We’ll Meet Again….

In Amanda’s follow-up post to her, “Ask me anything” post:

Karpad:

Why isn’t the Amanda reading Y the Last Man? the trades are out, it’s not like she can’t get it at her favorite local book store without even talking to a comic geek.

I have no idea what you’re talking about. This is no comment on your taste. I guarantee I should probably know.

I’ve been reading it. It’s addictive. And trashy. Basically, a plague (or something similar) wipes out everything on Earth with a male chromosome. Also, it seems to have given virtually all of the women–except for a few examples I’m not entirely sure how to take–Hollywood proportions, but that goes unremarked by the protagonists.

I’m too lazy to blog about it right now, though. Has anyone else read it? Wanna write a paragraph or two?

21 comments for “We’ll Meet Again….

  1. Sarah S
    September 15, 2006 at 3:04 pm

    I don’t have time to write about it, but it is currently one of my favorite series of all time. It is fun, thought provoking, sexual, sometimes fluffy, sometimes serious, but I always finish each graphic novel wanting MORE.

  2. nerdlet
    September 15, 2006 at 3:23 pm

    Yeah, I totally just whined about it over on pandagon, in response to karpad’s rec. Now to drag it across two blogs, here is my whine:

    The only self-identified feminists in the series are literal man-haters who risk their own lives to attempt to kill the sole remaining man left alive, because killing the sole remaining man alive is better than GIVING THE HUMAN RACE A CHANCE TO CONTINUE, and praise the plague that killed all the other men, all while mangling famous feminist quotations. That sorta destroyed any possible feminist credentials for me, but I still read, oh, the first 24 issues or so. Does it get better?

  3. September 15, 2006 at 4:13 pm

    I thought that *most* of the characters were self-identified feminists. Certainly Agent 355 and Dr. Mann don’t seem like they’d identify as *anti-feminists* to me.

    I thought that there was something more deeply sinister about the (very fringey, but fringes are dangerous in a time of calamity) Daughters of the Amazon, ie, supernatural. Like when Hero starts babbling about the Sacred Cave and the Dandelion League and all that and her weird dreams of Victoria.

    In general, the absence of men in this particular world has a fairly realistic outcome, which is that women both show strength and clear foibles. Governments don’t stop being governmental, once they’ve been put back together. Some women are able to build small utopias, free of patriarchy, but other women are happy to leap down the rabbit hole into crime and violence. Some women politick, while others get on with their lives. And so on and so forth.

  4. Sarah S
    September 15, 2006 at 4:20 pm

    I guess I never read the story about the Amazons that way at all. The Amazons are a fuction of Victoria being a bitter control freak. She’s not advocating any form of feminism, she is advocating a facade of the worst but most popular ideas about feminism (ever notice how none of those come from actual feminists, but from anti-feminists?) in an attempt to legitimize her authoritarian aspirations.

    Victoria manipulated a lot of very freaked out people into doing exactly what she wanted using a deadly trajedy to do so…. sound familiar at all? Her committment to feminism is about as deep as George W. Bush’s to Christianity or “traditional values”.

    Plus she was dead by like issue 11 or 12. And now it is on issue 49 I believe, and it has covered a lot of ground since then.

  5. September 15, 2006 at 4:24 pm

    Also the proportions, well, they’re at *least* Hollywood proportions. Comic books tend to be MUCH MORE EXAGGERATEDLY EXTREME than that. So this is more realistic drawing.

  6. nerdlet
    September 15, 2006 at 4:45 pm

    I thought that *most* of the characters were self-identified feminists. Certainly Agent 355 and Dr. Mann don’t seem like they’d identify as *anti-feminists* to me.

    The Daughters of the Amazons were the ones quoting feminist statements, as far as I remember, and telling the women in prison that it was likely most of them were there because of men, etc, etc. I could say the only characters who were visibly identified as feminists, or etc, because I don’t remember if anyone actually uses the word “feminist.” All it’d take would be a brief “yup, I self-identified as a feminist back when it was still relevant, and I don’t want to kill all men” type line from a few characters to show that the Amazons just snapped because they were unable to deal with the apocalypse and that they’re not, in fact, living out the Feminist Dream.

    Again, it’s been a while since I’ve read.

