I considering Brian K. Vaughan the best writer in comics, and possibly ever. Original set pieces and humanizing characters are his trademark. You can easily download the first issue of Private Eye to see what I’m talking about. Currently, he’s writing Saga with artist Fiona Staples, which is shaping up to be his magnum opus. Before Saga and Private Eye, he had a two amazing series; Ex Machina and Y: The Last Man.
Y was a 60 issue series in the early 2000’s drawn by Pia Guerra. The premise was simple, yet inventive. Every male mammals on Earth died at once. It was a horrific event. Males the world over, even those unborn, dropped dead. Women were left to pick up the pieces, learn what happened, and continue society. However, two males survived. Yorick Brown and his pet monkey Ampersand. Yorick was somewhat of a failure, not doing much with his life, obsessed with becoming an escape artist. Not knowing what to do, and worried about his girlfriend Beth, he travels to D.C. to find his mother, a congresswoman. There he meets the new president, and is put under the care of Agent 355. 355’s is tasked with taking him to Boston, where geneticist Dr. Allison Mann can hopefully clone him.
If there’s one thing I can fault Y for, it’s the mystery premise. Stories sometimes have this problem where they want to take what is known, and flip it on it’s head. The point of the story is the new setting, not the event itself. Whether it’s intentional to entice viewers/readers early on or just a fault in the machine, people often become obsessed with the mystery, completely missing the point. Battlestar Galactica had this problem with the identity of the final 5 Cylons. Lost did as well. Here, Vaughan explains why all males died, though it’s not a very good one. A little bit of handwavey science-magic is employed. Again though, that’s not the point.
Throughout the series we watch Yorick, 355, Beth, Allison, and a host of other characters grow and change, adjusting to the new world order. Many of the best stories involve putting people in new or different situations to observe how they react and grow. This is where Y excels. This is where Vaughan shines. The character arc for Yorick and 355 are amazing, and something everyone should read.
There have been many attempts to bring Y to the big screen. I’ve always had some reservations considering the length, though much of the middle issues are vignettes taking place over 2 years so I’m sure some streamlining can be done in there. Shia “I’m crazy now” LaBeouf was attached as York for a few years. He’s since fallen off. In the interim, a mess of directors/producers have come and gone. For a time, Dan Trachtenberg (he made this) was scheduled to direct, with production supposedly starting in 2014. That has since fallen through with the rights returning to Vaughan and Guerra. Since Y is the least comic booky comic book, it can easily translate mediums. This is evident by an amazing short fan film. Though I think this would be better suited for television.
Y: The Last Man is one of the first books I give people to read. I have about five go-to books I hand out when I’m getting people hooked on comics, and Y is the top of that list. If you have an interest in comics, or enticed by the short film, I implore you to check out the series. Many stories trip at the finish line, but Vaughan completely sticks the landing. You won’t be disappointed.
Interested in checking out Y? Think the movie will ever happen? Comment below!
Seriously, why is this not a TV show?