Y: The Last Man by Vaughan, Brian, 2003

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What can I say about Y: The Last Man that has not been said innumerable times before? Nothing probably, if I choose to focus on the positive. Since I don't see that much about this series to be positive about, I should be able to fill a few pages here. Recently - against my better judgment - I completed the entire run of the collected series of this comic. I completely (well, not completely; see below) failed to see what the big deal was. Hopefully I've done an adequate job in the reviews that follow of telling you what It was I hated about this series, but to summarize, the main character was an annoying, asexual, neurotic limp noodle, and the series was absolutely filled with one comic-book improbability after another. I wish I knew what it was that genre luminaries such as Robert Kirkman see in this book (take a look at the letters section in individual issues of The Walking Dead. Honestly, Kirkman cannot shut up about the "virtues" of this comic). Y: The Last Man is juvenile and confused, and has one of the stupidest resolutions I have ever read. If it were not for the very final issue, and one or two bits of psychological insight scattered throughout, this whole series would have been pointless. I am fully aware that I am pretty much the only comic book lover who hates this series. Hopefully somebody can explain to me what it is that everyone thinks is so good about this series, because as far as I can tell, this is just a case of mass-hypnosis, and Vaughan has the powers of Mesmero.

Y: The Last Man, Vol 1, Unmanned, by Brian K. Vaughan & Pia Guerra, 2003, collecting issues 1-5 of the comic series: Yorick is an out of work college grad with a penchant for Houdiniesque escape tricks. He and his pet monkey Ampersand live in New York City, though Yorick's beautiful girlfriend is in the Outback wandering, for some reason, semi-nude through the desert. Also, Yorick has a "magic" ring which he believes protected him and Ampersand from "the event." The story is largely his, though there is a constellation of orbiting characters. There is also:

  • Agent 355, a tough executive-agency spy with the Culper Ring, a spy organization first started by George Washington that operates - without explanation - within the borders of the U.S. (useless history that goes nowhere). She tracks down and takes an amulet from a Jordanian humanitarian who is murdered by Arabic hit-men, probably because she owns the amulet, or because she was an advocate for women's rights, then returns to the United States to be assigned to protect Yorick as he wanders the across the country.

  • Dr. Mann, a biologist who implants one of her own eggs with genetic material harvested from a cousin. The second the baby was born all males died simultaneous and instantaneous bloody deaths.

  • Congressperson Brown, Yorick's mother, a democratic representative, who fought a battle for control of the government with the wives of dead republican senators and congressmen after the event.

  • Margaret Valentine, the former Secretary of Agriculture who became the president after all those in line before her died either in the event that wiped out all of the men, or in secondary accidents such as airplane crashes right afterwards.

  • Finally, a psychotic female Israeli colonel who also seeks Dr. Mann, possibly to kill her.

Two months after the day the men died the world is much worse off. There is no electricity, no phones, and very little food. Women are eating each other to stay alive, and a new terrorist organization called The Daughters of the Amazon is busy burning down every sterility clinic and sperm bank that they can find. The Amazons are insane killers who surgically remove one breast so that it is easier to shoot a bow and arrow, just like the "real Amazons" did. They want to kill Yorick because he is male, and chase him wherever he goes.

After the death of all the males the surviving women in Washington D.C. went to war over their former husband's offices. It escalated to a shooting war on the steps of the U.S. Capitol Building, but Yorick's sudden appearance there shocked the survivors into laying down their arms. After Yorick gave the naughty, warlike congresswomen and senator's wives an earful about the American Dream of Our Founding Fathers Complete With American Flags, Apple Pie And Grandma, and got them to put down their guns, the president sent him out into the wilderness with Agent 355 to find Dr. Mann, and promised help in getting his girlfriend/fiancee jetted back to the U.S. from the outback. While on the run the two stopped by a seance for the men where Yorick stupidly revealed himself to a group of Amazons. After he and 355 defeated them they headed off on stolen motorcycles to Boston to find Dr. Mann. The Amazons became so pissed at Yorick that their hot red-head leader assigned a new Amazon to track and kill them. Impossibly that Amazon was Hero, Yorick's missing sister. Let the mindless coincidences begin!

