Posts Tagged ‘yorick brown’

Cannonball 51: Y: The Last Man, Volume X: Whys and Wherefores by Brian K. Vaughan

Y: The Last Man, Vol. 10: Whys and WhereforesY: The Last Man, Vol. 10: Whys and Wherefores by Brian K. Vaughan
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Whys and Wherefores is a beautiful ending to a fantastic series. Plot lines are tied up, confrontations come to heads, and our heroes find resolution, although not the pat, happy endings you might hope for.

Brian K. Vaughan continues to flesh out the post-apocalyptic world he conceived in Volume I, and he brings things full circle. He shows a world that has learned how to cope with a catastrophic event, but is not left unscarred by it.

And Vaughan also closes the book on all of the major characters. For a series that mostly falls under the category of action/adventure with a few comic overtones, this last volume is unexpectedly moving, and some of its more tragic events are like a serious punch to the gut.

And the ending is just beautiful. It’s perfect. It’s poignant without being romanticized, moving without being melodramatic.

The series makes a lot of social commentary,but Vaughan chooses to end the series with a broader commentary on life: what’s important; what really matters. While I don’t necessarily agree with all of his views, I do think he did an artful job of getting his points across. Making serious statements about society and life through the vehicle of an action/adventure comic book is a noteworthy accomplishment.

Y: The Last Man is an excellent series, and Whys and Wherefores is a worthy ending.

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Cannonball 50: Y: The Last Man, Volume IX: Motherland by Brian K. Vaughan

Y: The Last Man, Vol. 9: MotherlandY: The Last Man, Vol. 9: Motherland by Brian K. Vaughan
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

We’re cranking up for a bang-up finale. Motherland does a great job of ramping up the excitement and keeping the revelations coming at a steady rate.

We finally discover the identity of Toyota’s employer, and that leads to several more revelations, some of them devastating. And the reason they’re devastating is that Brian K. Vaughan has done an excellent job of setting the reader up for maximum effect.

We finally learn the cause of the “gendercide,” but that revelation kind of pales in light of what’s become the true core and heart of this series: the relationships between the three main characters. Vaughan gets his audience really invested in the characters over the course of the season, and his pacing is impeccable. You don’t get bored with the characters, and their relationships are vibrant and real and ever-changing.

Volume IX is so good that it makes you almost afraid that Volume X won’t live up to it. That’s about the highest compliment I can pay to the penultimate volume of any series.

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Cannonball 49: Y: The Last Man, Volume VIII: Kimono Dragons by Brian K. Vaughan

Y: The Last Man, Vol. 8: Kimono DragonsY: The Last Man, Vol. 8: Kimono Dragons by Brian K. Vaughan
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Now, we’re getting somewhere.

Yorick & Crew arrive in Tokyo. They’re being stalked by Toyota, a ninja assassin. They go to confront Dr. Mann’s mother, a Japanese scientist.

There’s a lot of action in this volume, and that makes it a lot of fun. The depiction of Japan is a little stereotypical, though, with the ladies all fawning over a Japanese android man who’s programmed to tell them things like, “you look beautiful when you cry.”

There are also some important revelations in this volume, and Vaughan does a great job of maximizing the drama.

This volume is a fun, gripping read, and gets the series back on track.

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Cannonball 48: Y: The Last Man, Volume VII: Paper Dolls by Brian K. Vaughan

Y: The Last Man, Vol. 7: Paper DollsY: The Last Man, Vol. 7: Paper Dolls by Brian K. Vaughan
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Another of the weaker volumes in the series, but this one at least moves the story along a bit.

In this volume, Yorick & Friends stop to refuel in Australia before continuing on to Japan in search of Ampersand. This allows Yorick the opportunity to search for his fiancee, Beth Deville, who was in Australia when he last communicated with her.

We also learn a little more about Agent 355’s history, which isn’t as compelling as it could be, in my opinion. It’s a pretty standard story of childhood trauma that eventually turned her into a hardened soul who could only be softened by the right people. Meh and meh.

This volume also sees Yorick’s existence revealed to the rest of the world. Ehhh, once again, it doesn’t do much to propel the story forward, and ultimately becomes more of a MacGuffin than anything else.

But since the series overall is so innovative, it’s easy to overlook a few less-than-great volumes.

