Y-The Last Man: Girl on Girl review

Saturday, August 26, 2006

While my recent reading of Fables: Homelands left me feeling lukewarm about the next volume, I just finished Y: The Last Man - Girl on Girl and I'm eager to read more. Perhaps it's that, silly me, when Ring of Truth ended with the characters headed for Japan, I just guessed that this volume would open with them there; instead, Girl on Girl is adventure on the high seas, both captivating in its own right and leaving the reader hungry for more. But Girl on Girl also contains some strong character moments, and some of the best social controversy of the series, which only bodes good things as the series continues.

Yorick, Agent 355, and Dr. Mann, in search of the kidnapped monkey Ampersand, ride on a ship across the Pacific; Yorick is quickly discovered. While Yorick spends the night with the ship's captain, Dr. Mann and 355 have an unexpected liason. An Australian submarine attacks, and the characters learn that the ships they're riding is smuggling heroin; Yorick and the group must escape before the submarine scuttles the ship--with them on it.

The headline of the "Girl on Girl" storyline, of course, is Agent 355 sleeping with Dr. Mann. I had, of course, fallen for the stereotypical cliche that Yorick and 355, slowly building from initial animosity, would fall in love by the end of the series. This, however, is the easy answer, while Y: The Last Man is all about challenging the easy answers. On one hand, we have a story where women make up 99 percent of the characters, the heroes and villains and everyone in between. On the other hand, as Brian Vaughn has his character Kilina point out toward the end, "an entire planet of women, and the one guy gets to be the lead." Y: The Last Man is both gigantically egalitarian, and entirely unfair, and one gets the sense that this is brilliantly on purpose.

Agent 355 and Dr. Mann's relationship--or, at least, the tension that will come from the lack thereof--is one of our first senses of the story turning away from Yorick as the center. We already know that Ampersand kept Yorick safe from the plague, and not vice-versa, and now Yorick's love life begins to wane from the spotlight. That Dr. Mann got together with the professed-heterosexual 355 also raises interesting issues of sexuality; in a world of only women, a heterosexual woman both pursues a homosexual experience, and also, does not pursue an available man when she has the chance. It is, perhaps, what many heterosexual people believe they would not do in the same situation, and reading it, one can't help but think and rethink their own beliefs and attitudes. Ultimately, Yorick and 355 will have to talk this out further, and I'm very eager to see where Vaughn takes this, and if he complicates it even further.

There's one final story included, "Boy Loses Girl." Even as we begin to doubt Yorick's love for Beth, we're faced with a story in which it starts to look like Beth might die. Being the good people we are, the reader worries for Beth as the story continues--only to find her survive. For a while I've thought that when Yorick finally reaches Beth, it would be Beth who rejects him; yet, just as Vaughn causes the reader to care more deeply for Beth, we get the sense that it may be Yorick that rejects her. Once again, between Beth, 355, and Dr. Mann, Yorick becomes less and less integral to the story; perhaps, as an earlier story suggested, he may not even survive until the end.

[Contains full covers.]

Y: The Last Man was refreshing; I think I'm not quite ready to return to the DCU-verse. Space Ghost next, perhaps, and maybe the Absolute Watchmen that's been burning a hole in my shelf. Come on along!
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1 comment:

  1. I am really enjoying this series. The characters are fantastic, the writing is tight and erudite and the art is lovely. Just finished Vol. 8 and couldn't put it down. Here's hoping for a strong final 2 volumes.

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