Y: The Last Man, Vol 2, Cycles, by Brian K. Vaughan & Pia Guerra, 2003, collecting issues 5-10 of the comic series: Book II begins as Dr. Mann, Yorick and 355 are on their way to Dr. Mann's back-up office in California. While railing hobo-style across the county in a pig car they were set upon by some vagabonds and thrown from the train. Yorick was rescued by a beautiful country girl but 355 was injured by a blow to the head. Dr. Mann was with 355, but Yorick was tossed from the train minutes before the women were tossed off. Meanwhile Hero had gone off the deep end, especially when she figured out that it was Yorick that she was chasing.

Yorick: So, uh...How much do I owe you for the clean underpants?

Rescuer: On the house.

Yorick: Good, because the only thing I've got to trade is Ampersand...and he'd be about as useful to you as end-stage syphilis.

Ampersand: RRRRRRRR.

Brilliant and insightful. Let's have some more! Yorick's rescuer, Sonia, is harboring a secret; a town secret that may get Yorick and his band killed. The other women in the town have fixed everything up. The gas flows. The electricity works. The medical buildings are clean, and they are safe. Marrisville is a paradise, but Sonia wants out. While arguing with Yorick about the relative safety in town, Sonia says:

Yorick: Why would you want to leave this place? It's a goddam Utopia.

Sonia: You haven't seen us during our periods. All of our cycles are in synch, so once a month this town turns into a bloody whirlpool of bitchiness.

In the end of the story Yorick's party and the Daughters of the Amazon confronted one another. I won't bother telling you how silly that was, though I will mention that the Daughters were captured and incarcerated in a local prison for a time, (did I mention that Merrisville's secret is that they were all ex cons who were sprung when the men died? And that Yorick got bent out of shape because they had not paid off their debt to society?) Anyway, the Jews came back into the end of the story so apparently Yorick will still be chased by the Daughters and the Jews in volume III. Will I bother to find out what happens next? There are decent ideas here, but the writing is miserable. There is also an element of...something...just short of misogyny here. The illustrations are top notch, though the people are all a bit too beautiful. This thing would translate well to the WB Network. So, to answer my last question, probably not.

Y: The Last Man, Vol 3, One Small Step, by Brian K. Vaughan & Pia Guerra, 2004, collecting issues 11-17 of the comic series: As volume three of the Y: The Last Man compilation trade paperbacks picks up, Yorick, Dr. Mann and agent 355 are on their way westwards on an Amtrak train towards Dr. Mann's secret west coast laboratory (how comic book is that?), when suddenly they hear a noise from above. The noise came from a Russian agent named Zamaytin whom the party had actually encountered before. Zamaytin had jumped onto the last train that everybody was on; the train to Kansas. She was dispatched by her government to rescue a Russian cosmonaut who was planning on using an old Soyuz capsule to get back to the Earth along with two American astronauts. Once captured Zamaytin made nice with agent 355 and convinced Yorick's party to help her reach the landing zone. Unfortunately the Israeli soldier, Alter, was hot on their trail. It seems that Alter was getting information from the president of the United States, who had been told after Yorick left that the Culper Ring was untrustworthy - they were assassins and seeders of dissent, and they might even have cheated on their taxes. The president believed, for some inexplicable reason, that a colonel in a foreign army that was operating on American soil would for some reason obey her. Raise your hand if you find that believable.

Most of the action of book three centers around the rescue of the space station crew. Out of concern that the two men would die instantly upon emerging from the capsule 355 and crew set up to receive them at a special "hot suite," which was a secret clean station that 355 and the Russians knew about in central Kansas. As they waited for the Soyuz capsule to land, Alter and her cadre of Isralei soldiers attacked and captured Yorick. Ampersand escaped during the melee. Later, as the capsule landed, 355 shot up Alter's party as they were hunting for her, and Yorick captured and knocked out Alter with the help of Sadie, Alter's number two. It turned out that Sadie did not cotton to Alter's idea of taking Yorick back to Israel so he could guarantee the Israelis a future brood of little Jews to fight Hizbollah and other terrorist groups (who, by the way, probably became inactive at the time of the plague).

