Imagine that almost half of the world’s population were to die unexpectedly in an instant. Not only would the remaining population be dealing with the psychological ramifications of such an event, but there would be bodies everywhere, transport disasters, emotional turmoil, etc. Now take it that one step further and imagine that it was just all the men that had died.

Y: The Last Man is a comic book series written by Brian K. Vaughn and published by DC’s Vertigo imprint. All the men on Earth have died within minutes as the result of a mysterious plague (of sorts), leaving the women to deal with a civilisation that has seen its final generation born. The patriarchy is gone and in its place is the establishment of new forms of social constructs.

One man (and his pet monkey) remains. Why was he spared? He doesn’t really care. He’s just eager to travel to the Australian outback where his girlfriend went to visit when the disaster struck. Protected by a scientist and a member of the Culper Ring, Yorrick Brown is forced to rediscover himself and what his gender represents to his own sense of identity while travelling the globe — dealing with lady pirates, assassins, and a group of psychotic, cult-like Amazonian women on his journey.

When you first hear the premise of Y: The Last Man, its almost a certainty that every misogynistic porn fantasy is set to be realised. Yet, the series is smart enough to steer clear of it all, offering one of the sharpest, most engaging comic book collections on the shelf.

Pia Guerra’s art is crisp and accessible to the casual comic book reader, while Vaughn’s writing is sharp and unpredictable. It’s a fun series that takes the reader to some very dark places, forcing them to confront some nasty realities about the way gender defines our society so heavily.

With comic books so in vogue these days, you may have been looking for a comic book series to sample. Don’t hesitate in giving this one a go.

Y: The Last Man is available at most large bookstores and comic shops everywhere.

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey