Current Reviews


Y: The Last Man #46

Posted: Monday, June 12, 2006
By: Shawn Hill

“Kimono Dragons: Conclusion”

Writer: Brian K. Vaughan
Artists: Pia Guerra & Goran Sudzuka (p), Jose Marzan, Jr. (i)

Publisher: DC Comics

Plot: I have no idea. Well, I didn’t when I read it. Maybe coming in raw to a series with #46 isn’t the best idea ever. Let me get back to you after I’ve read the trades.

Comments: Luckily, when a friend heard I was doing this review he inundated me with his copies. Without them I’d admit this is not a book aimed at new readers. I don’t require it to be. How could Vaughan summarize everything every month and also advance the plot? The question isn’t what happened; instead it’s whether there’s enough now to pique my interest?

Y has one advantage to the hypothetical new reader, and that is its singular high concept. Like an old school Twilight Zone episode, only one question has been asked: what if your main character was the last man on Earth, but all the women were still around? Everything else for the last four years has followed from this premise. According to those trades, we’ve dealt with misandric Amazon cults, Soviet and Israeli soldiers, Midwestern militias, irate Republican widows, an agitprop theater troupe, mercenary ninjas, covert international spies, scientists mad and otherwise, pirates, and the Australian Navy. But they’ve all been variations on “women are now in charge." So I could give you a cast list, but all you really need to know for this issue are Yorick (the titular Last Man), 355 (his bodyguard), and two capuchins named Bonny and Ampersand. 355 is alright people. Yorick is perhaps the last man you’d want to recharge the human race; not a bad sort, but he’s been called “boy” since this story began, and manhood for him is something he’s still sorting out. He doesn’t quite have the imagination to realize how dire his situation is. He’s prone to foolish quixotic gestures and not much good in a fight. He’s quite the whiz with a lockpick, however.

What I can glean from this issue involves an annoying white pop singer named Epiphany manipulating on her Japanese fans for survival, while scientist Dr. Mann struggles to find the missing male monkey and keep her lover and mother alive under siege from the ninja Toyota. Another ninja attacks Epiphany, and an underworld deal is worked out that involves Hong Kong.

The face off between the Doctor and her family is very expository, relating to the plot. The encounter between the singer and the assassin seems to concern some moral lessons about stardom. And the confessional discussion (where 355 finally gets one of Yorick’s pop culture references) is a touchingly intimate dialogue between two people who know each other very well. That was the part that hooked me; I wanted to know how these two became so deeply involved.

One of the reasons I’d stayed away so long was the art, usually by Guerra. She has a low key mostly realistic style I identify as "house Vertigo," a bit like Chas Truog in that superheroics don’t quite fit, even though there’s a level of stylization and simplicity. I find it a little drab, with few dramatic camera angles or flashy fight scenes, but it does serve to keep the attention on Vaughan’s clever words and plots. A few guest artists have glamorized the style a bit more, but have kept the tone that at least avoids exploitative leering when sex comes up (which is pretty much every issue, in one form or another).

Overall, things are happening on a rather small and intimate scale for a worldwide apocalypse. We’ve got a very limited perspective, mostly from Yorick’s ordinary eyes. But Vaughan’s cast is intriguing, and the concept allows him room for all sorts of asides from which stories are made. He keeps the steps along the way (towards finding both the cause and the cure for the calamity) interesting.

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