Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Book of the Week 6/18/08 Y: the Last Man Book 10

Written by Brian K. Vaughan
Pencils by Pia Guerra
Inks by Jose Marzan Jr.
Colors by Zylonol
Letters by Clem Robins
Covers by Massimo Carnevale

My store was shorted some books this week and I was only left with about three regular comics. With such a light stack I walked over to the trade isle and remembered that this week...finally...after so much anticipation, Y the Last Man Book 10 was released. Being that it was by far the best thing I read, I'm switching things up this week to review this trade and the series on whole.

Admittedly I was late to the party. I'd heard about why but hadn't bought any of the series. After deciding to start some new books in trade format, I bought the first book and was instantly hooked. Vaughan and Guerra's basic idea of taking "the last man on earth" fantasy and turning it into a nightmare was excellently handled. As I picked up more books and watched situations progress and characters develop, the thing that stuck out to me most was how the gender role was so reversed in this book. With the men wiped out, women don't build utopia but militarize, hunt, and war with eachother. Meanwhile Yorick is not the most manly of males (which was great). Vaughan definitely plays on the darker side of humanity throughout most of the series which at times seemed to cast a shadow over the book but also always pushed the characters to grow and mature.

Apart from the overall themes, I fell in love with the characters. Yorick and 355 were the perfect odd couple comedy act. Every person had a specific dynamic with another character that no one else shared. Even Ampersand became endearing. With Book 10, which I won't spoil here, the goodbyes for each character were a mix of painful, bittersweet, and poetic.

Initially I thought that Pia Guerra's pencils were nothing special. The almost cartoony look I felt diminished the realism of the series world. Over time though, I changed my tune as I realized how much emotion Guerra's characters displayed and also how the somewhat "cartoony" look helped the book to not become too mired down with the previously mentioned dark storylines.

As much as I loved this story, every good story needs a good ending, Robin Hood shoots his last arrow, the Rebel Alliance defeats the Empire, Marty makes it back to 1985, and so it must be for Y. Book 10 utilizes a favorite concept of mine, the fast forward. After some fairly heavy story beats near the end, the last chapter zooms ahead 60 years. We see civilization somewhat rebuilt and it's revealed how the human race continued on. Throughout the flash forward, we go back in time at several points to say goodbye to key characters which is touching. In the last pages of the future, Yorick's fate as I stated earlier is a poetic fairwell that shows just how deep the scars of his journey are.

I truly loved this book. I believe that this is probably one of the best modern comics of recent times and will be held as an example of what the modern age of comics can be. Now, like all good comics, we wait for the movie.

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