on the cover of a national newspaper. Nice moment…and an opportunity before she’s killed to get it on record that she made a mistake allying herself with Alter. Maybe I was just being dense, but I never thought she would end up being that important a character in the book. But much more on Alter later, obviously.
The Letter (Issue #40)
Revealing Other Beth being pregnant as hell was the first great thing. Second was Hero’s reaction after realizing how she got that way. Then the private army of the Vatican showing up, thinking they’re investigating a possible virgin birth. Then Beth and Hero teaming-up and heading for the hot suite in Kansas before the really cool reveal---the actual contents of the letter Yorick wrote to Other Beth in the first place, asking her to take care of his crazy, wayward sister.
This was the half of the series where Vaughan really proved just why having a guy like Yorick Brown being the last man in the world wasn’t such a bad deal after all. Behind his sarcastic jackass exterior lurked a really good guy who just wanted to do the right thing by his family and friends. To me, this was the first major sighting of “emotional Yorick” on this leg of his quest, but it certainly wouldn’t be the last.
Strongest Muscle (Issue #41)
Y: The Last Man: Kimono DragonsThough not as intentionally strange as the Beth spotlight issue, this one, finally giving us the “secret origin” of Agent 355, was no less important. As usual, the transitions here are fantastic, moving chronologically through her history, and ultimately revealing just why having a band of cannibals bearing down on her triggered this sudden flashback. But it was great to see her in pigtails, and being recruited by the Culper Ring, and having to take down her mentor to save the life of the President. My personal favorite though is the “Blah Blah Blah, N*****” scene, cause that’s just how it happens. Black people get like super-hearing or something when that word is said out loud, and it makes for another clever moment of Vaughan scripting. As is the final page, but we should all be used to stuff like that by now.
Confessions (Issue #46)
I just finished the “confession” issue of Miranda Mercury, and it was a lot of fun because these types of moments are always supremely focused on character. You build this tension between your leads, sometimes without them even being fully aware of it, and then right before it all blows up in their faces (or slightly after), you create some really inopportune time for them to figure it all out.
In this case, 355 and Yorick have been captured in their bid to recover Ampersand from a brainless pop singer, and Allison Mann is facing off with a ninja who wants something from her mother…who also just accidentally stabbed Allison’s new girlfriend Rose. Who herself has been tasked by the Australian Military to spy on Yorick’s intrepid little crew, Allison included. Meanwhile, Yorick needs to tell 355 that he killed someone, and that he slept with someone in a graveyard. 355 needs him to know that she knew full well what 711 was going to do to him in that old cabin, and that she knew it’d do the trick because she’d undergone the procedure herself once before. And that Yorick’s hair has become ridiculous in recent months.
Y: The Last Man: MotherlandBut naturally, having all this stuff out in the open could either bring them closer together or tear them completely apart. Or if you’re a truly heartless bastard like Brian K. Vaughan…you’ll bring them together and then tear them apart at a later date.
Many Men (Issue #50)
I suppose Y-The Second to Last Man wouldn’t sound quite as cool, right? The big hits keep coming when Mann’s father is revealed, alive and relatively well. And that’s before he pulls back the curtain (good one, Vaughan) and reveals a bunch of cute, little cloned Allisons. This family is so entirely screwed up and the more we learn about them, the stronger this feeling gets. Might be a rule of fiction that no matter what else happens---mad scientists will always be cool. And this book gives you more than one! What else should we be asking for again?
Gravity (Issue #51)
355 had a lot of cool fights over the course of the series, but the one with Toyota had it all for me. We got the great escape, 355 having learned some tricks from Yorick. We got the “Holy ____” moment, with 355 tackling Toyota through a high-rise window. Then there’s your close quarters weapon fighting. Check. Followed promptly by the good guy having their face bloodied, because obviously, the fight doesn’t mean a single thing if the hero doesn’t show a little blood. Finally, you have the turning point---here it’s a large piece of wood hidden up 355’s sleeve, skillfully secreted away after Toyota used a larger piece of it to split her lip. Check and check. Sprinkle in plenty of ____-talking and a great twist at the end and it’s a wrap.
You Knew All Along (Issue #57)
Probably everyone reading this book knew that Beth was only minutes away from breaking up with Yorick before the gendercide, but it also makes perfect sense that poor Yorick had no idea. Despite his dreams attempting to clue him in, or his growing relationship with 355, the moment when Beth finally comes clean is still like the dude getting hit in the face with a sledgehammer. So yeah, it sucks to see him learn that his entire “quest” wasn’t about what he thought it was, but how else would he have ended up on it? Throughout the entire book, finding Beth has been one of the major things keeping him going, and without that pushing him, this version of Yorick Brown simply wouldn’t exist, because he’d never have formed the relationship with 355. Which ultimately turned him into this new, more improved version of Yorick Brown in the first place. I don’t know---it’s love, right? Who even knows?
Only thing I do know is that I foolishly believed at this point that Vaughan was finished kicking his main character in the balls. Little did I know…
Y: The Last Man #60
Perfect (Issue #58)
…that he would finally get them to acknowledge what they mean to each other, and not a second later, put a bullet in 355’s head. Awful, awful, heartbreaking moment, but keeping with the vibe and direction of the book since the beginning. Nothing’s promised, and you never see the bad ____ coming until it’s too late. I was already still mad at Vaughan (mad being an exaggeration of course) because of Alex Wilder, and now he does this to me.
It’s weird though to re-read the whole series and want to punch Alter anytime she appears in the book now. I suppose it was nice of him to let her die in a pretty dress. And extra points for never telling us what her real name was. We just have to take Yorick’s word for it, which is just another little detail that twists the knife.
Alas (Issue #60)
A wonderful ending to a wonderful series. Feel like I’ve run out of fancy words to use in describing this book, but it concludes even stronger than it began, which is a feat that’s always worth mention. Jumping sixty years into the future instantly puts us off-guard, just like most of us were when initially getting into this book, definitely intrigued, but a little unsure as to what the book would ultimately be about. The answer was a little of everything, and that’s something to be found in this final bittersweet issue. Beth and Hero getting together. Yorick shaving his head bald, despite 355’s warning. Ampersand’s death and final resting place. The “pick a card” flashback. And the final great escape, punctuated by a straightjacket blowing in the breeze, in the shape of the letter “Y”.
We can really never say enough about a comic like this, but I hope you enjoyed me giving it a decent try. After almost four thousand words, ladies and gentlemen…
Y: The Last Man, by Brian K. Vaughan, Pia Guerra, and Goran Sudzuka---this is why I love comics.
As always, feel free to leave your own thoughts about the series, including personal highlights, favorite lines, etc. on the board below. Thanks again.
Final collections are as follows---
Y: The Last Man: Girl on Girl
Y: The Last Man: Paper Dolls
Y: The Last Man: Kimono Dragons
Y: The Last Man: Motherland
Y: The Last Man: Whys and Wherefores
Catch Up:Ambidextrous 291: Buy Air Ambidextrous 290: Domino Effect Ambidextrous 298: I Watched the Watchmen Ambidextrous 288: On Deck, or, What to Do With Free Time