Here's where things get really stupid: After freeing Yorick and losing the two astronauts to an explosion in the capsule, 355 went after Ampersand. Ampersand ran away and was found by a troupe of traveling female actors. After escaping, Ampersand managed to stay one step ahead of a mysterious ninja who was hunting him. Once the actors realized that Ampersand was a male, the main playwright was moved to write a play called "The Last Man," about the last man on Earth. In it the husband of the main character, Lionel, returns to his wife several weeks after the plague. He survived in a stalled elevator by eating the corpses of other business men. Word then got out about Lionel's return, and women threw themselves at him. The character of Lionel was going to kill himself at the end of the play - the message being that the survivors should stop hoping for the men to come back and just settle down to do the the heavy work of ensuring the survival of the race on their own. Before the play ended Yorick and 355 burst into the theater in haz-mat suits and rescued Ampersand.

If it sounds like this series is getting even stupider, well, there's nothing I care to say to dissuade you of that notion. At this point the authors of the story have moved from mere spoon feeding to an IV drip. You could not misinterpret the plot of this dog if you tried. Consider Zamaytin's character. She was sent by the Russians to rescue their man. She was traveling incognito; she had no uniform and was trying to blend in with the rest of the riff-raff on the train. But she was still wearing a medal with the Russian flag on it that Russians give to children for being good little citizens. In the United States she was wearing this medal. On her civilian clothes. As she tried to blend in and not come off as a Russian agent. Helloooooo? Tap - Tap - Tap Is this microphone on?

The obvious slurs are still here too. In one panel as the group discussed childhood participation in scouting Agent 355 removed a hoodie, showing her dark black skin and said only, "I was a brownie." Well. It wasn't lost on me, anyway. The action is still excellent, but the meta-messages are dark and sometimes insulting, the authors have abandoned all pretense of nuance, and the characters are as wooden as ever. But, Ive bought several of these books with Christmas gift cards, so keep your eyes peeled for more. The single real character advancement that was made here happened when Dr. Mann acknowledged she was a lesbian to Yorick. Other than that, nothing of any consequence happened. Themes: Sex, Death, Survival, Plagues, Spies; Rating: 1.5 Stars

Y: The Last Man, Vol 4, Safeword, by Brian K. Vaughan & Pia Guerra, 2004, collecting issues 18-23: Book 4 of the compiled Y: The Last Man continues as the party made up of Dr. Mann, Agent 355, Yorick and his monkey Ampersand head west across a very different United States. In the prior issue, which took place in Nebraska, Ampersand's arm was cut badly. By the time the party reaches Colorado the cut has become infected and Ampersand may die. Fortunately 355 knew someone in the area: Agent 711, an ex-Culper Ring agent who retired after her husband died. 355 dropped Yorick at 711's very remote cabin and asked 711 to watch him. They don't want to take Yorick with them because he has a habit of pulling stupid, foolhardy stunts, like exposing himself as a male to angry women with guns. 711 agrees and reads 355's journals, which she left at the cabin. She decides that Yorick needs an intervention so that he can confront whatever guilt it is that he bears that makes him do stupid things.

This story was the first good one in the entire book. Right out of the chute it looked as if it was going to be a poor as the prior stories. Consider: As soon as 355 and Dr. Mann left 711 drugged Yorick. When he awoke he was bound up in ropes like some pathetic Japanese porno girl, and standing in front of him was 711 dressed in a leather bondage outfit, nipples akimbo, holding a whip. It looked like it was going to be a realization of all the kinky sexual tension that the authors had been building up; and it was, but there was much more going on. 711 delved into Yorick's sexual definition of himself in order to get at the guilt and shame that made him suicidal. She pulled some pretty interesting things out of him and for once the authors gave a good explanation of why Yorick was not busy impregnating every woman he encountered, and what it was exactly about the current situation that filled him with shame and brought his guilt to the forefront of his mind. Things like his grandfather's misogyny, an early homosexual rape experience, and his memories of what happened to people in New York City the day the plague struck. This was the first bit of personalization I've seen in this entire series, and despite the extreme nature of it, it worked really well. Now, despite all of that, I think that the author failed to talk about the one real problem that Yorick was really confronting; the idea that he is inadequate to be the last man, and the fear that he is ill-equipped to take on the duty of prommulgating an entire new race of human beings. If they had gotten that deep into Yorick's neurosis, then I would have happily given this book a five. As it is, they stopped just short of it.

