Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Insert Shakespeare joke about Yorick Part 2

In my last post, I talked about Y The Last Man, a comic book series by Brian K Vaughn and Pia Guerra about the last man on Earth, but not the last human. The series ran to 60 issues before coming to an end. Today.

I will have to stop and say SPOILERS(!) for the final issue here.

The main thrust of the plot has ended. After telling each other that they are in love, 355 and Yorick hug and she whispers her real name in his ear. Alter, the main antagonist of the series, shoots 355 with a sniper rifle. She dies and it is heartbreaking. Alter and Yorick have their confrontation which does not end the way one would expect. Yorick has grown up and become a man of honour, as Beth told him when they were reunited.

So now we come to issue 60. Bring your tissues, people, because I didn't and I was caught unawares at this. I sniffled.

It's 60 years later and the world is running decently smooth. The daughter of Yorick and Beth 2 has become president of France, I guess, and she requests that the seventeenth clone of Yorick, now at age 22, go and speak to the formerly last man, now an old man of 85. It seems that Yorick has been rather melancholy and tried to off himself. Most of the issues alternates between the conversation between Yorick and Yorick 17 and flashbacks that fill in the missing years. The issue ties up a lot of loose ends from the series, such as Alison Mann, Rose, Beth, Hero, Natalya and some others, including the death of Ampersand in one of the greatest scenes in comic book history.

But mostly, it's the story of the last man, and how he's reflecting on his life. He and Yorick 17 are in a dark room surrounded by imperfect clones of Ampersand (imperfect because they behave so well). At the end of their talk, the monkeys all jump on Yorick 17 and when he gets them off, he sees that Yorick has jumped from the window... finally offing himself as he wanted to do.

In the two final scenes, we flash back to probably the moment that Yorick and 355 started falling in love when they first started out on their journey. It's a nice little scene. The very last moment of the issue finds Yorick 17 admitting that he took his eyes off of Yorick for a moment. The president Beth wonders if he killed himself.

Yorick 17 says no. He escaped.

What a perfect f*%$ing ending. I almost don't know what to say. It's been like an hour since I read the damn thing, and my mind keeps going back to it. If I had to be an a$$hole about it, and compare it to other endings, it's certainly similar in format to the finale to Six Feet Under, one of my favourite shows ever. Y The Last Man doesn't have the same level of emotional punch in the face as Six Feet Under. The story of the last man does has a more concrete ending than The Sopranos.... In terms of comic books, it's a much more satisfying ending than Sandman. It's on par with the ending of Preacher, which will be a future blogpost, I will prognosticate.

Y The Last Man ended without any disappointments and was very emotionally satisfying. BKV and Guerra have created a very believable universe and have populated it with a huge cast of living breathing humans. See, kids, comics don't have to be about guys in capes punching each other in the face.

Oh, and another reason why this is a great series is in the penultimate issue. In Russia, on the Trans-Siberian, 355 and Yorick take on some armed goons. They frisk Yorick and find a lighter that says "F*%$ Communism" but the actual word. The lighter, of course, is a reference to the magnificent Vertigo series by the name of Preacher, by Garth Ennis and Steve Dillon. When the Russians find the lighter, Yorick says, "Heh. It's from a comic". It's a great knowing reference and a good character moment - we know Yorick reads Preacher. AND SO SHOULD YOU.

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