Sunday, October 11, 2009

Last Man, Second Reading

For the first time since it ended, I've been rereading Y: The Last Man, which is the comics series where Brian K. Vaughn made his name and which was probably what got him his gig as a writer/producer on Lost. As you may gather from the title, Y tells the story of a world in which everything with a Y chromosome dies at the same time, except for the titular last man Yorick and his pet (male) monkey. Yorick teams up with a government agent and a brilliant geneticist to try to figure out what went wrong and how he and his monkey survived. Back in the day, Vaughn liked to joke about the Cinemaxy flavor of the concept, but the series tried to take a realistic look at what would happen to society and civilization if all the men died and also circles around a bunch of different genres: post-apocalyptic dystopia, psychological thriller, science fiction, bildungsroman, all punctuated with some of the craziest and agonizing cliffhangers.

I just finished issue 26, but having apparently misplaced #27, I figure this is as good a time to reconsider some of Y so far.

After the first couple-few arcs, the pacing feels rushed, because arcs like "Safeword" and "Tongues of Flame" seem to get resolved one issue sooner than I remembered. Crises are over before they even start, it feels to me. Add to the fact that I still don't know if the Amazons were a great group of villains or a retrograde depiction of nightmarish second-wave feminists (that is, I don't know if I hate them or the way they're depicted), and I've been less impressed with Vaughn's writing thus far. (I still hold him in high esteem as a writer, overall; his current work on Ex Machina is excellent, for instance.)

However, I've been blown away by the art of series co-creator Pia Guerra. I knew that in the opening volumes of Y, her art is a fairly standard cut from the flat but well-drafted Steve Dillon school, like keyframes from the better cel-shaded cartoons from the '80s. But the first splash page we see in "Tongues of Flame" is remarkable: the composition is awesome thanks to the perspective, the linework is evocative (and the inking by Jose Marzan brings the beauty of Guerra's art out). The rest of the issue is likewise great.

Indie rating: The Raveonettes - "Last Dance"

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