The second story in this volume takes place further west. Cut off from passing Interstate 80 to San Francisco by state-wide forest fires in Utah, the party is on Interstate 40 in Arizona. They encounter a bald girl in the desert, P.J., who warns them that the highway has been cut off by a militia calling themselves the "Sons" of Arizona. She warns them that nothing has been able to pass, and their chances of getting to San Francisco are nil. That night as they sleep in the garage P.J. owns Dr. Mann sneaks away to offer medical services in exchange for passage. The Sons of Arizona take her to be a "federal," whom they blame for intentionally loosing the plague on the world, take her hostage and interrogate her by torturing her. 355 wakes up a bit later, figured out what happened, and set off after Mann. When 355 finds Dr. Mann later on, beaten badly, worked over and looking for comfort and forgiveness, Mann admits to her that her cloning experiment was a complete failure, and that she was trying to out do her father in Japan who was also performing cloning experiments. Earlier in the series Mann lied to Yorick and 355 when she told them that she had cloned a boy - her nephew - and tried to carry him to term. Mann admitted to 355 that the clone was really of herself, and that it came out stillborn and monstrous. She also admitted that she had fallen for 355.

Volume 4 ends in a tremendous amount of bloodshed: 355 slaughters all of the women in the Sons camp, while Yorick gunned down the last one who had been dispatched to kill P.J. for telling the "feds" where to find them. When 355 and Mann returned Yorick credited the killing of the soldier to P.J., who was also dead. Volume 4 also introduced one new element and reintroduced another. After the party left 711 three cowled figures identifying themselves only as the "Setautet Ring" enter the cabin and kill 711. Later Hero turns up at the hot suite looking for Yorick(where incidentally, Ciba, the only surviving astronaut, had just given birth to the male child - in the clean room, of course - of one of the male astronauts). Themes: Sex, Death, Survival, Plagues, Spies, Psychology, Dreams, Torture; Rating: 3.5 Stars

Y: The Last Man, Vol 5, Ring of Truth, by Brian K. Vaughan & Pia Guerra, 2005, collecting issues 24-31: Volume five of the collected Y: The Last Man comic series is a bit confusing. It starts off with a vignette where Yorick enters a Catholic church in California, and meets a flight attendant named Beth (also blond, like his girlfriend in the Outback), sleeps with her, helps her fight off a few Amazons, then is pushed out the door. Within the next twenty or so pages we find out the following:

  • The other Beth is still alive in Australia, and has been taken captive by a gang of Aboriginal women.
  • Hero has returned, and is chasing Yorick. Hero was deprogrammed by the women of Marisville. After they let her go Hero went to Washington D.C. and met her mother, who set her out to find Yorick. Hero traced Yorick to Kansas where, when she views the newborn male child of Ciba in the clean room, we learn that Victoria speaks to her inside her mind like Jessica did to Leto II in the Dune series. This magical psi-power is never explained and disappears completely after this one instance.
  • That the engagement ring Yorick bought for Beth was purchased in a magic shop, and may have some special properties. It is made of gold and silver, apparently to represent the male and female sides of us all.
  • Toyota (Toyota? Really?), the ninja, has followed Yorick to San Francisco, and is traipsing around on the rooftops following him.

The three mysterious burka-covered ladies of the Setautet Ring are there too. They confront 355 and Yorick after a basketball game and demand "The Amulet of Helene," from 355. During the fight we learn that they are a Culper Ring splinter group who became "disgruntled" when Jimmy Carter tried to break up the Culper Ring in 1977 (perhaps my greatest guffaw in the entire series was this bit about the Culper Ring versus Jimmy Carter). One of the three agents of the Setautet Ring stole Yorkck's magic engagement ring from him. Soon after the ring is taken from Yorick, he begins to hemorrhage like other plague victims. Mann and 355 consider that there may be some connection to the ring, but cannot really bring themselves to believe it. Still, 355 goes to the Setautet Ring to trade the Amulet for the engagement ring. The Setautet people believe that the Amulet has been cursed by Zeus and that it killed all the men. When 355 hands it over they destroy it, because they don't want the men to ever come back. I am not sure how the destruction of an object that they believe killed the men will lead to a situation where males continue to die. It appears that this evil splinter wing of spies really did not think it through very well, does it?

