Y: The Last Man

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Y: The Last Man
Yorick and Ampersand on the cover of issue 23
Publication information
Publisher Vertigo
Schedule Monthly (Issues 1–55)
Bimonthly (Issues 56–60)
Format Maxiseries
Genre Post-apocalyptic, adventure, drama
Publication date September 2002 – March 2008
Main character(s)
Creative team
Writer(s) Brian K. Vaughan
Penciller(s)
Inker(s) Jose Marzan Jr.
Collected editions
Unmanned ISBN 1-56389-980-9
Cycles ISBN 1-4012-0076-1
One Small Step ISBN 1-4012-0201-2
Safeword ISBN 1-4012-0232-2
Ring of Truth ISBN 1-4012-0487-2
Girl on Girl ISBN 1-4012-0501-1
Paper Dolls ISBN 1-4012-1009-0
Kimono Dragons ISBN 1-4012-1010-4
Motherland ISBN 1-4012-1351-0
Whys and Wherefores ISBN 1-4012-1813-X

Y: The Last Man is a dystopian science fiction comic book series by Brian K. Vaughan and Pia Guerra published by Vertigo beginning in 2002. The series is about the seemingly only man who survives the apparent simultaneous death of all other male mammals on Earth except the man's pet monkey. The series was published in sixty issues by Vertigo and collected in a series of ten paperback volumes (and later a series of five hardcover "Deluxe" volumes). The series's covers were primarily by J. G. Jones and Massimo Carnevale. The series received five Eisner Awards.

Publication history[edit]

The 60th and final issue of the series was celebrated with a party at Meltdown Comics, a shop on West Sunset Boulevard in Los Angeles, which was attended by 100 collaborators and fans, including writer/director Joss Whedon.[1]

Plot summary [edit]

On July 17, 2002, all living mammals with a Y chromosome — including embryos and sperm simultaneously die, with the exception of a young amateur escape artist named Yorick Brown and his Capuchin monkey, Ampersand. Many women die from disasters caused by the men's deaths, such as plane crashes. Society is plunged into chaos as infrastructures collapse, and the surviving women everywhere try to cope with the loss of the men, and the belief that, barring a rapid, major scientific breakthrough or other extraordinary happening, humanity is doomed to extinction.

Yorick's mother, a member of the U.S. Congress, commissions Agent 355 of the Culper Ring to protect Yorick. The two travel to meet geneticist and cloning expert Dr. Allison Mann, who works to discover why Yorick survived and find a way to save mankind. Due to damages at Mann's laboratory in Boston, the trio first travel across the country to Mann's other lab in San Francisco, then to Austraila and Japan.

During the trip, the group is chased by multiple parties who know of Yorick's existence and want to capture or kill him for their own purposes, including an Israeli army commando named Alter, the militant Daughters of the Amazon, and a ninja. They also meet friendly women such as Yorick's sister Hero, a Russian soldier named Natalya, an astronaut named Ciba, a former flight attendant named Beth, and Rose, an Australian sailor.

In Japan, the group learns Mann's father, Dr. Matsumori, is also still alive and has created many clones of her. He also reveals that Ampersand had been one of his lab animals, and that he only ended up in Yorick's care by accident. When Mann learns that Matsumori plans to murder Yorick before committing suicide, she kills him. Armed with the samples and information she needs, Mann stays in Japan to work on cloning.

Yorick and 355 journey to Paris, France, where Yorick is reunited with his fiancée. Yorick realizes he actually loves 355, who is killed by Alter as he confesses this. When the Israeli commando attempts to capture Yorick, he defeats her and learns her dedicated pursuit of him was actually a roundabout way of suicide. He lets her live, and she is remanded into the custody of the Israelis.

Yorick marries Beth, and their daughter becomes President of France. Mann successfully begins cloning humans, and society eventually stabilizes. At least seventeen Yorick clones are produced, and geneticists are able to produce clones of other males. At age 85, Yorick is institutionalized following a joke interpreted as a suicide attempt. After imparting advice to one of his clones, he frees himself from his straightjacket and escapes.

