Y: The Last Man, a Review, a Drinking Game for Girls’ Night
2021 is shaping up to be a massive improvement over 2020 in many ways for most of us. I mean, statistically, it would have to, but it’s looking to be a superb year for the nerds out there. We’re getting another Dune adaptation, and, despite my trepidation at the thought of sharing a universe with 400 separate versions of the same story, I’m excited. Certainly, nerd-dom has waited long enough for a mostly-competent version of that story. Hey, guess what other nifty, long-awaited, beloved Nerd franchise is finally seeing the light of day after spending almost a decade in development hell? Y: The Last Man. For those of you unfamiliar, there may be spoilers from the books (I realize they’re technically graphic novels, but I think that name demeans them from their rightful literary status as insanely brilliant, slightly-insane books that rival, in some ways, Hemingway, or F. Scott Fitzgerald (okay, this series stomps both of those crusty white dead dudes into the dust, where they belong). Here’s the set-up: One day, every single male mammal on planet Earth dies. Men qualify under that subset, despite what some statements on divorce papers might claim, and, *Goosh* just like that, we’re all puddles of blood (literally — this is not a kid-friendly series, unless your kids are already aware of the amount of control my gender wields in society, also, the visual effects are disturbing, at times, as you would expect when half the population is dead in the streets. Well, all the males but two, a directionless young man named Yorrick (in the books, it’s mentioned that his father is an English Lit professor with an odd sense of humor), and his pet monkey, Ampersand (it’s a long story, but it’s not a euphemism, the main character has a pet monkey he’s training to be an aid animal for disabled people)(personal note: as a cripple, if anyone tries to give me a wild animal as some sort of personal help device, I will ensure that you’re the one who cleans up after the monkey). Young Yorrick is, by freak coincidence, the only son of newly-appointed Speaker of the House Jennifer Brown. Sort of, because the only woman in the chain of command is missing in Israel after her (dead, male) pilots crash her in the West bank. So, that would be the central conflict of the story, right? Learning how to restore a world without the patriarchy involved? Well, until that missing Secretary of Education (an obvious Betsy DeVos stand-in) comes to and demands to be confirmed as president, despite the numerous legal and logistical problems in her way (and significant pushback from the Brown Administration that any major management changes would disrupt the ongoing emergency rescue/repair efforts, not to mention the unfortunate fact that, miraculously, the only living male in the world is also the recognized president’s son (and his monkey). Why? is the obvious question, and the main characters’ attempts to find out why that is made up the bulk of the books, ultimately without any clear answers.
The drinking game is this: you get the squad together with your alcoholic beverage of choice (some women like whisky, some prefer beer, some prefer those awful wine coolers or flavored seltzers); make sure someone has read the series; you start drinking after you’ve watched the episode, and you drink every time they point out how many “Wow, that was clever” moments, especially when you have someone who can point out parts that diverge from the books. When you finish your drink, you get to watch the next episode. The game ends either when the series does, or when no one can remember which of the dozens of disparate plot lines there are in the series.
Obviously; I’m not a neutral party in this; I got my first copies at San Diego Comic Con in 2007, and it took me three years to read (mostly because that’s how long it took me to find them) so, my knowledge is a decade old. It was brilliant, challenging, and set out to answer the question of, “Do Men make the planet better (yes) or worse (also yes). The main character, Yorrick, and his bodyguard, Agent 355 have to navigate a post-apocalyptic America in a quest to make humanity reproductively viable, again (achieved, eventually, by perfecting human cloning, however, as science is still centuries from perfecting an artificial womb, that merely means men have fulfilled their biological role (on popular fan theory is that humanity developed a form of reproduction that no longer required men, making us obsolete, so Nature cut men out like a rotting tree stump. Eventually, when cloning is perfected and Yorrick has donated enough genetic samples to ensure the eventual continued survival of the species, he sets out, with 355, to find his long-lost fiancee, Beth, last seen roving Australia as an anthropologist studying Aboriginal tribes. Oh, and trying to reconstitute society along the way. Which is difficult when men have made themselves the unworthy center of so many global transportation/communication ventures and technologies (at one point, the White House staff literally scramble to find qualified still-living applicants who can operate and maintain the midwestern electrical grid.
The main conflict, ultimately, is between women who wish to recreate the traditional patriarchy with women in charge, and those who think that system died along with men, who were the only ones to really benefit, and their vision of a better future. Even though the ostensible main character is the titular character, Yorrick rarely exhibits any real agency, and is considered a geopolitical asset by most of his friends, enemies, and allies. It’s a fascinating discussion of the role and power of men in society, and how, ultimately, women will mostly be fine without us. I’d highly recommend it, but I’m hardly an unbiased source.