The first time I was informed of this comic, I was in Newbury Comics and my friend Matt who worked there said “I’ve been reading this comic about the last man on Earth and it’s just him and his monkey who is always throwing shit at him”. This is only a somewhat accurate description. I didn’t think anything of it, and didn’t read a single issue of it until I bought one of those books Vertigo published that includes the first issue of multiple series in hopes of attracting more readers. After actually giving the comic a chance, I will say that out of all the comic books I have read, it has one of the absolute best first issues of anything ever, and to this day continues to be one of my all-time favorite series.
This story is complete fiction. Most women threaten to kill themselves if I stay alive, rather than kill themselves because I’m dead.
To try to summarize what happens in a 60 issue series would be absolutely ridiculous. Nor will I try to summarize the events of the story as told through each volume of trade paperback, because there are ten of those. In the very first issue, we find out that Yorick Brown is just out of college, a failing escape artist/illusionist (anything but “magician”) and his girlfriend is studying Anthropology in Australia. In an attempt to do something with his life, he takes on the challenge of training a helper monkey to prove to his girlfriend that he can be responsible. As he is about to propose to her with a ring he bought at a local magic shop, the phone disconnects and every mammal with a Y chromosome on the planet dies…except for him and his monkey, named Ampersand.
It’s like all the guys on the world starting getting their periods out of their heads.
Just because I said I couldn’t summarize everything that happens, doesn’t mean I won’t give you some idea of what takes place, without ruining anything. Yorick’s mother was involved in politics, so he leaves New York City to go to Washington, D.C. to check on his mother and father. Seeing as how so many industries, whether it be the electric company, transit authority, airlines, etc., were male dominated fields, this is harder said than done. This world is now a no man’s land, literally and figuratively. Seeing as people don’t know why the “gendercide” happened, Yorick is able to wear a gas mask and pretend he’s a woman who thinks it’s a disease. There are people who claim it was religious in nature, a terrorist attack, or even a plot by our own government. One group that forms is called “Daughters of the Amazon” who believe that the Earth cleansed itself of the patriarchy of the world and they embrace what is going on, looting and murdering anyone who disagrees with this message. Upon arrival in D.C., Yorick’s mother first tries to keep him locked in a safe-house to make sure the only living male is protected. After much discussion, it is determined that he should seek out Dr. Allison Mann, the leading researcher when it comes to human cloning. Aided by his escort, who only goes by the name Agent 355, they head to Boston in hopes of finding her. Shortly after he leaves, Yorick’s sister, Hero, arrives in Washington, as she has now crudely removed her left breast, as that is a crucial part of being initiated into the Daughters of the Amazon.
There are quite a few moments involving dramatic standoffs involving guns. This is one of them.
And that’s where I am going to leave out the details. It’s really interesting to see the way the writer, Brian K. Vaughan, discusses how no men existing anymore would play out, and does so from both sides of the spectrum. He discusses how in popular culture there weren’t as many rock bands or as many action movies, but also discusses how there are less violent crimes like rape and domestic violence. He also talks about the politics by pointing out that if all the men died, the head of agriculture would be promoted to president. Obviously that’s a slight exaggeration, but the federal government is another male dominated area. There is also a storyline involving a women’s prison releasing all of their inmates, and they move to a community where they have food, water, electricity, all of the necessities. Yorick actually freaks out and accuses them of being terrible people because of their crimes, but the women go on to discuss how being in prison showed them they really don’t need men at all, and they are more than capable to take over every responsibility that men previously dominated. There is also a comparison to the fact that these things happened during World War II as well.
The juveniles reading this probably think this is some sort of masturbation reference, but he is actually just trying to set baldy up for a high-five.
Another interesting discussion that is raised is the fact that being the last man on Earth makes you the most, and only, eligible bachelor. Sure, Yorick could have boned every girl he saw and claim that it was for the good of the species, but he doesn’t. This might have something to do with the fact that the only woman he wants to be with is in Australia and he is trying to make his way there, but I also think that Vaughan didn’t want to take the easy way out of this one. It is harder to write about a character who doesn’t do what others do and take the less obvious route. This isn’t to say that Yorick isn’t faced with some tough moral decisions, and he is only human, but still, I was glad to see it wasn’t the fantasy most guys would imagine it to be. Which I commend Yorick for, because he seems to find himself balls-deep in attractive comic book ladies who want to jump his bones.
This is the cover of the final issue. Ha! Take that! Spoiler alert my ass! There is totally a cover on the last issue that implies…things!
I am not going to touch on the ending and the answers you get about the gendercide, but I think you will be surprised. I mentioned before, but this is one of my favorite comic book series of all time, right up there next to Preacher. Out of the whole 60 issues, there were maybe four issues that aren’t all that exciting. Not even saying they are bad, but just a few that don’t directly relate to the main characters, and four out of 60 really isn’t all that bad. The first 55 issues are some of the most entertaining, engaging, and thought-provoking comics I have read. The last five issues are all of that, as well as containing some of the most emotionally powerful things I have read, specifically issue 60. This book is fun when it needs to be fun, serious when it needs to be serious, and I really can’t recommend it enough.
Wolfman Moon Scale