Thursday, 16 January 2014

Y: The Last Man

Lowdown: The quests of the sole survivor of a worldwide calamity claiming the lives of everything bearing a Y chromosome.
I have been waiting quite a while for an iPad that can free me to read my comics electronically instead of burdening me with paperweights. When this iPad finally came, Y: The Last Man was the first prime time candidate for this exercise in freedom. Why? Because it came highly recommended in the venerable TV series, Chuck.
Y: The Last Man is a series of 60 comic books released about a decade ago. Now we have the privilege of being able to read it all through its collection of ten ebook volumes, and I had done just that over the past month or so. One does need to bear in mind this is a rather expensive exercise, though: with each of the collection ebook volumes selling for more than $10, reading the whole of Y: The Last Man turned out to be quite a heavy burden on the wallet. Much more so than normal books, at least when factoring the time one spends reading. When one bears in mind there is no easy way to remove the DRM on these comic ebooks (unlike regular ebooks), the cost turns out much higher: there is a chance the next time I’d want to read the adventures of the last man I’d have to purchase them once again.
As one can guess, Y: The Last Man tells the story of the last man alive. However, it is not your “usual” story of the last survivor of some cataclysm claiming the rest of humanity. Y: The Last Man starts off at the early 2000’s, telling us the story of how all the men have died (or rather, all mammals bearing a Y chromosome) with the exception of one Yorick Brown and his monkey Ampersand.
Now the sole male in a world of females, Yorick has a few challenges on hand. Personal safety is a major issue, with Yorick being at once the world’s most eligible bachelor and the target of nasty hate groups (one member of which turns out to be his sister, Hero). On the other hand, Yorick is also humanity’s best hope for having future generations, which is why what is left of the USA government appoints Agent 355 to escort him on a quest to find geneticist Alison Mann and then help her create clones. Together on this quest that ends up taking them across the USA, across the whole world and across years, our group faces many a danger, including Israelis and ninjas, and many a challenge. And in case you were thinking Yorick is going to exploit his position, note his primary goal is actually locating his fiancĂ© (?) Beth, last known to be stranded on the Australian outback as the phone call through which Yorick was trying to propose disconnected when everything male decided to die.
Thus Y: The Last Man is best described as exploratory science fiction (a term I am borrowing from the ebooks’ back cover). Essentially, Yorick’s adventures and setting are a platform through which us readers get to explore many issues. These issues range across subject matters, including sexism, morality, religion, cargo pants and much more. I have to say I have found these explorations to be quite a state of the art affair: no stone is left unturned, no plot line unresolved. Even minor characters, like the supermodel now turned grave digger in a world her talents are no longer sought after, get to have their moment under the sun.
In its way, Y: The Last Man offers us comics at its best. Aided by amazing graphics, with some of the best art I have ever seen, Y: The Last Man is by far the smartest comic I have ever had the pleasure of reading (disclaimer: sadly, I cannot boast vast experience in the field of comics). It is not a child’s comic, though; there’s serious stuff in there. And that’s exactly why this is such a great comic.
Overall: Y: The Last Man offers quite a journey, easily achieving the status of the best comic I ever read. 5 out of 5 big, juicy jugs of crab juice for this one.
P.S. Chuck was right!

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