Y: The Last Man: Whys and Wherefores by Brian K. Vaughan – A Graphic Novel Review

This final installment to the Y: The Last Man series left me both unsatisfied and disappointed.

Y: The Last Man started out as a fantastic series.  It was a high concept with excellent characterization and an epic, fascinating plot.

But, as the series wore on, it lost steam.  I assumed this was the lull before the storm; that Vaughan slowed things down a bit so he could hit us hard for the ultimate chapter.

He didn’t.

Whys and Wherefores should have been monumental.  Instead, it felt to this fan as though Vaughan simply went through the motions of getting all the plots tidied up and packed away.  When Beth and Yorick reunited, a moment for which we’d literally waited years, it lacked any real emotional intensity.  Agent 355’s final fate cheated both the character and her characterization.  Alter’s motivation turned out to be a cliché.  The only truly authentic scene involved Yorick and Ampersand, his pet monkey, both of whom are male.

Which leads me to an important distinction.  Y: The Last Man, while initially very good, also originally focused mostly upon Yorick.  As Vaughan spread out his cast of characters, most of whom are obviously women, the title lost some of its magic.  I applaud Vaughan for undertaking such a mammoth challenge: any man attempting to write an entire series about how women would remake the earth without men is either supremely confident or a little crazy.  But sadly, as the series wore on, his women felt less and less genuine and more like a male’s excuse for including lesbianism and girl-on-girl violence.  In other words, they seemed to become objectified, which is the antithesis of how the series started.  For the record, I would be supremely interested to hear a woman’s take on this series.

All in all, Y: The Last Man ended with a whimper.  Its characters were swindled out of what should have been a majestic goodbye, and its readers were left without much to celebrate or commiserate.  It simply read like an ending rather than a finale.

Y: The Last Man: Motherland – A Graphic Novel Review

In case you’re not familiar with Brian K. Vaughan’s Y: The Last Man, the premise is that a catastrophic plague has wiped every man on the planet but one, Yorick Brown. For an inexplicable reason, Yorick and his pet monkey, Ampersand, were spared. Now Yorick desperately wants to traverse a planet in chaos as women work to establish order once more so that he can reunite with his girlfriend. He travels with Agent 355, who has been charged with protecting Yorick, and the scientist Allison Mann, who tirelessly works to determine what made Yorick and Ampersand different from anything else with the Y chromosome.

Motherland is the ninth volume in this graphic novel series. When Y first started, it was unlike anything else I’d ever read in comic books. Action-packed with a real sense of plot and purpose, Vaughan broke barriers with every installment. However, on this volume, I feel things are starting to drag out a bit. Still an enjoyable read, but it’s definitely treading water compared to earlier volumes.

But, be that as it may, I have every faith in the world that Vaughan will regain steam as he comes to the conclusion of this series. It was understood from the get go that this was a finite title, and I really think it will be a joy to read from start to finish once it’s concluded.

For those of you unfamiliar with Brian K. Vaughan, he is a master storyteller in the world of comic books, but he’s also the guy they brought in to get the television show LOST back on track when it waned a bit last season. Did you notice a discernable improvement in LOST towards the end of last season? You can thank BKV for that.

Please realize that Y is not your mainstream comic book such as Superman or Batman. It is a comic book, yes, but it is more like the HBO of the comic book world. There is adult language at times and adult themes. However, if you’ve ever been interested in seeing sequential art at its best, give Y a try.