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Cannonball 47: Y: The Last Man, Volume VI: Girl on Girl by Brian K. Vaughan

Y: The Last Man, Vol. 6: Girl on GirlY: The Last Man, Vol. 6: Girl on Girl by Brian K. Vaughan
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Girl on Girl was probably my least favorite volume in the series.

In this volume, Yorick & Co. cross the Pacific Ocean in their quest to recover Yorick’s monkey, Ampersand, who may hold the key to curing the plague that wiped out the “man” half of mankind.

There are some random subplots here, and Vaughan’s twists and turns in this volume are rather two-dimensional, which is a disappointment considering how artfully he was able to turn societal conventions on their heads in some of the earlier volumes of this series.

There are pirates and spies and I felt rather beat over the head with the whole idea of “Yorick can’t trust anyone,” and, yes, yes, I get it, he has to be careful. There’s also a whole lot of “fair is foul and foul is fair” — the ally turns out to be a villain but then turns out not to be as villainous as she was believed to be. I’d call that a spoiler, but it’s such a thin device that watching it unveiled leaves you with an overwhelming sense of “meh.”

This volume doesn’t do much to advance the series, but the worst volume of this series is still a sight better than the best volumes in some others, so it’s still worth reading.

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Cannonball 46: Y: The Last Man, Volume V: Ring of Truth by Brian K. Vaughan

Y: The Last Man, Vol. 5: Ring of TruthY: The Last Man, Vol. 5: Ring of Truth by Brian K. Vaughan
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Surprises. That’s what makes “Ring of Truth” such a great volume.

Yorick, in a fight with some members of a ruthless offshoot of the Culper Ring, loses the engagement ring he had planned to give to Beth. Soon thereafter, he begins developing symptoms of the plague that killed the rest of the men on Earth.

Agent 355 goes on a suicide mission to recover the ring and save Yorick.

This volume also sees the return of Yorick’s sister, Hero. The last time we saw her, she was part of a radical group called the Daughters of the Amazon, but she had since been rehabilitated — but Yorick and his friends don’t know this, yet.

We are also introduced to a new villain, a ninja assassin named Toyota, working for a mysterious “Dr. M.” We’re left to wonder whether she’s working for Dr. Mann’s mother… or if Mann herself is behind Toyota.

This is a solid volume with plenty of laughs to lighten the dark mood of the post-apocalyptic world portrayed in the series.

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Cannonball 45: Y: The Last Man, Volume IV: Safeword by Brian K. Vaughan

Y: The Last Man: Y - The Last Man Bd. 4. Offenbarungen: Bd 4Y: The Last Man: Y – The Last Man Bd. 4. Offenbarungen: Bd 4 by Brian K. Vaughan
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

“Safeword” introduces a new character: Agent 711, a retired Culper Ring agent who’s also a friend of 355’s. She helps Yorick to take a deeper look at the reasons behind his compulsive recklessness, and it’s not pretty.

This part of the series was a little… iffy for me, for a variety of reasons. While the conclusion sets up some important events later in the series, the means by which its done is unnecessarily extreme, in my opinion. But I guess it’s more entertaining to most people than a simple sit-down conversation, especially considering the graphic novel format.

There’s some nudity in this volume, and, as I am a total prude, that didn’t exactly boost my enjoyment of this volume. And, while I enjoyed the series overall, I do think that it’s a contradictory message from Vaughan that the vast majority of the women in this post-apocalyptic world have rockin’ bodies — did the fat ones get eaten early on? And were non-form-fitting clothes also destroyed by the plague? You’d think that, with no men to impress, you’d see a lot more women wearing sweats.

It’s just interesting to me that, a lot of the time, he seems to preach about the empowerment of women, but that he also objectifies them at every step. It’s like he knows that most of his readers are going to be young men. He sticks in a few finger-wags about how hard women have it, but then retains his readership by making all of his women total babes who are fighting to save (or possess) this ordinary schlub.

This was an important volume in the series, but not really my favorite.

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Cannonball 44: Y: The Last Man, Volume III: One Small Step by Brian K. Vaughan

Y: The Last Man, Vol. 3: One Small StepY: The Last Man, Vol. 3: One Small Step by Brian K. Vaughan
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

When we last left Yorick, we learned that, orbiting Earth in the international space station, there were three astronauts — two of whom were men. If these men are able to land safely on Earth, and are not affected by the plague, then Yorick will no longer be the last man on Earth, tripling humanity’s chances of survival on Planet Earth.