    Victoria manipulated a lot of very freaked out people into doing exactly what she wanted using a deadly trajedy to do so…. sound familiar at all? Her committment to feminism is about as deep as George W. Bush’s to Christianity or “traditional values”.

    She could’ve been intended in that vein, yeah. But a) the Amazons were the only ones talking about feminism up to the point that I read. And b) it’s hard not to take it as a critique of feminism if you don’t have a few characters who say “Oh, no, I thought of myself as a feminist back when that was relevant and I never really wanted to kill all men! In fact, I was quite rather ok with them being alive!” And c) Self-identified feminists who want to kill all men just don’t exist*, whereas self-identified Christians who use the image of Christianity to enhance their own power do. The few self-identified feminists I might call misandrists just want to live separately from men most of the time – at the very worst, one of them might shrug indifferently if most men died. Hell, the SCUM Manifesto heartily endorses that some men be kept alive.

    Plus his understanding of feminism sounded shallow in a “guy who took an intro Women’s Studies class, got really personally offended, and left” way, rather than in a nuanced “here’s someone using feminist thought shallowly for personal gain” way.

    Though not entirely – for example, the “you were all in jail because of men” statement actually ended up being *true,* and I’m not sure what to make of that.

    (Well, technically I do know what to make of it, since Vaughn does believe that men are morally-worse-in-the-present-day than women, but I’m not sure what it means that he’d have the Raving Feminazi be essentially correct about a lot of the stuff she’s saying.)

    *If anyone has proof otherwise, I’ll retract this, of course.

  7. piny
    September 15, 2006 at 4:53 pm

    What nerdlet said (see, I knew someone would write my blog entry for me).

    I’m really glad that fundamentalism–which is an apocalyptic philosophy anyway–is getting so much play. I’m really annoyed that the only prominent, destructive fundamentalists we’ve seen so far have been the Amazons. Where are the Serena Joys? What did they do with the apocalypse? Did they think all the men were raptured away or something? What gives?

  8. piny
    September 15, 2006 at 4:55 pm

    *If anyone has proof otherwise, I’ll retract this, of course.

    Everyone knows that Andrea Dworkin is on record as saying that all men should be castrated with rusty garden shears. Here, let me link to a couple of edited quotes on anti-feminist webpage as proof.

  9. September 15, 2006 at 5:17 pm

    Before I say anything, I want to ask: how far into the series should we talk about? I’ve read them all in comic form, but other people may only have read the graphic novels. Looking at that link, it looks like those stop at #42. Should I restrict my comments to the first 42 issues, then?

  10. piny
    September 15, 2006 at 5:58 pm

    Why don’t you just put spoiler warnings for those of us who haven’t gotten that far? I’m not sure it’s possible to write an analysis of the first few chapters of a book if you know what happens next.

  11. piny
    September 15, 2006 at 6:00 pm

    I mean, I know it would be possible, but it would probably be kind of strange.

  12. Cranefly
    September 15, 2006 at 7:03 pm

    piny: to answer your question about the right-wing fundamentalists, the answer is yes, they do crop up… later? (I’m not sure exactly how far you’ve read, and guessing at that is complicated by me reading them as collections 1-7 instead of issues 1-fortywhatever). Both nativist militia and obsessive Papist (that title being a more apt here than Roman Catholic, I think) varieties. The absence of Left-Behinders *is* distinctly odd.

    I read the Amazons as a problematic enemy, but I’m not sure that I could prove that interpretation. I certainly find them more interesting than some of the later antagonists.

    When I lend these books out, it’s always with a disclaimer: I think they’re trying to do something interesting, but I don’t know how well they’re succeeding.

  13. September 15, 2006 at 10:02 pm

    Maybe it’s past time I do another “Ask A Comics Geek” post? :)

    I think Brian writes female characters very well, both in this book and in his other work. Y THE LAST MAN features a wide variety of characters, some sympathetic and some not-so. Yorick (the male) can be a total bastard. So can the sympathetic women. In other words, they’re written like human beings, with all their faults and fiobles, and that’s what makes the adventure interesting. I find the faux-lesbianism (i.e., some characters suddenly wanting a roll in the hay with each other for no good plot reason) a bit contrived, but overall it’s an enjoyable series. And Pia Guerra gets to show off her art talents, and Jose Marzan’s got steady work that I’m sure will keep him going to Disney World for many years to come. (I’m rather envious actually, inking Pia is an assignment I wouldn’t mind my husband to have!)

