Another project has been completed; this one I haven’t gotten to writing about as quickly, nor will I write as much on it. But here it is, my thoughts on the brilliant 60-issue run of Y: The Last Man.

The reason I’ll only be writing a few paragraphs on Y is because 1. I think it’d be hard for me to do so without spoilers, and more importantly, 2. Spiffy already covered the run rather beautifullyin his post on the bookAs much as I loved Y, and that’s a whole lot, I think Spiff might have loved it even more. So I won’t even try to write something as long and as well thought out as what he wrote, though I will ask if, after a month and half, he ever plans to give us another edition of his “5 Comics I Love.” 😉

So, to Y. Um…it’s good. So good that “good” is a pathetic word to use to try to describe it. It grabs you quickly and never lets go. The very first issue, even though you know exactly what will happen, hits you like a sledgehammer. From there, it morphs into some vague blend of an adventure epic, a drama of mystery, a series of complex character studies, and a suspense thriller. Author Brian K. Vaughan moves in and out of these various roles that the book plays with a fluidity and grace you will rarely see in comics.

Vaughan builds the suspense quite well throughout the series, knowing just the right times to pick up the pace and when to have downtime (though in this book, downtime is a relative term). Throughout it all, though, he keeps a consistent passage of time that I think really helps the book. This may have been the first comic I read that keeps up with real time, as exactly five years pass in the story over the book’s 60 monthly issues.

I should mention, briefly, that I read the first 30 issues as they came out, and Y was the first Vertigo title I ever bought. I’ll be honest, a big part of the initial attraction was that I was a horny teenager who thought the book would be primarily about lesbians (it isn’t). Obviously, I was hooked by the storytelling instead once I tried it. Then I quit comics and missed the second half of the run. I tried to make buying everything I missed a priority once I started reading again, but it was hard to find a good deal on the trades. Finally, a friend who downloads like crazy told me that his ultra-secret, ultra-secure dl site had comics on it, and I coaxed him into getting Y for me. I still plan to buy hard copies someday when I have the money, but for now, i just wanted to see how it all ends (especially after Spiffy’s post). I’d already reread my 30 issues earlier in the summer, and I plowed through the final 30 in just under 24 hours (not exaggerating).

As good as the first half of the series was (amazing), the second half was even better (amazinger?). The source of everything that’s happened is revealed, and every character has a defining moment. The book has its own heartbeat as every passing issue feels like a quickening pulse leading up to the final story. Issues 57-59 were perhaps the most intense reads of my life. The one thing I’ll say is that I’m still not entirely sure how I feel about the final issue, but that’ll have to be saved for a spoiler-filled discussion with Spiffy someday.

But while the drama and mystery were powerful elements of Y, Vaughan’s most potent weapon was always his characterization. He built layered characters, fully developed them into immediately relatable yet quintessentially unique individuals. They’re heroic yet flawed, larger than life yet imminently believable. The so-called “villains” of the book (though I think you could make the case that there are no real villains, only victims of circumstance) have depths and complexities that stay your hand from immediate hatred, even as you despise their action. And of course, at the center of it all, there’s Yorick, a character worthy of the Shakespearian tragedy from which he takes his name.

And with Shakespeare on the mind, I think it’s time I take my cue from Polonius and, since “brevity is the soul of wit,” end here my discussion of the hauntingly beautiful Y: The Last Man. Like dearest Polonius, i’ve already said more than I originally set out to. I will, however, offer a brief update on other projects:

Project: Sandman has been delayed indefinitely. I had bought 8 of the 10 trades of Neil Gaiman’s infamous masterpiece on eBay, but sadly, they never arrived, lost in the black hole of unknowable shipping errors. I’m getting a full refund on the purchase, so to some extent, it’s no harm no foul, but with school expenses bearing down, I can’t justify to myself turning around and spending that money on comics again. This one is going to happen, but it might take a couple months now.

Project: Swamp Thing, on the other hand, is in full swing and going wonderfully. I bought all 46 issues of Alan Moore’s acclaimed run (voted the fifth-best ever by Comics Should Be Good), and I’m not quite halfway through. With luck, I’ll finish up and write a post on that before school starts.

Project: Mysterious is what I’m going to use as a temporary codename for the final two projects I alluded to but gave no information on in my “Upcoming Projects” post. For those who don’t remember, I had two secret projects that I was going to finish everything off with, and they would be the biggest event in blog history (for however much that’s even saying). I would have liked to have done Mysterious before school started, but I doubt it now. I don’t necessarily have a particular order I want all these Projects to go in, but I would prefer if this one were last, since I want to go out with a bang, so I might hold up until after Sandman and maybe even Starman (who knows when that’ll be).


4 Responses to “PROJECT: Y”

  1. spiffyithaca Says:

    Very good post. I agree wholeheartedly. I definitely look forward to talking to you about the final issue, because I think we share some of the same issues, because like you, I don’t know how it sits with me.

    I can’t wait for your Swamp Thing project and your mysery one’s intrigue the hell out of me. GIVE ME MORE.

    I’ll try and get to doing one more this week, but I can’t promise anything. Work saps my energy at night.

  2. davidry214 Says:

    I only have six issues of Swamp Thing left, so I’ll be done reading soon. I might try to write it over the weekend, or at least early next week.

    Project: Mysterious will blow your mind once I finally reveal it, but it may be months from now. So try to keep your mind unblown in the meantime.

  3. PROJECTS return; suggestions welcome « Goki’s Giving Groin Says:

    […] There have been three installments so far, all of which deserve your attention: PROJECT: FABLES, PROJECT: Y, and PROJECT: SWAMP THING. They’re long, especially the first one, but they’re also […]

  4. Our Favorite Comics of the Decade « Eat More Comics Says:

    […] […]

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