Main characters[edit]

  • Yorick Brown, a young amateur escape artist who is believed to be the last human male on Earth.
  • Agent 355, Yorick's bodyguard who works for the Culper Ring, a mysterious U.S. government agency dating back to the American Revolution.
  • Doctor Allison Mann, an expert geneticist seeking to discover the cause of the plague and why Yorick survived.
  • Ampersand, Yorick's Capuchin monkey and the only other male mammal to survive the plague.
  • Beth Deville, Yorick's girlfriend. When the plague hit, she was engaged in anthropological work in Australia.
  • Hero Brown, Yorick's older sister, who joined the Daughters of the Amazon after the plague.
  • Natalya Zamyatin, a Russian soldier who helps Yorick, Agent 355 and Allison Mann.
  • Ciba Weber, an astronaut who is saved by Agent 355 and Allison Mann from a burning Soyuz capsule.
  • Rose Copen, a spy and demolitions expert for the Australian Navy, and Allison Mann's lover.
  • Alter Tse'elon, the new chief of the general staff for Israel. Considered one of the main antagonists.

The plague[edit]

The source of the plague that wiped out every living mammal with a Y chromosome except Yorick Brown, Ampersand and Doctor Matsumori is never fully explained. A number of possible explanations are provided throughout the course of the series, but a definitive answer is left for the reader to decide. Discussing the cause of the plague, Vaughan is quoted as saying:

I feel that there is a definitive explanation, but I like that people don't necessarily know what it is. In interviews we always said that we would tell people exactly what caused the plague. The thing was, we never said when we were going to tell. We weren't going to tell you when we were telling you, I should say. We might have told you in issue #3. There might have been something in the background that only a couple people caught. It might have been Dr. Mann's father's very detailed, scientific explanation. It might have been Alter's off-the-wall conspiracy theory. The real answer is somewhere in those 60 issues, but I prefer to let the reader decide which one they like rather than pushing it on them.[2]

Prominent explanations[edit]

Three explanations are considered by the protagonists:

  • Failed clandestine attack on China (propagated by Lt. General Alter): the Culper Ring created a chemical agent designed to prevent women from conceiving male children. This agent was introduced into China to cripple their economy; however, something went wrong, and the chemical agent instead killed males of all ages.
    • This is stated as the definitive cause of the plague in Brian K. Vaughan's abridged script for Y: the Last Man, penned two years after the completion of the comic book series.[3]
  • Dr. Matsumori's theory:[2] viable cloning made males unnecessary, and thus mother nature destroyed them - the Y-chromosome had been "rationally self-destructing for hundreds of millions of years" and thus the birth of Dr. Matsumori's first successful human clone "triggered a time-bomb that had been ticking for a millennia." In other words, the moment the Y-chromosome became obsolete "nature righted its course."[4]
    • Moreover, Doctor Matsumori had also discovered a "chemical compound that had an adverse effect on the genome of cloned mammals" which he injected into a capuchin monkey (Ampersand) in an attempt to kill his daughter's unborn clone fetus. Yet, as fate would have it, Ampersand was misdelivered to Yorick and when the plague struck, the compound ended up having the opposite effect on non-cloned mammals, shielding all three of them from "god's wrath."[4]
    • This theory is described in the most detail; as seen in the "Motherland" story arc.
  • Cursed amulet (propagated by ancient mysticism and the Setauket Ring): the plague struck the moment Agent 355 removed the sacred Amulet of Helene from the nation of Jordan. The amulet carried a warning that if it was ever taken from its homeland, it would create a tragedy greater than the Trojan War. It is also suggested that the wedding ring Yorick bought for Beth may have protected him and Ampersand from the effect of this curse.
    • This was the first theory for the plague's cause presented in the series, with Agent 355 being warned about the amulet's curse in the opening pages.
    • Yorick's ring was a similarly supposedly mystical Middle Eastern relic, alleged to muddle the bearer's gender in order to give a married man an aspect of his wife's femininity, and vice versa.
    • Dr. Mann claimed the amulet trigger was plausible because magic was just science yet to be understood. The veracity of Dr. Mann's claim is dubious.

Other explanations put forth in the book include:

  • The Earth cleansing herself of the Y chromosome, as believed by the Amazons.
  • The Rapture taking all men and leaving women as a punishment for original sin, as believed by an air traffic controller.
  • The remaining (female) members of Sons of Arizona were convinced that the government was responsible for the plague, and the top government leaders were lying in wait to take over the country.
  • Changes in the Dreamtime affecting normal reality, as believed by some Australian aboriginals and Beth.
  • One member of the "Fish & Bicycle" traveling theater troupe advanced the theory the plague was a direct response to the exclusion of women from true parity in the performing arts, thereby upsetting the natural order. In support of this theory, it was speculated the total exclusion of women from the stage in William Shakespeare's day had resulted in pandemic outbreaks of the Bubonic Plague.
  • At one point, the characters discuss the possibility that the release of the film Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood shortly before the plague may have caused a massive "death-by-chick-flick."