  14. September 16, 2006 at 12:06 am

    Where are the Serena Joys? What did they do with the apocalypse? Did they think all the men were raptured away or something? What gives?

    They’re there. As someone mentioned, there’s some Catholic stuff that goes down. And there *were* the Republican wives. And there were the militia. And the air traffic controller who believed it was the Rapture, and men had been raptured away leaving women in the tribulations. And so on.

    I think it’s obvious that Victoria was a cynical manipulator. *Yes*, she uses some feminist rhetoric—how could she not? But note how she uses food to control the masses. And there’s something creepily supernatural about them, I still think.

    None of the characters, including the Amazons, really say the word “feminist” much. But many of the women do appear to espouse the concept to varying degrees, including challenging Yorick on some of his occasional assumptions.

  15. September 16, 2006 at 2:37 am

    I’m not sure why this is a big deal. Men have been writing this sort of feminist-slamming “women take over, world becomes totalitarian and full of evil bitches who occasionally get naked with each other” science fiction for decades.

    Maybe part of it is that women weren’t the designated audience for 60s and 70s science fiction, and it’s not geared toward them, so they don’t read it much.

    Probably the most egregious example I can think of offhand is Charles Eric Maine’s book “Alph,” which is about the last man on the planet. There have been at least half a dozen more that I’ve read (this sort of anti-feminist literature is of great interest to me, particularly in the science fiction field). I’m sure there are many others I haven’t read.

    What’s in this one to make it different?

  16. nerdlet
    September 16, 2006 at 3:40 am

    What’s in this one to make it different?

    Well, as people mentioned, he does write a variety of female characters well, and I don’t think he reduces them to stereotypes (several are archetypes, but that can be hard to avoid for anyone). He does address the manless world in ways that aren’t totally stereotypical – the wives of the Republican Congressmen are not passive cookie-bakers, they show up with shotguns to claim the seats of their husbands.

    Sometimes characters make statements that are seemingly gender-essentialist, and sometimes they’re later subverted. Sometimes they’re not. Sometimes he just puts words in the mouths of the female characters that I am just so frustrated at a man writing: women all still wear makeup and some wear full burqa, for example, because they Do It For Each Other. But sometimes said statements about makeup & burqa & etc are set up in a way where it seems that’s more about how hard it is to break social conditioning than anything about gender essentialism. I dunno.

    So he’s not totally cliche, but I don’t believe he’s as groundbreaking as he thinks he is.

  17. September 16, 2006 at 11:50 am

    No, he’s probably not as groundbreaking as he thinks he is, but he’s several shades better than, well, the sort of fiction that molly talks about. As nerdlet says, sometimes he subverts, and sometimes he doesn’t. Sometimes Yorick says something stupid about women, and in several pages it is thrown in his face. Sometimes he says something, and it’s left as a joke.

  18. Justin K.
    September 17, 2006 at 2:23 pm

    In the movie Casino Royale (the 1969 version, not the one coming out soon) evil genius Woody Allen plans to release a virus that “will make all women beautiful and kill all men over 5’9””. I’m guessing that’s what caused the plague in Y The Last Man, they just made the man-killing part too strong.

  19. September 18, 2006 at 8:39 am

    A reverse scenario was portrayed in Frank Herbert’s (“Dune”) 1982 novel, The White Plague; in it, a driven-mad-from-heartbreak scientist unleashes revenge on the IRA (with unforeseen global consequences) by engineering a disease that kills all females after his wife and child perish in an terrorist bombing. A little draggy in parts, as Herbert is wont to be, but creepy and prescient nonetheless.

  20. Aussiesmurf
    September 19, 2006 at 1:40 am

    i have to admit, i love this series, and also wonder if anyone has read his political series Ex Machina? I still remember being shaken at the last page of the first issue…

  21. misfish
    September 19, 2006 at 3:49 am

    I find the faux-lesbianism (i.e., some characters suddenly wanting a roll in the hay with each other for no good plot reason) a bit contrived,

    Who else are they going to roll in the hay with?

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