Friday, May 23, 2008
'Last Man' Love
Because I am a girly girl and a geek, there is a fierce battle for my disposable income. I want the discount Michael Kors handbag and a big, fresh stack of comics every Wednesday. But because I'm a mom, I'm not exactly swimming in gold coins, ala Scrooge McDuck. This is where my childless and/or single male friends come in handy. They provide the best possible form of welfare: great CDs from underrated bands I don't have time to research, cult DVDs with generous borrow time, and all the comics my little hands can carry. It's like Christmas once a month.
I have to credit my friend K. with introducing me to some of the best comics I've ever read, stuff I probably wouldn't have gambled the cash on without a primer. One of them is "The Last Man," a fantastic story about the adventures of the last man on Earth. Yes, I am late to the party on this (as usual); sue me. But if you haven't heard of this series, let alone read it, get thee to the nearest bookstore. Writer Brian K. Vaughn delivers page after page of nail-biting drama, spot-on Gen X/Y humor, holy-crap-no-way plot twists and sex. Plus, there's a monkey. It's like a groundbreaking HBO series in print, with great illustrations.
The basics: Aimless twenty-something Yorick Brown is about to propose to his girlfriend over the phone when every other male on Earth — human or otherwise — drops dead from a mysterious plague. That is, every other male except Yorick's pet monkey, Ampersand. Once Yorick and Amp set out to find Yorick's girlfriend, Beth (who is in Australia), all hell breaks loose again and again. Things get really good when Yorick teams up with secret agent 355 and geneticist Dr. Mann, and they dodge a series of mercenaries, insane "Amazons" and pirates. Yes, pirates.
This world without men is not a nice place filled with quaint bistros, day spas and shoe emporiums. It is every bit as violent, creepy and batshit crazy as the one we inhabit now, except half the world is dead. Meanwhile, the absence of men has created all kinds of transportation, shipping and food supply problems. It would be tough to take if there weren't so many genuinely funny moments ("Bitch, I'm an Ivy League lesbian. Do you think I've never fenced before?"). Plus, the relationship between Yorick, 355 and Mann deepens as the journey goes on.
Can I get on my diversity soapbox for a minute? I love that 355 is a hardcore, smart black woman with dreadlocks. And that Dr. Mann is an Asian woman who changed her last name to Mann (as in Mann's Chinese Theatre) to piss off her scientist parents. The reader isn't beaten over the head with gratuitous plot points; the diversity is simply organic. You know, like in the real world.
As D.C. gears up for its 400th crisis, I can't help but wish titles like this got the recognition they deserved. The proposed film version could help with that, provided that it's done well. So go read it now, before Hollywood gives 'The Last Man' a bad name.