Here’s an entry from DC Comics’ Vertigo imprint. Y the Last Man ran from 2002 to 2008 and was written by Brian K. Vaughn, with art Pia Guerra. The covers were provided by the insanely talented J.G. Jones. If you’re a fan of Lost then you’re familiar wit Vaughn’s writing, he was a writer on staff for seasons 3, 4, and 5. He even received a Writer’s Guild nomination for his Season 4 work on the show. Y the Last Man is one of the comic book series that feels like a perfect framework for a television series as well. We have a regular cast of characters involved in one large arching story, with small six issues arcs along the way. The series looks at some issues of gender in global culture and is one of those great philosophical science fiction stories.
It’s present day, and Yorick Brown is an amateur escape artist practicing a classic Houdini trick while on the phone with his long distance girlfriend, Beth. In the middle of the conversation the world falls apart. It seems a virus has swept the globe in a freakishly quick amount of time killing every male animal on the planet, except for Yorick and his pet capuchin monkey Ampersand. The duo quickly find that the world is both different and depressingly familiar now that it is female dominated. The same sort of tribal mentality that ran patriarchal society is at work in the matriarchy. Some women believe this was an act of god to curse man for his millenia of foolishness. Some women are willing to kill any man they might see alive. Some women see this as biological catastrophe and are working to developing cloning technology to keep the human race alive. Into the mix is thrown Agent 355, a female member of a secret society dating back to the presidency of George Washington. Agent 355 is sent to protect Yorick as he journies from the States to Australia to find Beth.
The series has some wonderfully exciting moments. I’m reminded of a subplot that involves the belief that a group of male astronauts in the international space station might still be alive. Teaming up with scientists hiding out in a secret laboratory in the Midwest, Yorick and crew attempt to aid in the crew’s return to Earth. At the same time, a militant force of Israeli soldiers are closing in on Yorick whom they plan on using to reproduce. The Israeli angle is one of many interesting elements in the series. In real life, Israeli is the only military on Earth that have women as an integral part of defense. This means in Yorick’s world, the dominant military force are the Israelis. They are the only ones with battleships and air force pilots. There’s also some interest threads involving the Muslim world and what happens to it in a culture without men. If gender studies is something of interest to you, then Y will definitely leave you with some clever ideas to ponder.