Y: The Last Man, Book Three, by Brian K. Vaughan, Pia Guerra, Jose Marzan Jr., and Goran Sudzuka — a comic book review

YtheLastManBook3

 

Y: The Last Man, Book Three collects issues #24-36 of the graphic novel originally published more than a decade ago.

Please understand that I’m getting current on this relevant piece of pop culture before any television series premieres. I was a latecomer becoming a passenger on The Walking Dead bandwagon, watching the television series before beginning to read Robert Kirkman’s masterful comic. I wanted to take the opposite approach this time so that I might understand the references Chris Hardwick (or whomever) might make about the comics during whatever inevitable aftershow I watch or listen to.

Last I heard, we were getting a series on FX. This actually bodes well for the property. FX has aired several shows I’ve admired over the years, including Justified, Sons of Anarchy, The Shield, and—in keeping with the comic book theme—Legion. I trust that the network could do this Brian K. Vaughan story justice more than some watered-down CW or ABC version might.

With the completion of this TPB, I’m past the halfway mark of the story. I don’t mind admitting that Vaughan has caused me to take the bait and has set the hook. I’m on board for the final two volumes in the series, no matter what.

What I understand, from a storytelling perspective, is that it doesn’t matter what caused this “gendercide” apocalypse. I’m not looking for a rational explanation for everything that’s happened in this story. That’s the McGuffin, the thing that keeps the plot moving forward. The important part is the story itself—what happens to Yorick and his entourage as they journey across the map of this fictional wasteland.

It’s been a fun ride so far, I can tell you. Worthy of a television series.

During this volume, Yorick, Agent 355 and Dr. Mann finally arrive in San Francisco, California, where the doc’s other lab is located. As expected, SF turns out to be a waystation, not an end destination, although Dr. Mann hypothesizes that it was something in Ampersand’s feces that made both him and Yorick immune to the plague that killed every other man.

We also get the backstory of Yorick’s sister Hero, told flashback-style and including everything from before the plague hit to the story present, as she is tracking him to San Francisco.

The Setauket Ring, in their stylish burqas, make a return appearance, and their aim is to get the Amulet of Helene from 355. There’s also Yorick’s possibly-magical engagement ring that could have had something to do with his immunity. Both “magical” totems are pretty much discarded as red herrings in this book. Sorry: SPOILERS. I was glad because I don’t care for too much in the way of magic being mixed up in my science fiction.

Raymond Chandler once advised writers of hardboiled fiction to have a man with a gun in his hand come through a door whenever they weren’t sure what should happen next. Brian K. Vaughan seems to share that way of thinking, only he has a female ninja swoop in and steal Yorick’s pet monkey instead. This, of course, sends our plot in a new direction, since Ampersand seems to be the key to finding a cure for the plague.

Our monkey-seeking protagonists end up on a ship in the Pacific Ocean. I believe they’re bound for Japan, but the Australians get involved and the ship’s carrying a cargo of heroin. The story gets more complicated and ends in a soggy cliffhanger.

We briefly revisit with the formidable Israeli soldier, Alter, who is being tried back home for her extraterritorial crimes. Or is she?

Last, we get to find more about what happened to Yorick’s fiancée Beth after the plague struck. She’s had a rough time of it as well.

A lot of things happen in Book 3, and a lot of possible “answers” are alluded to. But, the story continues. We’re still in a long second act, with complications piled atop complications. I believe the midpoint of our story occurred in San Francisco, with the highpoint of the action occurring at the point nearly all of our characters come together for a baseball park showdown.

This is good stuff. I’m looking forward to the television series now.

Firewater’s Nothing-Livens-Up-a-Scene-Like-a-Monkey-Stealing-Ninja Report Card: A

A

If you think female-dominated dystopian fiction is your thing, this Y’s for you.

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