Sunday, February 13, 2011

Y: The Last Man Vol. 1: Unmanned

Writer:  Brian K. Vaughn

Penciller:  Pia Guerra

Inker:  Jose Marzan, Jr.

Collects issues 1-5

Title:  Unmanned

In the summer of 2002, a plague of unknown origin destroyed everything containing a Y chromosome with the exception of one young man and his pet monkey.  The "gendercide" instantaneously exterminated 48% of the global population, or approximately 2.9 billion men.

Now, aided by the mysterious Agent 355, the last human male Yorick Brown must contend with dangerous extremists, a hoped for reunion with a girlfriend on the other side of the globe, and the search for exactly why he's the only man to survive.

Brian K. Vaughn has set up a very interesting world in this series.  The reader is learning about it as Yorick tries to figure out what happened.  The viewpoint cuts to others at times to present the various possibilities.  The ironic part is that, at least at this point in the story, the characters are not exactly sure who caused the death of the men.

Yorik is not a common name.  The best known use of it was in Shakespeare's Hamlet when Hamlet exhumed the skull of Yorick.  Yorick was a court jester whose skull shows that death is unavoidable.  

Another modern usage of Yorik is in the Star Wars:  New Jedi Order series.  In this series, the Yuuzhan Vong use the mighty yorik-trema to attack.  The yorik-trema is a bio-engineered transport vessel.

If the reader were to combine those definitions, it would imply that Yorik Brown is a light hearted man but that death is inevitable for him.  He would also be the bio-engineered system used to transport the plague.  I will be curious to see if any of this proves true.

In the new world, Yorik's mother is the president of the United States.  Yorik undertakes a journey to join up with his mother.  The problem is that a man will be a target for the radical extremists.  So Yorik puts on a cloak and a gas mask to cover his identity.  Along the way Yorik runs into many obstacles. Vaughn does a good job of imagining what the new world would be like.  The classic journey for the hero is a good way of driving the story.  The reader knows it will only be a matter of time before Yorik travels to Australia in search of his girlfriend.

The art by Pia Guerra and Jose Marzan, Jr. does not get in the way of the story.  It is very reminiscent of Chas Truog's art in Grant Morrison's Animal Man.  The panel designs are very basic old school comic book art.  Do not expect the detail or innovative layouts of someone like George Perez.  The art tells the story.  In this day and age, that is something that many artists forget.  The art would be much better if the action led the eye from panel to panel.  In some cases the actions of a character leads the eye to the left.  Unfortunately, this is on the left side of the page so the only option is to read to the right.  With some slight repositioning of the action, the story would flow much better.

Overall this is a very good start to a series.  If you are looking for story driven comics, this is the book for you.


3 out of 5 stars.

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