Y: The Last Man,
#1: Unmanned

by Brian K. Vaughan, Pia Guerra
(Vertigo, 2002)

For Yorick, it's a fairly ordinary day -- for someone who makes his living as an escape artist and keeps a monkey as a pet. But then the unthinkable happens -- ordinary days throughout the world are interrupted as men -- all men -- manifest a sudden, violent illness that leaves all of them dead.

Except Yorick.

Meanwhile, all of the women are fine, with the exception of those who, at the time of the instantaneous epidemic, were in a car driven by a man, an airplane flown by a man or other inescapable circumstance. And their reactions to this new situation run the gamut from despair and suicide to determined scientific enquiry to righteous anger at the whole Y-chromosomed gender. Some women, more extreme than others, cut off one breast and declare themselves modern Amazons. Others form street gangs or new communities, seeking to rebuild a world where men controlled most of the governments, power sources and other vital aspects of survival.

But Yorick remains, and no one knows why. Refusing to be caged, poked and prodded by government officials in Washington, D.C. (where the secretary of agriculture, the highest ranking female in the administration, is now president, and her new team of advisers must help her fight off a rampaging mob of Republican widows), he sets out with the mysterious Agent 355 to find a leading female scientist in Boston who might be able to shed some light on the tragedy -- and explain why Yorick survived.

The concept here is fantastic and provides plenty of potential grist for the mill. Besides Yorick, his bodyguard and his monkey, the tale encompasses his mother, a congresswoman; his sister, a Boston EMT; his girlfriend, who's halfway around the world in Australia; the Boston scientist, who believes herself to blame for the plague; and various and sundry other characters who want to help, hurt or hinder Yorick's progress. This first collection, Unmanned, gets the ball rolling, but it's definitely hooked me to the story and has me jonesing for the next volume.

by Tom Knapp
17 March 2006

Buy it from Amazon.com.