Film adaptation[edit]

The film rights to the series were acquired by New Line Cinema (a sister company to Vertigo), and as of July 24, 2007 screenwriter Carl Ellsworth and director D. J. Caruso, the team behind Disturbia, were attached to the project with David S. Goyer as a producer.[5]

Caruso intended on finishing the script in the summer and filming during the fall of 2008. The script would be a rewrite of the original draft written by Jeff Vintar. Although Vintar's draft was faithful to the original comic book and considered by many to be a success, the higher-ups at New Line Cinema seemed unable to fully embrace the material. A subsequent draft by Vaughan himself, which departed from his own comic considerably, was even less successful in convincing the studio to proceed.[6]

Caruso maintained that the source material was too much to be told in one film and his team decided to concentrate on the best first film they could, which would end somewhere around issue 14 of the comic series. The entire comic series as a whole would be plotted into three films.[7] Actor Shia LaBeouf, who has worked with these writers for the films Disturbia and Eagle Eye, has previously stated that he is unwilling to play the role of Yorick. According to LaBeouf, the role is far too similar to the character Sam Witwicky, which he portrays in the Transformers series.[8] In an interview conducted by collider.com, LaBeouf stated that there is still a chance that he would be starring.[9] Caruso planned to use a real monkey, and not a CGI construct, to play Ampersand.[6] Caruso also said he would like to have Alicia Keys for the part of Agent 355.[10] Zachary Levi, who plays the lead in the TV series Chuck, has expressed interest in playing Yorick as he is a fan of the comic book series, even going as far as having his character Chuck Bartowski read the Y: The Last Man graphic novel in the episode "Chuck Versus the Nacho Sampler".

Caruso remained "loosely attached" to the project, but New Line refused to acquiesce on its development as a stand-alone movie as opposed to the trilogy Caruso (who has since moved on to direct the science fiction film I Am Number Four) preferred.[11] Caruso, maintaining "I didn't think that you could take Yorick's story and put it in to a two-hour movie and do it justice... I just feel like it's too much for one screenplay," ultimately walked away from the project.[12]

French director Louis Leterrier also expressed interest in adapting the series for television.[13]

In March 2012, former Jericho writers Matthew Federman and Stephen Scaia entered final negotiations to write New Line's adaptation of the series, following in the footsteps of Vintar, Vaughan, and Ellsworth. J.C. Spink, Chris Bender and David Goyer were attached to produce; Mason Novick and Jake Weiner are executive producers.[14] Reports in September 2012 suggested New Line was enthusiastic about the draft screenplay produced by Federman and Scaia, and had begun the process of meeting potential directors to hire for the project.[15]

In January 2013, it was announced that Dan Trachtenberg will direct the film.[16] In June 2013, producer David Goyer announced having "a script that’s as close as it’s ever been," and suggested the film could go into production in 2014.[17] However, in January 2014, Brian K. Vaughan stated "It's my understanding that the rights to Y: The Last Man will revert back to co-creator Pia Guerra and me for the first time in a decade if the planned New Line adaptation doesn't start shooting in the next few months."[18] On September 24, Trachtenberg confirmed via Twitter the film was "Not happening. But it's in trusted hands (the creators)."[19] In a subsequent interview he noted that in fact, "The rights reverted back to Brian quite a few months ago."[20]

Collected editions[edit]

The series is collected in trade paperbacks.

# Title Material collected Publication date ISBN
1 Unmanned Y: The Last Man #01-05 January 2, 2003 978-1563899805
2 Cycles Y: The Last Man #06-10 September 1, 2003 978-1401200763
3 One Small Step Y: The Last Man #11-17 April 1, 2004 978-1401202019
4 Safeword Y: The Last Man #18-23 December 1, 2004 978-1401202323
5 Ring of Truth Y: The Last Man #24-31 August 1, 2005 978-1401204877
6 Girl on Girl Y: The Last Man #32-36 November 23, 2005 978-1401205010
7 Paper Dolls Y: The Last Man #37-42 May 1, 2006 978-1401210090
8 Kimono Dragons Y: The Last Man #43-48 November 22, 2006 978-1401210106
9 Motherland Y: The Last Man #49-54 May 2, 2007 978-1401213510
10 Whys and Wherefores Y: The Last Man #55-60 December 1, 2008 978-1401218133

After the finale, the series was re-released, in parts, as oversized hardcovers with alternative cover art.

