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These days, I'm the director of the American Library Association' s Office for Intellectual Freedom. I'm also executive director and secretary of the Freedom to Read Foundation.

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Sunday, September 16, 2012

Y the Last Man

Recently I read through the graphic novel series, "Y: the Last Man," by Brian Vaughan, and illustrator Pia Guerra. This is the paperback run published through 2003-2008. It's a stunning work.

The premise of the story is that in 2002, all over the world, every male mammal dies, apparently simultaneously. Yorick Brown, a recent college grad and an amateur escape artist, and his capuchin monkey, Ampersand, are literally the last man and male monkey.

What works: the characters in the story are very well done, with surprising depth. Also surprising is that there really isn't a lot of sex in what some might imagine to be a lurid male fantasy.

What doesn't work so much for me was the trope of crazed female warriors, a sort of Mad Max ThunderDome post-apocaplypse scenario. I suppose that comic books have to have some combat. But I really wondered how likely it would be that women would immediately adopt the violent approach to problem resolution that so many of the other women in the series deplore about the vanished patriarchy. Although the changes in society are glancingly addressed around the globe, I'd like to have read more about that.

The writer was Brian Vaughan, but he clearly collaborated with his female penciler. I'd love to know more about their conversations. At any rate, this is an intriguing example of some fine science fiction writing in one of our culture's most interesting formats. The end is quite evocative. Recommended.

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