What I felt about the ending to Y: Last Man

WARNING: CONTAINS SPOILERS

So I'm going to do something a little different here. Because it's taken me several years to finish "Y: The Last Man," because it's fairly well-known, and because i don't remember all the fine points of the story, I figured I'd just explain how I felt about the various elements of the conclusion of this 10 volume Vertigo series.

Looking back on it, "Y: The Last Man" was an excellent comic book, really exploring what a world totally without men (except for our intrepid hero Yorick, his monkey Ampersand, and Doctor Matsumori, of course) would actually look like: society shattered as some of the most competent people in the military, government, law enforcement, and the like all died. It also showed that, as time went on, society re-established itself, not necessarily the same as it was pre-death of everything with a Y-chromosome, but developing into something functional. There were plenty of interesting characters and situations our heroes encountered in their cross-the-world trek to figure out what caused the Gendercide and re-unite Yorick with Beth, and I really liked the picaresque quality of the story. Although, as I'll get into later on, the ending wasn't totally satisfactory to me, I also liked how, unlike some other Vertigo picaresque stories I could name (*cough* American Virgin*cough*), "Y: The Last Man" didn't end by giving us the proverbial finger, allowing for maximum closure and minimum WTFery and Diabolus Ex Machina (minimal, but not completely absent, sad to say). Therefore, without further ado, I will break down various elements of the ending of the series (coming mostly from volumes 9 and 10) and say what I think.

The reveal of the cause of the Gendercide; one of the things I liked the most about the beginning of the series was that it deliberately set it up so that the Gendercide could have been caused by any of several causes. Declaring it to be one, definite, cause was kind of a let down. This may also have been because the explanation--Doctor Matsumori clones the first person, and psychic vibrations kill all the men--makes little to no sense logically. However, something about the way it was presented made it logical within the confines of the story itself, so it wasn't that bad an ending.

Rose and Allison's parting from the rest of the group: this worked well, with all of them behaving like real people would: sad and sorry to see people go, but glad to have experienced everything with each other. Allison's partings with Yorick and 355 are particularly touching.

Getting to see what the Fish & Bicycle girls and Waverly have been up to: this was a nice little treat. I especially liked seeing Waverly again, a character I had almost forgotten about, but it was nice to see that she had worked her way up in the world, so to speak. The comic book the Fish & Bicycle girls produce at the end of their story was hilarious, particularly in context. I also could swear that Bobbi had appeared before, but I couldn't but my finger as to where. It would have been nice to see other minor characters again (they can't all have been killed off by Alter or joined up with the Beth 2/Hero group going to France, could they?), but what we got was good.

Yorick and 355's final fate: This was a mixed bag. The relationship between these two was sort of the underlying relationship of the whole story (despite the objective being Beth). And it was wonderful to have a payoff like it did: surprisingly understated, but still emotionally affecting. 355 telling Yorick her name (even though we never hear it) was a wonderful symbol of the two letting down the final barriers between them. It was a truly touching moment, one well earned over 10 volumes.

....Which made 355 getting shot immediately afterward all the more offensive. It was so random, so stupid, and so seemingly mean-spirited on the behalf of Brian K. Vaughn that it was perhaps the most infuriating twist in the whole series. Why did it have to happen? Alter had already well crossed over the Moral Event Horizon, and it made all of the other times that 355 had been badly injured and managed to recover just seem cheap. This was perhaps the part I liked least about the conclusion to 'Y."

Beth and Yorick's fate: I don't really understand the two of them breaking up because Beth was going to dump Yorick 5 years ago. As Beth said, things have changed again, and now she wants him. I get that it allows Yorick and 355 to have their closure, and if 355 hadn't been so randomly killed off, this might have even been OK (Yorick discovering that the one he wanted was the one walking beside him, not the object of his quest, as he puts it). But I don't get why, after 355 dies, he never goes back to Beth-- he does love her, and she does love him. Having him end up with Beth 2 (and having Beth end up with Hero) just seems totally random and arbitrary-- as if Brian K. Vaughn just threw darts at the wall to decide Yorick would end up with.