# Title Material collected Publication date ISBN
1 Deluxe Edition Book One Y: The Last Man #01-10 October 28, 2008 978-1401219215
2 Deluxe Edition Book Two Y: The Last Man #11-23 May 12, 2009 978-1401222352
3 Deluxe Edition Book Three Y: The Last Man #24-36 April 27, 2010 978-1401225780
4 Deluxe Edition Book Four Y: The Last Man #37-48 October 26, 2010 978-1401228880
5 Deluxe Edition Book Five Y: The Last Man #49-60 May 3, 2011 978-1401230517

In 2014, the first Absolute Edition was announced, a specialty over-sized slipcovered edition.

# Title Material collected Publication date ISBN
1 Absolute Y: the Last Man Vol. 1 Y: The Last Man #01-20 July 07, 2015 978-1401254292

Awards and honors[edit]

Y: The Last Man, Volume 10: Whys and Wherefores was nominated for the first Hugo Award for Best Graphic Story. In 2008, Y: The Last Man won the Eisner Award for Best Continuing Series.[21]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Heyman, Marshall (February 17, 2008). "The Last Man Exits". The New York Times.
  2. ^ a b Schedeen, Jesse (February 1, 2008). "Y: The Last Man - The End of an Era". IGN. Retrieved December 13, 2009. 
  3. ^ http://multiversitycomics.com/reviews/review-y-the-last-man-script-by-brian-k-vaughan/
  4. ^ a b "Y: THE LAST MAN VOL. 9: MOTHERLAND". Vertigo Comics. Retrieved May 16, 2012. 
  5. ^ McNary, Dave (July 23, 2007). "Caruso, Ellsworth take on 'Man'; Bender, Spink, Novick, Goyer to produce". Variety. Retrieved July 24, 2007. 
  6. ^ a b Vespe, Eric "Quint" (March 25, 2008). "Quint vibrates on the set of DJ Caruso's EAGLE EYE starring LaBeouf, Monaghan, Chiklis & Dawson! Plus Y: THE LAST MAN tid-bits!". Ain't It Cool News. Retrieved May 16, 2012. 
  7. ^ Matheson, Whitney (January 29, 2008). "A chat with ... 'Y: The Last Man' director D.J. Caruso". USA Today. Retrieved May 16, 2012. 
  8. ^ "Fans: No Y: The Last Man for Shia LaBeouf". ComingSoon.net. June 9, 2009. Retrieved May 16, 2012. 
  9. ^ Weintraub, Steve (June 21, 2009). "Exclusive: Shia LaBeouf talks Y: THE LAST MAN - Says the Project Could Still Happen". Collider. Retrieved June 22, 2009. 
  10. ^ "Alicia Keys in Y: The Last Man?". UGO.com. July 26, 2008. Retrieved May 16, 2012. 
  11. ^ Marshall, Rick (August 4, 2010). "D.J. Caruso 'Loosely Attached' To 'Y: The Last Man,' Still Pushing Studio For Trilogy Treatment". MTV Splash. Retrieved May 16, 2012. 
  12. ^ Philbrick, Jami (November 20, 2010). "EXCLUSIVE: DJ Caruso Talks Y: The Last Man, Dead Space and The Shield Movie". MovieWeb. Retrieved May 16, 2012. 
  13. ^ Marshall, Rick (November 10, 2010). "Louis Leterrier Confirms 'Y: The Last Man' Interest, Prefers TV Series Treatment". MTV Splash. Retrieved May 16, 2012. 
  14. ^ Kit, Borys (March 14, 2012). "New Line Sets Writers for Y: The Last Man". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved May 16, 2012. 
  15. ^ Brodesser-Akner, Claude (September 9, 2012). "Y: The Last Man Now One of New Line’s First Priorities". Vulture.com. Retrieved September 9, 2012. 
  16. ^ "BREAKING: Dan Trachtenberg To Direct Y: The Last Man". iFanboy.com. January 9, 2013. Retrieved January 10, 2013. 
  17. ^ "Exclusive Interview: David Goyer on Man of Steel". CraveOnline.com. June 14, 2013. Retrieved June 17, 2013. 
  18. ^ "From "Swamp Thing" to "Saga" to TV with Brian K. Vaughan". comicbookresources.com. January 22, 2014. Retrieved September 13, 2014. 
  19. ^ [1]
  20. ^ "The ‘Y: The Last Man’ Movie Is Dead Again; Dan Trachtenberg Talks About the Adaptation". September 24, 2014. Retrieved September 26, 2014. 
  21. ^ "The 2008 Eisner Awards: 2008 Eisner Award Winners". Comic-Con.org. Retrieved May 16, 2012. 

External links[edit]