Yorick is also being pursued by a woman quickly shaping up to become his nemesis: the ruthless Alter Tse’elon. She has basically hijacked the Mossad in order to hunt Yorick down and return with him to Israel so that he can begin repopulating Earth there. Some of her underlings question her motivation, but still follow her orders.

There’s a sort of epilogue at the end of the book in which Yorick sees a play… about the last man on Earth. It’s another nice bit of meta, but, at this point, the dig in the ribs is a little annoying.

While it was still an excellent read and tons of fun, it was one of the weaker volumes of the series, in my opinion. It dragged just a tiny bit, and, as I mentioned, the meta references are getting a bit cheesy.

But it’s still a ton of fun.

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Cannonball 43: Y: The Last Man, Volume II: Cycles by Brian K. Vaughan

Y: The Last Man, Vol. 2: CyclesY: The Last Man, Vol. 2: Cycles by Brian K. Vaughan
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The tale of Yorick Brown, the last man on earth, continues with Yorick’s trek across America to help Dr. Mann get back to her lab in San Francisco and find out how Yorick and Ampersand survived the plague. Along the way, they meet a town of women that live in a virtual utopia compared to the rest of the nation. Of course they’ve got a secret they’re trying to hide.

In each of these volumes, Vaughan brings up some interesting points. Dr. Mann points out that, the longer this plague goes on, the more species are becoming extinct. Day flies have a life span of one day. Since they’ve already gone more than a day without any males to mate with, the entire species is already gone. Other animals with short life spans are also extinct. He really thought through the world he created with a lot of attention to detail. It’s admirable.

Yorick, Ampersand, 355, and Dr. Mann also run into a group of radicals: the Daughters of the Amazon, who believe that the plague was nature’s way of getting rid of the weaker male half of the species. This group is trying to hunt down and kill Yorick in order to wipe out the males completely. But one of their number is conflicted about pursuing him, for very personal reasons.

It’s hard to review these volumes on their own, especially as they’re all kind of blurring together in my memory. This is a credit to Vaughan’s ability to maintain the flow of his story, and to keep the reader captivated.

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Cannonball 42: Y: The Last Man, Volume I: Unmanned by Brian K. Vaughan

Y: The Last Man, Vol. 1: UnmannedY: The Last Man, Vol. 1: Unmanned by Brian K. Vaughan
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Brian K. Vaughan’s graphic novel Y: The Last Man is smart, funny, and raises some interesting questions. It’s one of the best graphic novels I’ve ever read.

Yorick Brown is a former English major and amateur escape artist In an attempt at altruism, he’s taken in a Capuchin trainer monkey. He’s about to propose to his girlfriend, Beth, who’s out exploring the Australian Outback, when the world gets turned upside-down. All the men of Earth suddenly die — all at the same time. Planes are suddenly unpiloted, freeways become death traps, and half of the world’s doctors and emergency personnel aren’t around to respond. Even male animals have died off. The world is plunged into chaos.

For some reason, Yorick and his monkey, Ampersand, have been spared. Yorick doesn’t know why, but he has a single-minded mission: to find Beth.

Volume 1, “Unmanned,” does a great job of setting up the story and introducing us to most of the major characters. We meet Yorick, Ampersand, and Beth. We meet Yorick’s mother, a Congresswoman, and his sister, Hero. We meet Agent 355, a member of the top-secret Culper Ring, who is tasked by the new President to protect Yorick. We meet Dr. Allison Mann, who thinks she may have caused the plague by playing God. And we meet Alter Tse’elon, a soldier in the Israeli army that ultimately becomes Yorick’s nemesis.

“Unmanned” paints an interesting picture of a manless post-apocalyptic world. He does a great job of fleshing out this world, addressing questions ranging from the Presidential line of succession to food shortages and surviving in anarchy. Vaughan also throws in some tongue-in-cheek meta references to how hard it is to put an English degree to good use in the real world, a theme I can personally identify with.

hillary clinton

For those who are curious, if the plague were to strike tomorrow, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton would become President. There are only five women in the current line of succession.

I’m going to try to review each volume on its own merit, but I also don’t think you can divorce each volume from the series as a whole. And, for what it’s worth, “Unmanned” is a great way to kick off the series.

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