Alter's fate: this I quite liked, actually. The revelation that she, like Yorick, was subconsciously suicidal and that she did all of the things she did just so that she could die at Yorick's hands made total sense for her character and was a fine ending point for her character arc. The fact that Yorick very much does not kill her just makes her defeat as a villain all the more delicious.

The epilogue: I liked most of this. Seeing Yorick visit his former companions after the main story was over was nice, seeing how they all got on, was a nice bit of closure. I particularly liked Yorick visiting Rose and Allison, even though he's too late to get there before Allison dies. The little bit where Yorick and 355 talk about death was nice as well. I also like how society has ended up 60 years after the story has concluded-males so rare the male pronouns are dying out, but cloning technology getting good enough that society is starting to see the reintroduction of the Y chromosome to the world. The older Yorick was nice-- kind of bitter and sarcastic, but with his life I don't blame him. His final escape was a nice way to end the series as well, really summing up all the themes of "Y: the Last Man" in one solitary shot of his straight jacket floating in the air.

But there were some WTF moments as well. Beth Jr. as the President of France? hunh? Why exactly has Russia re-instituted a czar? (Although it being Vladimir fits well enough). And why and how does Ampersand die? He appears to have been poisoned, but they don't really explain how or why.

All in all, the ending of "Y: The Last Man" was mostly OK, with some outstandingly good bits, but a bit of a letdown in some places. Then again, it was more about the journey rather than the destination, and I loved this journey so very much. I'm sure I'll read through this series again in the future--and love it just as much (if not more) than when I went through it originally. A great series, all in all. 

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Comments 17 comments

galakhtus10 6 years ago

Ampersand was dying of natural cause. In that episode you can see that Yorick is old and so is his monkey. The reason Ampersand had been poisoned is beacause Yorick wanted his pet to die quickly and without pain.

About czar in Russia... well, you know, you've got to be russian to understand. It's the mentality. Russia was always ruled by monarchs. In didn't change very much with 20th century. Both Lenin and Stalin's regime resembles the monarchy. Afterwards, the cult of Lenin and Stalin was meant to replace christianity in the USSR. Not much has changed until now. Putin has been elected twice as a president and now he is the prime minister and unoficially still rules the country.

The real "WTF moment" in the epilogue was the very ending. Did Yourick stay alive? Or "the escape" is a metaphor and the scene with Yorick talkin with three-fifty about death is really Yorick in umm... "heaven"? Hence the last panel on that page.


Depressed 5 years ago

Just finished this series today, and it has one of the most depressing endings I've ever had the misfortune of reading.

I loved Yorick and 355. I loved them so fucking much. And then BVK had to go and sucker punch me in the face with that "twist". The whole series I was yearning for 355 and Yorick to get together and when I thought I'd finally have it, that cheap, pathetic death happens... I hate it.

Then the epilogue was mostly shit. Yorick as a bald guy, then a crazy old man, a shit ton of flashbacks, and a WTF ambiguous ending. What's most depressing is that flashback with Mann and 355, when they're talking about death. 355 saying that she hopes death is the final stage, no after-life, no nothing. Basically saying, even in death Yorick and 355 will never be together. Wow, you might as well just spit in my freshly punched face. The series was so humorous and uplifting (despite the mass death) and that ending... It ruined everything for me.

Sorry for ranting, just pretty emotional right now.