Hero then shows up, 355 kills the Setautet women, and takes Hero back to Yorick. While they were gone Mann figured out that Yorick had botulism and saved him. As those two fight over Hero, the ninja broke into the lab, stole Ampersand and fled to Japan. The gang packed up to head to Japan to get Ampersand back, because Dr. Mann had come to believe that something in Ampersand's shit saved him and Yorick; Ampersand was some sort of mutant that was immune, and thank god he enjoyed a solid afternoon of tossing his crap at Yorick! Who says that friendship between man and monkey is impossible? But before they went, they send Hero with stool samples to Kansas so that the doctors there could try to come up with something that would let the Ciba's newborn out of the clean room.

This book had so much going on it was difficult to follow. The creators of this story took a giant step backwards in the telling of their tale. There was really nothing new here, and not much worth talking about. Who the hell named these characters? Why am I putting myself through this? I swear, there is absolutely no depth whatsoever to this story. I find it infuriating. I guess I'm continuing at this point because issue four was decent, and I want to see if the author/artist team can do that again. Themes: Spies, Plague, Gender; Rating: 2 Stars

Y: The Last Man, Vol 6, Girl on Girl, by Brian K. Vaughan & Pia Guerra, 2005 collecting issues 32-36: This book is set approximately two years after all of the males in the world suddenly died of a convulsive, hemorrhagic condition that left nothing but females alive, save for one man, Yorick, and his male monkey, Ampersand. The group (lets call them "the gang" from here on, shall we? This refers to Yorick, Mann, 355, Ampersand, and soon enough, Rose) is on the heels of a Japanese ninja who has stolen Ampersand. They have taken jobs on a former luxury ship called The Whale that has been converted to a freighter. Yorick is being hidden as cargo while 355 and Dr. Mann pose as shipmates. During the voyage Yorick is discovered and the three of them are taken to Kalina, the incredibly hot Hawaiian captain of The Whale. Kalina is sympathetic to their plight, and becomes hot and bothered by Yorick's presence, so she sends 355 and Mann back to their covers and offers to hide Yorick in her cabin.

Meanwhile there is another poser on board. Another of the crew, Rose, is a member of the Australian woman's navy. The navy is hunting Kalina and The Whale because she is flooding the Australian economy with heroin. Rose murdered the radio operator and broadcast their location to the H.M.A.S. Williamson, an Australian submarine that was on the prowl. As Kalina and Yorick got down to the business of glandular contact (and Dr. Mann and 355 got down to the same) the Australian submarine attacked. Because the crew of The Whale put up a fight the submarine used torpedoes, knowing that their agent, Rose, would probably die. Fortunately Rose survived, as did Mann, 355 and Yorick. The crew of the sub picked everyone up and set sail for Australia - presumably so that Yorick and his long-lost girlfriend Beth can rekindle their love - with a promise to help them get to Japan to find Ampersand and his magical, plague-healing shit (and I don't mean stuff in his drawer. I mean his ka-ka). More, Rose revealed that she is a lesbian just when Mann was feeling jilted by 355, who not only appears to be in love with Yorick still, but was a little ashamed over her Sapphic interlude with Mann. Things seem to be workin' out, ladies and gents!

Besides giving readers a break in the main plot, this book does have a reason for existence; It presented a(n incredibly weak) debate over drug policy. Kalina was a heroin distributor, but she was also a true-believer, she said, for medicinal purposes. She thought that by selling cheaply in bulk the women of the world would have access to a wonderful headache remedy. But the evil gangs refined it so that the poor Australian women became addicted to it, thus using it in an evil way. It's pretty obvious that Vaughn was trying to capitalize on the noble-pirate archetype here. I have to say that because he once again did nothing more than gloss over the surface of these characters and omitted any kind of character or motive analysis. The real point of what he was trying to do was completely lost on me. Sometimes reading this book is like reading a newspaper written by ten year old reporters. Generally the only thing Vaughn gives the reader is what is plainly in front of his characters/observers: There is absolutely no inquisitiveness to any of his charters. I mean really; do you think that Yorick - who honestly wanted the women in Marisville (back in issue #1) to be re incarcerated so that they could serve the rest of their sentences - would associate with or help a heroin dealer for even a single second after he heard what she was up to?

One thing that did work pretty well in this book was the authors moved Dr. Mann's character forward a bit. She has always been a bit hard to take; angry all the time, and rarely pleasant to the others. Here she got a taste of human companionship, and when 355 took that away from her and rejected her she reacted in an all too human way; by withdrawing further. Rose's attentions later seemed to pull her out of the depths of her funk. I personally found the entirety of the circumstances to be true to life, and I really felt something for Mann here.

There were a few other important things here. During her trial in Israel Alter escaped and had Sadie - who mysteriously was appointed to be the judge in her case - murdered. I presume that her search for Yorick will start up again, and 355 is going to have to put her down yet again, probably in Japan. Also Beth was staked out in the desert where she was drugged and set on a spirit quest. During her delusions she spoke to the spirit of Yorick who told her that he is still alive. Since the gang is on its way to Australia, I expect that a new team member shall soon join them.

Y: The Last Man, Vol 7, Paper Dolls, by Brian K. Vaughan & Pia Guerra, 2006, collecting issues 37-42: Finally, after 36 issues of this book, things are starting to get real here. I've spent much of the last six books bitching about how terrible this series is, and I think I've come to a big conclusion here. The problems that I had all along were nothing more than the pains of character development. Finally, at last, the characters are starting to grow on me. Just as they are coming to the conclusion of their mission they have finally started to gel as a group, they are working togehter, and they have finally stopped doing idiodic things. I have not changed my opinion at all of the past six volumes. My criticisms of the prior books remains, and in my mind it's still valid. But for once I think I am starting to see why so many people love this series. A side note here: I walked into a local comic book shop a year or so ago, right after I had read the first two (disasters, IMHO) collections in this series. I asked around for a non-costume SF mini-series of graphic novels that was good. The place was loaded with gamers and comic-collectors, and to a "T" they all mentioned Vaughan's Y: The Last Man. I scoffed (mostly because I had read volumes one and two, and knew it for the dog it was), but a while later I decided to give them the benefit of the doubt and give this series another try. As you can tell, it was not all fun, but now I think I am starting to see what it was they saw in it. Good for me for persevering, huh? Unfortunately where this book starts to get the character relationships down pat, it also introduced the first in a growing cyclone of coincidence that is hard to see through. More on that later.

Volume seven begins with the gang in Australia. Yorick is looking for Beth with 355 while Mann and Rose try to figure out their relationship near Sydney harbour. Yorick and 355 were surprised by Paloma West (out of all the ridiculous names in this series, this one was my favorite. I kept thinking how it sounded like a bondage safe-word (which ironically was the name of issue four)), a reporter for a scandal rag called "The Monthly Visitor." West cold-cocked 355 and took a nude photo of Yorick to publish. 355 and Yorick chased after her to prevent the photo from getting out. They were unable to stop her, but they did manage to beat the crap of each other a few times. Meanwhile Mann and Rose consumated their relationship on the sub. Afterwards Rose sneaked back to the captain and confirmed for the readers that seducing Mann was part of the plan to get information, and to keep an eye on Yorick.

In other parts of the world Alter got to Yorick's and Hero's mother, who had become the Secretary of the Interior, and assassinated her. Meanwhile Hero, who was taking a message to the California Beth, found her and learned that she was pregnant with Yorick's child. After escaping the clutches of a female Catholic priest who traveled around with two female Swiss guards, Hero and Beth made tracks to Kansas so that the baby could be born in a safe environment.

