Not Even if You Were the Last Guy on Earth
In my last post I focused on John Layman and Rob Guillory’s “Chew”. I can’t put enough praise on that book, and I’m proud to say I made it through that whole recommendation without using a single food pun. The next book I want to talk about is Brian K Vaughn’s “Y: The Last Man”.
Unlike “Chew”, “Y: The Last Man” has completed its run, meaning you can read the whole story from start to finish right now. I love ongoing comics, but sometimes you can’t wait a month or four between issues, especially if you’re reading Vaughn’s current comic, “Saga”.
Like “Chew”, “Y: The Last Man” is another comic that does not focus on a superhero. The protagonist of “Y” is Yorick Brown, a would be escape artist. Yorick is thrust into a world of chaos when every other man on earth drops dead in an instant. As Yorick tries to make his way in a world without men, he is joined on his adventures by the mysterious Agent 335, the cloning expert, Dr. Allison Man, and his monkey, Ampersand.
The 60 issues that follow detail Yorick’s adventure through the brave new world. Unlike “Chew”, this is not really a lighthearted story at all. Sure there are occasional moments of humor, but Brian K Vaughn’s book is really trying to imagine what a world without men would look like. In a lot of ways, this type of alternate reality makes this book similar to Robert Kirkman’s “The Walking Dead”. Both books are fundamentally about how humans react when the previous rules of the world disappear. Like “The Walking Dead”, “Y: The Last Man” does get violent, but its never violence for the sake of violence like the work of Garth Ennis, instead violence occurs, and there are consequences. This aspect of realistic violence separates “Y” further from the typical superhero book where no one ever really dies.
Thus when characters are killed off in this story the reader can really feel the emotional weight of the action because outside of the premise there isn’t much that separates the world of “Y” from our own. “Y” is a great read that is also extremely accessible. So much so that one many wonder why it hasn’t been turned into a movie yet?
Like “Chew” and adaptation of “Y” has been in the works for years, but as of yet nothing has moved further than negotiations. I think part of the reason for the delayed production of this property is because it wouldn’t really work as a single film. Despite studios love of franchises, “Y” would still be a huge risk for most production companies. As I stated, Yorick is the only man left on earth, meaning that the cast would be primarily female. Now I don’t see this as an issue at all, in fact this aspect of the film could really let the movie stand out amongst the landscape of the male dominated medium. However, the apprehensions of the studio executives are wide spread. How many comic book movies have there been with a woman lead?
I don’t think its fair to put all of the blame on the atrocious “Catwoman” or “Electra”, but those films certainly didn’t help to change the industry’s mind, and most people haven’t seen “Ghost World” nor know it was a comic.In the end comic book movies are all about money, and the basic assumption is that people that like comic book movies are male nerds that are afraid of women. I do believe this perception is changing as nerdom works its way into the mainstream, but when millions of dollars are invested, studios want to make sure they make their money back. Hopefully the release of “Wonder Woman” movie in 2017 will allow studios to believe in a comic book adaptations that star women.