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Y: The Last Man #42

Posted: Monday, February 20, 2006
By: Michael Deeley



Writer: Brian K. Vaughn
Artists: Goran Sudzuka (p), Jose Marzan Jr. (i)

Publisher: DC Comics/Vertigo


It’s said that a thousand monkeys banging away at typewriters would eventually produce the complete works of Shakespeare. It means anything achieved through design can also be accomplished by accident. The question is, how do you know the difference?

Five years ago, Ampersand was injected with something by Dr. Mann’s mother. Through accidents and coincidence, Ampersand was delivered to Yorick as a helper monkey instead of Mann’s lab. We know what happened after that. This issue gives us some glimpses of Ampersand’s and Yorick’s life since the plague, and updates us on his current situation.

I think Vaughn‘s gone into “Meanwhile” mode on this series. The last two issues have focused on supporting characters instead of the main story. The next issue might feature Dr. Mann or the Isreali general. While these issues help flesh out the book’s world and expands on old subplots, it feels like the series has been in a holding pattern.

At least we can enjoy the ride. We learn Yorick volunteered to train Ampersand to get closer to Beth. Dr. Mann’s speech about how love is nothing more than a chemical reaction is ironically funny. We also get a monkey’s dream and insight into Ampersand as a character. Yes, we begin to see the monkey as complicated and emotional as the humans. Which ties back into Mann saying how Yorick is pretending he’s not like a monkey. Ampersand is an animal, but he’s also a vital member of the cast and important to the plot.

Vaughn also makes us think there’s no difference between random chance and design. It seems like a string of coincidences led to Yorick, enabling him to survive the plague. But who’s to say the experiment that enabled him to survive isn’t connected to the plague? Could the cure and the disease come from the same source? Were the random events that enabled one man’s survival the universe’s way of counteracting the death brought about through order? Pie in the sky stuff, but entertaining thoughts nonetheless.

You’ve really got to hand it to Vaughn: he does an issue around a monkey that doesn’t talk and turns it into a treatise on chaos theory and human behavior in animals. That’s what makes this such a great series. It’s so smart, it’s bizarre. This is the kind of stuff Vertigo was created to publish.



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