If you frequent any comic forums you may see this series get recommended a lot. Y: The Last Man is a 60 issue maxi-series from the DC Comics subsidiary, Vertigo, running from September 2002 – March 2008 and written by Brian K. Vaughan. Y: The Last Man is set in a post-apocalyptic world where a mysterious plague has wiped out the entire male species except for one man named Yorick Brown & his pet monkey, Ampersand. The series is about survival after the unthinkable has occurred, a character journey to save the human race, and a commentary on the most basic things we take for granted in our own society. Y: The Last Man is the winner of an Eisner Award for Best Continuing Series and was a Hugo Award nominee for Best Graphic Story.
Now again, this series gets recommended a lot to new readers. It’s a standalone story, not connected to the larger DC Universe, a perfect comic to give someone not interested in diving in to the black hole of the “Big 2”, but Why?
The Characters: Yorick, Agent 355, Dr. Mann, and even Ampersand. Their journey throughout this series is the main reason why it’s recommended again & again. Yes, the series is about the plague and saving mankind, but what drives the plot is the voyage these characters embark on together and the relationship that builds between them. Read the first couple of issues and try to tell me Yorick isn’t an interesting character, you can’t…I promise you that.
The Plot: It’s so fascinating to read a post-apocalyptic tale that’s NOT about zombies. The mystery behind the plague and why Yorick and Ampersand lived is so intriguing and Vaughan does a great job hinting at the cause throughout. Not to mention while the over-arcing theme of the story is the journey to save mankind, the 60 issues are set up into individual story arcs as they make their way across the country which lets readers watch these characters develop with each new circumstance.
The Writing: This goes hand in hand with the plot and the characters, but it’s worth noting. Brian K Vaughan is an exceptional writer. With series like Saga from Image Comics, Ex Machina from Vertigo, or Runaways from Marvel, Vaughan has shown the ability to manage a long-form series to get the most out of the story. He creates characters we care about, plots that keep our attention, & writes believable dialogue. That last point is key. Comics with too much dialogue or narration can bog down the story and lose the readers focus; you want the dialogue to flow in order for the reader to notice what is happing through visual queues in the panels. Vaughn’s dialogue is consistent and stays true to his characters, which makes it believable to the readers.
Y: The Last Man is one of my favorite long-form, maxi-series. The story is incredible, I was genuinely invested in the fate of the characters, and I didn’t want to put it down during the first read through. Also, forewarning, be ready to breakout the tissues as the series winds down. So now the next time you see Y: The Last Man get recommended you’ll understand the praise and hopefully check it out for yourself.