When Brian K. Vaughan wrote Y: The Last Man for Vertigo from 2002-2008, little did he know of the impact it would leave behind. We followed the misadventures of the last man on earth for 6 years and 60 issues. The run has been critically acclaimed and commercially successful. After multiple attempts, a TV series is now in the works and coming soon. Read on to find 10 things you need to know about Y: The Last Man.
The Original Comics
The original run of Y: The Last Man was published by Vertigo comics between 2002 and 2008. Pia Guera handled most of the artwork with some inputs by Goran Sudzuka and Paul Chadwick. The series received 3 Eisner awards and was collected in 10 volumes.
The post-apocalyptic tale begins with every mammal on the planet with the Y Chromosome suddenly dropping dead at the same time. Except for our hero, Yorick Brown and his pet monkey, Ampersand. The story follows Yorick’s arduous journey as he treks across the country to the lab of a scientist. Why? To clone himself to make more men so that humanity doesn’t go extinct. While it sounds strange, Yorick undergoes an emotional, deadly journey of survival for the face of the planet.
The story centers around Yorick Brown, an underachieving slacker of an escape artist. He is the son of the highest-ranking government official- Jennifer Brown who later becomes the president of the United States. He is also accompanied by Agent 355, a secret agent disgruntled with Yorick’s antics who she is hired to protect. Joining them is Dr. Alison Mann, a genius in the field of cloning with daddy issues and the adorable, plucky capuchin monkey, Ampersand.
The series stars Ben Schnetzer as Yorick Brown. Diane Lane plays his mother, Jennifer Brown. The lovely Imogen Poots plays Yorick’s sister hero and Lashana Lynch from James Bond and Captain Marvel will play Agent 355. Other cast members include Juliana Canfield, Marin Ireland, Amber Tamblyn, and Timothy Hutton from leverage as the president of the United States.
The series was initially developed by Michael Green. Green, however, left to develop and focus on American Gods. Eliza Clarke who co-produced and oversaw shows such as The Killing, Animal Kingdom and Extant will serve as the show’s new showrunner. She has also written the script for 10 of the episodes for Y: The Last Man. She also wrote episodes for the AMC series Rubicon
The original comic book run tackled a wide variety of issues when talking about politics. It did not shy away from discussing issues both within and beyond America’s borders and jurisdiction. For instance, there is a part of the story that sees Yorick’s mother Jennifer become the new President of the United States and the issues that she has to contend with in a parliament of women. Issues in countries like Israel, Japan, Jordan, and Russia all play major roles in pushing the narrative and plot forward. This might be an excellent time to explore those themes in a more contemporary context, allowing makers to put their spin on the story without really taking anything away.
Given that Y focuses on the story of one man in a world of women, the narrative is not always on Yorick alone. Women and their issues are also of equal importance in what is arguably a feminist text. Discrimination, power distribution, LGBT+ issues, and relationship dynamics are just some of the issues that are dealt with in the original comic. Given that the show is written by a woman, it might help in offering a much more nuanced take on women’s issues and feminism.
It’s a Little Dated
Yes. It must be stated: Y: The Last Man is a product of its time. Given that the series was still a product of the 2000s, there were homophobic slurs used. The series might have been about “the last man”. Re-reading it in hindsight and with different perspectives may make people wonder if it was a piece of TERF(Trans-Exclusionary Radical Feminist) Text. That being said, it was a product of its time and can be construed as such.
Literary Easter Eggs
The entire series is chock-filled with literary references. To begin with, Yorick and Hero Brown are Shakespearean characters from Hamlet and Much Ado About Nothing respectively. The Last Man is a reference to Mary Shelley’s (who invented science-fiction as a genre) novel, The Last Man, after a plague in the 21st century wipes out all but one man.
FX productions happen to have a great track record with some amazing content. Fargo, Atlanta, What We Do in The Shadows, Devs, and Dave. It also boasts of having one the greatest comic book television series of all time- Marvel’s Legion. With an amazing showrunner and a strong studio behind it, here’s hoping Y: The Last Man knocks it out of the park. It is slated to release sometime in 2021.