Adaptations of comic books are a dime a dozen these days, what with MCU superheroes dominating the film industry and DC television shows spreading like wildfire. However, as any comic book reader will tell you, the pages of graphic novels have so much more to offer than superpowers. Brian K. Vaughn's #YTheLastMan is a perfect example. This post-apocalyptic series features a dystopia in which a mysterious illness has entirely wiped out the Y chromosome, killing every male being in the world — except for two: Yorick, and his monkey sidekick, Ampersand.
The award-winning series (praised by Greats including Robert Kirkman and Joss Whedon) ran for 60 issues, is currently in the works for a television show, and promises to be like nothing you've ever seen before. Let me explain.
A Feminist Comic Book With A Male Lead? Yep
What could be more feminist than a world in which a plague has wiped out mankind, leaving women to rule it? Not a lot. What you inevitably get in a story like this is an opportunity to explore a variety of diverse female characters, many of whom necessarily take on powerful, leadership, roles. What is most interesting about this very female-centric narrative is the use of the male protagonist.
Brian K. Vaughn is certainly known for writing some of the most feminist-minded comics of this generation. Among his most praised work is Saga, a sci-fi epic for the ages that features the complicated, badass, mother/soldier Alana.
Vaughn also writes Ex-Machina, and Runaways (also being adapted for TV). He's even worked alongside Joss Whedon on the continuing Buffy the Vampire Slayer comic book series.
While some of these graphic novels tend to focus on outstanding female leads, Y: The Last Man takes an outsider position.
What would it be like to be the last man on Earth, to be made vulnerable to what has been historically thought of as the weaker sex? These are the types of questions this comic book tackles. For added punchiness, Yorick is a sweet and witty lit major, with a burning desire to remain faithful to his girlfriend — who is across the world in Australia, and has no idea he's alive. The potential for adventures and chaos is endless, and Vaughn takes full advantage.
Action, Thrills, Sex, And Philosophy? Yep
Y: The Last Man is lousy with adventure and is action-packed. Being protected by a bodyguard who simply goes by Agent 355, and accompanied by a clone-researcher Dr. Alison Mann, Yorick tries to safely navigate his way to Australia. As it turns out, though, getting across the US alive will be a miracle. Like any good apocalyptic dystopia, the survivors have divided themselves according to ideologies, goals and needs. That, as always, proves to be pretty dangerous.
Yorick not only has to be concerned for his safety in regards to being every woman's last chance at procreation (and every straight woman's only chance for a good night), but has to be on guard for those who might have other, more sinister, plans for him. He comes across women belonging to a group of psychotic patriarchy denouncers, women who broke free of prison and formed a community, and women who just recognize his value. To some, he is a precious gift. To others, he's a glitch in some divine plan. Either way, 355 has her work cut out for her. Not that she isn't a total badass that is entirely up to the challenge, because she is.
For some added fun and substance, sex and philosophy go hand-in-hand in this comic book. Casual sex is no longer casual when the extinction of humanity hangs in the balance. Every potential sexual encounter is heavy-handed, but that doesn't exactly slow down hormones. Women's sexuality is deeply explored by eliminating the sustainability of traditional lifestyles. Suddenly, the concept of fluid sexuality becomes an undeniable reality, and how people approach that is interesting to see play out.
As with everything else, Yorick has a tendency to think critically about the nature of sex, and subsequently finds himself in more than one awkward situation. But sex isn't the only thing on Yorick's mind (in fact, it might be the least of his concerns), or anyone else's. On any given page, characters discuss and consider the ways in which gender and society is reframed by the sudden extinction of men. Everyone has lost a brother/father/lover/friend, and society may never look the same again — there's no taking that lightly.
Excited Yet? Here's The Lowdown
There's no word yet on exactly when we can expect this action-dystopia to hit our television screens. What we do know is that writer/creator Brian K. Vaughn seems heavily involved. He will be penning the TV script for FX, which is a huge relief to fans who are always nervous about seeing their favourite comics bastardized in adaptations. Back in January, FX said they expected to have a script for the ongoing series within the next couple months.
Even more good news, Michael Green has jumped on board as showrunner. For those of you who don't recognize his name, he is a bit of a comic book adaptation veteran, with credits dating as far back as Smallville, leading all the way up to Marvel's most recent home-run, Logan. OK, see? Now you're excited.
What is your favorite moment from Y: The Last Man?