« on: June 15, 2006, 11:18:25 PM »
Everyone 'round here knows that I am a big science fiction buff, but I've never really been into the action comic scene, which has a lot of connections to SF. Nevertheless, I've become addicted to one comic book series (in trade paperback compendium form borrowed from the library---I'm not lame enough to subscribe) called Y: The Last Man, by Bruce Vaughn (writer), Pia Guerra (artist, though I doubt she has no plot influence), and various others depending on the issue.
It's a mostly mature, gripping take on what appears to be a common adolescent fantasy: what if you were the literally last man on earth---with billions of women. Near the beginning of the story, all the Y-chromosome-bearing mammals on Earth, men included, die very quickly, almost simultaneously, from a sudden, bizarre haemorragic fever. Except two. Yorick Brown, the escape artist and unemployed slacker who is a son of a US congresswoman (of course, it's set in the US...), and his pet monkey, Ampersand.
Naturally, with the death of half the population, the world's economy and infrastructure collapses, and the surviving women have to pick up the pieces. What is most fascinating about this story are the various ways in which different groups of women rebuild. Yorick's mother, a conservative Democratic politician, has to face down the angry wives of the dead Republican politicians who want to claim the seats and votes of their deceased men. An Israeli general, noting that without the militant male Arab leadership as an enemy, the internal divisions among religious and secular women in Israel threatens to tear that country apart, strives to manufacture a new war---with the USA. A group of escaped female convicts strives to build a small utopia outside their prison. Some women turn the phallic Washington monument into a "Men's monument" to venerate the billions of lost men. And, of course, a cult-like group of militant women including Yorick's brainwashed sister arises to erase all traces of masculinity from the world, especially---when they catch wind of his existence---Yorick himself.
Yorick himself is hardly more than a boy in this series, and often his behaviour is immature and irrational around the serious crises that the women face. And one of the crises is him. Because he is the only sperm factory on Earth in a world where most of the cloning experiments haven't suceeded---and he and his monkey are the potential keys to discovering just what happened. Also, he is a prize for all of the now-female governments of the world as well as other unscrupulous women trying to survive in a collapsed but recovering economy.
But he has female protectors. Primarily, the tough, anonymous Agent 355, who is patient with Yorick's sometimes childish whims---but very willing to kick sense into Yorick. Also, Dr. Alison Mann, possibly the only woman in the world with the expertise to figure out why Yorick is different---and how to take advantage of him in saving humanity. They must travel the USA and the world to evade all the interests pursuing them---while both battling feelings of guilt as their suspect that their respective previous work actually started the plague (Mann almost succeeded in creating female parthenogenesis, 355 was in the process of removing an ancient, cursed amulet from the Middle East). On the way, they meet both terribly dangerous women and creative and strong women.
The drawing for the comic is excellent and nothing like the stereotype of action comics, with all the bodies, particularly female bodies, mostly fit but relatively realistic. On occasion sexist assumptions poke through, but I suspect these are forgivable. The villains, like the Israeli general, are quite complex, and some of the antagonists aren't necessarily even villains at all. Yorick matures over time, but still retains his impulsive streak, and is still so far the least capable among his companions---but he's learning, and he's also learning that being the only man in a sea of women might not be really fun after all---especially when every women who sees through his disguises immediately reacts to him as they would a surprising zoo animal. (The anti-male "Daughters of the Amazon" good-riddance cult are a bit of a caricature but the plot appears to be hinting at a justification for this) I'm at volume 4 of the trade paperback edition and continue to be impressed. 7 just came out. There should be at least 3 more, I think. (60 comic issues.)