More imporantly we learn that Ampersand used to be the property of Mann's father, a geneticist who was racing with Mann to make the first cloned human. As it turns out, Mann's father gave Ampersand a shot of a serum that is somehow realted to the cloning project (or was it? Mua-ha-ha-ha!). Ampersand survived the shot and was sent to Mann in New York, but before arrival he escaped. When the shippers recaptured Ampersand, they put him into the wrong box, and instead of being delivered to Mann, he was delivered to Yorick who had agreed to help train a monkey for the disabled as a last-ditch effort to prove to Beth that he was a "good guy."

In side stories we learn how 355 was "adopted" by the Culper Ring as a young teen aged girl after her parents died, and the harsh training she received.

I've said enough about this book already. It was better; it was bad in a new way. Whatever. I've only got three more books to go. May as well see this to the end.

Y: The Last Man, Vol 8, Kimono Dragons, by Brian K. Vaughan & Pia Guerra, 2006, collecting issues 43-48: Volume eight of this book was pretty much more of the same as volume seven. Better characters, more conicidence. Most of the action in this book takes place in Japan. The gang is there to search for Ampersand, who escaped from the ninja Toyota at the end of volume seven. Despite the focus on the search, the book is mostly Dr. Mann's. As Rose and Mann make their way to Mann's mother's home, 355 and Yorick search for Ampersand. Their search takes them to a brothel staffed with animatronic men, and ultimately to the lair of a Britney Spears-type diva who has control of an all-girl Yakuza and who had Ampersand.

Meanwhile Mann and Rose surpirse Mann's mother, who runs Rose through with a samuri sword thinking that she is a thief. Fortunately Mann's mother is a physician and they patch Rose up, but while Rose is under she muttered to Mann that she was a spy sent by the Australian Navy. After Rose is patched up Toytoa breaks in, stabbs Mann in the shoulder and disappears with Mann's mother after throwing one of those ninja-staple smoke-bomb pellet thingies.

Meanwhile Hero, Beth and Beth's new daughter, also named Beth, came across Zamaytin in a cornfield. They retire to the hotroom, but make haste to leave when Alter shows up with a few Israeli tanks. Alter plays nothing nicely once she gets inside again.

A few flashbacks, which Vaughan now seems deterimined to interrupt the narrative with, tell the story of Mann's childhood and coming of age. Her father had an extra-marital affair with his assistant, Ming. Even back then he was interested in cloning humans. He worked in a few countries before he decided to set up shop in China where the laws were not unfavorable to him. Disgusted with his brilliant daughter who slept with other women, the two separated. Mann went on to become a Harvard fellow who impregnated herself with her own clone. The story ends as Mann starts bleeding from her vagina. I wonder if Vaughan will drop this part of the story? He has dropped other cliff-hangers like this throughout.

Next, we learn that Beth has escaped Australia and has gone to Paris, where she was originally planning on meeting Yorick after her trip abroad. Apparently Beth believes her vision quest and is asking random people in Paris if they have seen the man in the photo. You'd think that the massive piles of French women would mark the Parisian location of the last man. Finally, we were given Alter's history and told that because some kid at summer camp stood her up, she has grown to distrust all men. Boo-Hoo.

Here we go again.

Y: The Last Man, Vol 9, Motherland, by Brian K. Vaughan & Pia Guerra, 2007, collecting issues 49-54: The penultimate issue of Y: The Last Man starts the long process of closure. This part of the story takes place in China. Recall in the last issue the ninja, Toyota (God, that name is so stupid) has taken Mann's Mom captive. Mann believes that Toyota works for her father's ex-partner and lover, Ming, who carried on his experiments after all the men died. Lately Mann has become ill, probably as a result of giving birth to a clone two years ago at the beginning of the series. I have no idea why that would make Mann ill this late in the game, and apparently neither does Vaughan because he never bothers to say. He does say however, that Mann is planning on cloning Yorick and a few other males who may have some unique survival properties when introduced the magical properties of Ampersand's shit. Make any sense? Well, it kinda does, when you read it and see the pretty pictures.

Anyway, when Mann gets ill and passes out Yorick and 355 decide then would be a good time to leave to find Mann's mother. They leave her in the hands of Rose, who has already had "the talk" with Mann about her spying for the Australians. Mann told Rose to get out, then let Rose give her manual pleasure, then keeled over and started bleeding from her nethers again. Wait a minute! An angry gay woman who bleeds a lot? This is starting to remind me of my first marriage. No wonder I hate it!

