Concluding never felt so sad. With the conclusion of Y: the Last Man I am reminded of several truths. First, endings of epic storylines are rarely what you expect them to be. Second, the good ones are almost always sad. In the case of Y it was both.
This final review will cover issues forty-nine through sixty, concluding the series. And though I will touch on pieces of all the issues/arcs the majority of this article will be a reflection on the overall story and how Vaughan brought us all along for the ride of one man’s life.
Book nine starts out with the group in China. Unbeknownst to the rest of the party Dr. Mann is trying to get back to her kidnapped mother. Before she can make her own way to her, fate intervenes and her ongoing illness worsens. Agent 355 hijacks an ambulance and takes Mann to the only place she knows might help, the lab of Dr. Ming, whom Mann had told her about previously. It is at the lab that one of the biggest twists Vaughan ever comes up with.
To say much of anything else about the next couple issues would give away the store, so you’ll just have to read it to find out…trust me, it’s worth it.
I’ll pick up again with Hero, (Other) Beth, (Astronaut) Ciba and Natalya in France trying to find Yorick’s Beth and hopefully Yorick. It turns out this foursome has almost as many people after them as Yorick has had over the years. They’ve landed and when we last see them Natalya is standing near the Eiffel Tower trying to flag down anyone who may have seen Beth.
True to form Vaughan keeps the last two issues of this arc as separate stories, but these don’t directly involve any of the main characters. The penultimate issue revolves around the woman, Waverly, whom Yorick ran into way back in the early days of the series. At that time she was picking up bodies with a garbage truck for cans of food. By this point she’s turned that into a government contracted business complete with a healthy stock of employees.
Seeing how the world has evolved beyond the narrow scope of the main cast is a theme here, since the final issue shows how Hollywood has “evolved” but only genetically; the stories they are trying to tell are all still the same. This issue is set under the glamorous lights of a movie set about women battling to steal the last male sperm on the planet. The crew is complete with real former-Amazons and Vaughan tries to speak his mind through the mouth of his characters, but honestly some of it is lost in the subtext. It’s not a bad issue it just didn’t strike me right.
Book ten is packed full of amazing stories. So immense is the arc that I am going to completely ignore it and focus entirely on the final issue. This seems strange, right? Well, as you may have gathered there is the inevitable conclusion to all the big themes of the book: Beth, the Israelis, Agent 355, Dr. Mann, cloning, the future of the world.
Most of these themes are closed prior to the final issue, which skips ahead sixty years (the symbolism of jumping sixty years in issue sixty should be lost on no one) and the world has gotten to a very stable point. Cloning is a common part of life and the seventeenth iteration of Yorick has been brought to the President’s palace in France to meet with the one and true Yorick Brown.
It is during this issue where we see, in glimpses and flashbacks, what Yorick did once his quest and mission to work towards restoring humankind to a more stable environment was complete. Vaughan takes us to the private moments of his life, post apocalyptic-race-for-survival. This isn’t about people dying. Everyone dies. But I can honestly say that when you read the scene of Ampersand’s last moments, it pulls at the heartstrings. That little shit of a monkey was the closest thing Yorick ever had to a best friend in a world turned upside-down.
The rest is best left unsaid. It’s hard not to tell you everything, to really reach into the vault and push everything to the door and show it to you right now. But some things are best experienced on one’s own.
The end, though, is a time of reflection. Vaughan has given us something quite spectacular here. If writing is a window to the soul, Vaughan has opened his soul for all the world and what’s inside is a man who fears a world where his own import is crushing him. I would say that given the thought, every man would have this fear.
Y: the Last Man accomplishes what many books set out to accomplish but few achieve: you genuinely care about the characters. And not just whether they win the battle or overcome the villain’s evil plans, no. You care why Yorick lives to become a man and not just the “boy who lived” (no, not Harry Potter). But it’s more than just Yorick, Vaughan develops the secondary characters like Agent 355, Dr. Mann, Hero Brown and even late arrival role players like Rose and Other Beth, Ciba and Natalya.
As I conclude this review it’s time for a grading (new look, new style) and the stars are gone (for now). Based on the genuine nature of the writing, the quality of the art and of the overall story idea, Y: the Last Man has earned a solid A grade.
Check back next week as I review a new story!
This is your Bin Fodder Guru Tim Blacksmith signing off.
Playlist: Incubus – “Sick Sad Little World”, Mute Math – “Ok”, Live – “All Over You”, Rise Against – “From Heads Unworthy”, The Stills – “Fevered”, Jimmy Eat World – “Lucky Denver Mint”, +44 – “Lycanthrope”, Jackson – “All The Way”, The Killers – “This is Your Life”, The Sounds – “Painted by Numbers”, The Helio Sequence – “Can’t Say No”, Face to Face – “Ordinary”, Less Than Jake – “Showbiz? Science? Who Cares?”, Iron And Wine – “Lion’s Mane”, The Get Up Kids – “How You’re Bound”, Chevelle – “To Return”, Gorillaz – “Man Research”