Besides having much fun with Beyonce, Lady Gaga, Janelle Monae, Positive K, the Rootz, Jay-Z, and Robyn another fascinating thing kept me from studying for my finals this week. Recommended by my comic book-nerd boyfriend, I started to read “Y: THE LAST MAN” created by Brian K. Vaughan and Pia Guerra. While the series has a volume of ten books, I only got to read the first two , which however already gave me a good overview about the characters and the setting, so let’s see what this is all about.
The spine describes the story line as following:
In the summer of 2002, a plague of unknown origin destroyed every last sperm, fetus, and fully developed mammal with a Y chromosome – with the apparent exception of one young man and his male pet. This “gendercide” instantaneously exterminated 48% of the global population, or approximately 2.9 billion men.
Now, aided by the mysterious Agent 355, the last human male Yorick Brown must contend with dangerous extremists, a hoped-for reunion with a girlfriend on the other side of the globe, and the search for exactly way he’s the only man to survive.
Yorick is portrayed as a boy who is failing the “real” world. He did not get the job he was interested in, he is afraid of a world without his girlfriend and is more interested in magic tricks than anything else.
Besides Yorick and his monkey, Ampersand, the story features a lot of different types or women who all have various ideas about the plague and the new world order. The reader is presented with a post-apocalyptical scenario which is defined by dead bodies, chaos created by the sudden end of everything men operated, the struggle for food, meeting basic needs and a sense of “normality”.
You will find the women who moan for their favorite musicians, partners, brothers, friends and sons and some even kill themselves with the prospect of never having heterosexual sex again. Some try to re-establish civilization and others, the Daughter of the Amazonas, view this “gendercide” as Mother Earth’s way of getting rid of the inferior-minded sex of men; an act of revenge for all the suppression and abuse they made women suffer. So, you find all sorts of women with different motives. However, I was a bit disappointed because up to the point where I read the story, they all still seemed to be acting only in relation to men and patriarchy. Without trying to offend Mr. Vaughan too much, many parts seemed to be very much influenced by a male heteronormative perspective.
Yorick himself is a good example for that. When Yorick and Agent 355 try to discover the mystery behind this plague and his survival, he appears to be a very impulsive but naïve person who acts with a sense of misogynist masculinity. While reading some of the dialogues, I sensed a certain arrogance and self-righteousness, he engages in when interacted with the females around him. An arrogance, he simply has no ground for other than being male.
For example, he lifts his mask once in front of the Amazonas in order to give them a piece of mind and ends up being severely beaten up. He might have considered staying disguised knowing the Amazonas’ violence. Another good example, at one point he lectures a group of debating politicians on the importance of the Constitution while totally missing the greater picture of a situation that needs more then the Consitution in order to survive.
Even though I have mixed feeling about the one or the other part of the story, and I am aware of the new findings on chromosomal determination of the sexes, the comic book raises some interesting questions. The biggest problem with which these women are faced with right after the death of all males, is that many professions are so highly male dominated that (examples in the book are pilots and politicians) society as we know it cannot function in its usual ways.
Why is it possible that one sex is still so much more powerful and influential than the other?
I am definitely going to finish reading Y: THE LAST MAN. I am excited to see how the mystery is resolved. Especially interesting, how a world without men is imagined by a man and what kind of conclusions can be drawn for our world today.
The first issue “Unmanned”.
- franziska krause