While on the hunt Toyota found and darted Yorick and 355. When Yorick woke up he was tied to a chair near Mann, while 355 and Rose were suspended from a pipe in a different room. Shock of shocks, Ming is not up to all of this. Mann's dad is. He's still alive! He goes through some convoluted story about how he sent Toyota to poison some of Mann's food (because Ampersand was diverted to Yorick) that would seriously mess up her clone child. Because Toyota poisoned Mann's food her clone baby was still born. Meanwhile his own clone of Dr. Mann was delivered by Ming. The second that baby was born a wave of death spread from China at the speed of light (186,000 miles per hour for those of you who flunked physics) that killed all the men in its path. Mann's dad believes that all of nature is connected, and once nature realized that men were not needed anymore - that the women could reproduce photogenically - men were unnecessary. He cautioned that if Mann had succeeded in birthing a male version of herself all the women might have died. Not sure how that equates, as without woman's plumbing nothing would be born, but it was enough to shut Mann up.

Oh yea, one more thing. The evil Dr. Mann has been making clones of the good Dr. Mann for years. He had about a dozen little versions of Dr. Mann running around his lab, all at different stages of growth. I kept wondering how many of them were lesbians, but again, Vaughan wasn't saying.

In his final coup-de-grace, Mann's dad decided that since nature had selected men to die (it really had done nothing of the sort) both he and Yorick had to die. I guess he thought that he could not end his life until his daughter and the guy he learned survived a year or so after the plague had to be in the room with him when he did it. Anyhow, Mann got the jump on daddy and cracked him in the head, killing him. Meanwhile 355 put a hurtin' on Toyota. She died, but 355 had her falopian tubes severed. .

In the end Mann and Rose kissed and made up. Mann set to solving the man problem while Yorick and 355 boarded a train for Paris. Back in the United States a couple of babes set to burying all the men's bodies, while the crew of theater performers made their way to Hollywood to start remaking action pictures. I have no idea where any of this is going, but I suppose Yorick and Beth will soon be reacquainted. Seriously, with every heterosexual woman in the world available, you would think that this pussy would just settle down with five or six of them. Anyway, "it" finally happened, and I'm back to wondering what the heck it is people see in this damn series.

Y: The Last Man, Vol 10, Whys & Wherefores, by Brian K. Vaughan & Pia Guerra, 2008, collecting issues 55-60: Well, I have finally finished volume ten of the collected Y: The Last Man, and I think I have finally seen what it is that people love about this series. The final five issues of this comic - those collected here - may be some of the finest ever produced. Maybe not on the same level as Watchmen, but really, not far off at all. There is so much subtlety, nuance, unstated psychological conundrums and damage here in this issue that it actually angers me because the producers of this damn book have obviously been holding back. Where the last nine volumes of this series essentially answered the question of what the plague was and why it happened, Whys and Wherefores tackles all of the other issues that arose during the course of the telling of that story. This volume tells what Alter is really after, what came of all of the sexual tension between 355 and Yorick, and what happened to Beth, Beth and Hero. It wraps up Mann's and Rose's love affiar, shows how the women of society go on to make a utopia based on cloning, and what Yorick's and Ampersand's places in it will be. What I cannot fathom is why these guys told the story that they did. As I look back on the last ten volumes of this story, the only things that I can think of were that the set up was great, the reasons for the plague were really stupid, and that Yorick was one of the dumbest kids I have ever read about. These last five issues were so amazing that it stupefies me that they did not decide to focus on this story; the story of rebuilding the world with only two men in it (Yorick and his clones, and Vladimir, the child of Ciba the astronaut, who went on to rule Russia). The last few pages were told in flashback, but they also showed what the world had become sixty years into the future. So why did they make us spend so much time following this mooning shithead while he traipsed across the world looking for the first girl he ever nailed? Whom he thought he was in love with? It must have been in anticipation of this one book; the one about the rebuilding of the world. Jeez! Themes: Love, Death, Clones, Future History, Utopia. 4.5 stars.

Reviewed by GTT · Rating Rating of 2 star(s)


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