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GRAPHIC NOVEL REVIEW: Absolute Y: The Last Man Vol. 1



Story by: Brian K. Vaughan
Art by: Pia Guerra, Jose Marzan, Jr. and Paul Chadwick
Cover by: J.G. Jones and Massimo Carnevale (Slipcase cover)
4/ 5

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3 total ratings


To sum it all up..

NEW WORLD (DIS)ORDER Brian K. Vaughan, writer first and foremost, gives the comic world a few but excellent stories that can inspire, intrigue, infuriate, instigate, and invite comic and casual readers, old and new, jaded or neophytes. His works continue to gather critical and commercial successes as what we witness his current independent series, Saga, […]

Posted June 30, 2015 by




Brian K. Vaughan, writer first and foremost, gives the comic world a few but excellent stories that can inspire, intrigue, infuriate, instigate, and invite comic and casual readers, old and new, jaded or neophytes. His works continue to gather critical and commercial successes as what we witness his current independent series, Saga, is now enjoying. Now, DC Comics/Vertigo Comics unleash his first foray in the comic mainstream — ABSOLUTE Y: THE LAST MAN (Volume 1), the publication’s most high-end prestige deluxe hardcover edition!

Let’s see what this monster has to offer: the series first twenty issues (including featured independent artist and CONCRETE creator Paul Chadwick who drew the two-issue arc, Comedy and Tragedy), which comprised of five short stories, artist Pia Guerra’s Sketch Book, and only in this absolute edition, the original script (or a sort of “Director’s Cut”) of the premiere issue. It has more than five hundred pages, and Massimo Carnevale did the slipcase and case art as well. The paper used is not glossy which is good for Guerra’s illustrations are inappropriate to that kind of paper. Good thing that the thick and sturdy paper type is preferred that enhanced the artist’s minimalist artistic style and even makes this high-end edition long lasting in quality. This is a serious ABSOLUTE addition for both comic aficionados and true Vaughan fans alike. I personally commend DC/Vertigo of releasing this comic gem that is timely and relevant in the political and cultural atmosphere of the “political correctness”, the third wave “feminism”, and currently the so-called “social justice warriors”, including themes of LGBT’s and matriarchal.

Vaughan’s intentions are to explore the speculative possibilities/scenarios what if there is only one man left in the world. In the history of literary theme, this is not entirely novel, which gladly the writer never said so, but the first three chapters already read like a serious dystopian, apocalyptic science fiction genre that playfully blend with issues of feminism (from the tradition/conservative to the extreme types who are the bane of the series solo human male survivor, Yorick Brown), religion (if the majority of institutionalized religion are male-dominated, like the Pope, Cardinals, Bishops, monks, imams, etc. what happens if they all die?), politics (the United States of America has yet to be led by a female president and even a female Supreme Court Chief Justice, plus majority of the politicians are still males, but upon the elimination of the male-political domination, would the female counterpart step up?), and geopolitics and realpolitik (in other societies where matriarchy is now emerging, or if war is solely a “man” stuff). Vaughan’s script seems at first glance so ordinary but that lays the beauty of his superb literary craftsmanship. He knows his characters as if they are his children and each of them actually shines (or darkens) whenever the moment comes to them. The dialogues are the indicators of the level of intellectual sophistication and the average of the subjects involved that readers may later find themselves invested, if not either sympathized or irritated, to these intriguing and interesting players of the new status quo. This would be the hallmark of Vaughan in his later and current comic works, particularly independent, like Ex-Machina, Pride of Baghdad and of course, Saga.

The pacing of the arcs is, in most cases, well-placed to maintain and sustain the readers’ interest. If being the last man on earth is considered a greatest blessing to that fellow, think again! This series shows the exact opposite: hardcore female supremacy groups are hunting Yorick and his pet monkey Ampersand nonstop, an all-female Israeli-led government orders a black-ops to either kill him or retrieve him, and some shoddy organizations are tracking both of them, while the so-called femininity is put into the test while Yorick is caught literally in the middle. All these are evident while the protagonist searches the cure and his girlfriend 10,000 miles while facing the collapse of the global economy, the breakdown of the socio-cultural structures, the ensuing social chaos, and the questions he wants answers: Why he and his pet monkey are the sole male survivors?, How this “gendercide” originated?, Who created the “Y” chromosome killer?, Why the “Y” killer virus was unleashed?, and “Is there a cure at least for humanity’s survival?” Vaughan plays his story so well that this first volume alone is worth your time, money, and reading pleasure.

And let us not forget the other members of this great series, artists Pia Guerra, inker Jose Marzan Jr., and Paul Chadwick. One of the most commendable is J.G. Jones, who is the series overall illustrator for most of the series covers. Readers and comic art lovers would notice that his covers are littered with imageries and symbolisms, most interestingly that most of these have the ever present “Y” symbols if you look closely of his beautifully lush cover paintings. Guerra’s interior arts are shifted to minimalist or the classical proportional style that suits so well to her strength since the world in Y: The Last Man is now more than 99% women in many shapes and figures, warts and all. This is appropriate since Guerra is a woman with an excellent artistic deftness, truly making the series as her own as well. Marzan’s inks fill-up the remaining artistic collaborative efforts, but nonetheless he contribute the series’ success in that department for Vaughan’s scripts would never be fulfilled in emphasizing the tone of the characters’ respective emotions and the inks (and colors) bring the bleakness and occasional suspense of the protagonists’ twist-and-turn as well.

As often as the cases in Vertigo titles, this Absolute edition has plenty of mature or rather “disturbing” themes that may still raffle some feathers or unnerve some narrow-minded, myopic, and conservative types. Plus, sex and nudity have the share spotlights here. Moreover, there are neither introductions nor afterword by one of the creators to somehow give some thoughts or words about this series. In the Sketch Book section, it could have been great if the people behind this edition put more Guerra’s arts than the usual twenty or something pages that are just rough sketches of the characters. And lastly, unlike the previous Absolutes, there are no annotations made per issue or chapter that could shed some lights to this controversial piece of visual masterpiece.

Even so, ABSOLUTE Y: THE LAST MAN is another great service by DC Comics/Vertigo that hopefully continues beyond the premiere volume up to the last, “happy ending” issue.

Paul Ramos



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