Simon James 5 years ago

Davidlev, you said in your original post that you liked the initial "not knowing" of exactly what the cause of the plague was, and Matsumori's crap reason spoiled that for you. Well that's just his opinion - we don't know if that's the real cause of the plague, but personally, that and Yorick's immunity was the main mystery in the series, and I was desperate to find out what it was. The reason for Yorick's immunity was crap and they never explicitly explained the plague. This was unsatisfying. I didn't mind the end being tragic with the death of 355 but it felt too instant, and should have been fleshed out a lot more. The most unsatisfying thing though was the last sequence - what the hell happens to Yorick??? ARGHHHH. Such a great series but such an unsatisfying end - to recommend or not? Hmmmm


Chris 4 years ago

You saw Bobbi at the train station - she gives Yorick advice about his beard.


cameron 4 years ago

loved the story, hated the ending. It's as if BKV didn't know what to do but needed to wrap it up fast. One thing I really don't like, is that half of the dialogue was the characters saying random facts that you can tell are just little things the writer wanted to throw in there to look cool because he knew them. And never a need to show an animal dying. ever. it can be implied, but if there is one thing an audience doesn't like it's seeing a main animal character die. any animal for that matter. not to be such a sap, but i feel like that's just writing 101. also way too much mystery left unexplained. it BS to say that you meant to leave the reason for the plague unanswered. I mean c'mon, somebody must have just got done reading the walking dead. gimme a break BKV, u had something going then you flopped.


Chi 4 years ago

Sorry, but you guys sound like such babies :p I was as heartbroken as anyone at the "unhappy" ending. I wanted Yorick and 355 to live happily ever after. I wanted Amp to live forever. But pets get sick and die. Lovers get shot and die. In the real world and certainly in the world BKV created. Admittedly, I am a cynical girl, but this all seemed inevitable to me...

As for Beth, she was never really The One. Rick realised that, he realised that he loved someone else, and going back to his ex after that revelation would just be a regression. It would be like turning his back on everything he learned about himself and their relationship...

That being said, I hated Beth 2. LOVED that Rick was only with her out of obligation (baby mama, remember?)...

So basically I liked the ending :) I did not enjoy it. It was painful. But I appreciated it.


DC 4 years ago

I was fine with the ending - impressed that the writers had the balls to kill off 355, satisfied with how Yorick dealt with Beth, all that. Thought it was a good way to go out. Ampersand's death absolutely destroyed me though, it was so subtle and touching. God, I loved that little monkey.


Ingrid 3 years ago

It was depressing for me to see Agent 355 die. I would have been more satisfied with them getting together and ending their journey in bliss. Both Yorick and 355 deserved happiness after their journey. However, I suppose the ending goes with their lives. Can the last man on Earth truly be happy and satisfied? Agent 355 was an agent of a government organization. Live by the gun die by the gun. I suppose their happiness was in their journey. The time they spent with each other and growing with each other. I am glad they shared themselves, through 355 revealing her true name, but as a reader I was saddened by 355 quick death. I agree with you David! It made cheapened her other near death experiences. To be taken out by Alter's crazy ass! :-( She deserved a more honorable death then that.


Jorik... no seriously! 2 years ago

I thought the end was awesome! A REAL ending, not a happy go lucky ending. It tied up all the lose ends but left just a little bit of mystery for the story to stay with you.

The depressing side of the ending doesn't mind me that much because it lets the reader feel something about death and the impermanence of life and all that stuff. I really teared up at the part where ampersand died....

After 355's death I felt they could not make a good ending to the story...

But if you really think about the ending, what it all means for the characters... it's really a sad, but happy ending. everyone ended up with what they wanted:

- dr Man ended up with the love of her life and her work completed.

- Beth and Hero ended up together pretty happy.

- 355 became a person again in stead of a number/soldier, she confessed her love to Yorick, and she didn't have an afterlife (she wanted no afterlife).

- Ampersand grew old with Yorick and had a long life.

- Beth two had her child grow up with Yorick as a dad.

The only person who doesn't have a "happy" ending is yorick. He's still the last real non cloned man on earth, he has seen all of his friends die and seen his one true love die.... BUT!

now he has someone to take his place. and yorick didn't try to take his own life... it was just a joke he said... he isn't insane but he does have some serious emotional scars. but also good life memories as he explains to his clone, that his life began after the clone's age (meaning he started living from then on).

and even if he is an emotionally battered and bruised old bald guy.... he can still do what he does best... he can escape!

even from himself... even if it is a clone...


Richard 2 years ago

I was (and I'm still) an atheist, I never really get the heaven/hell/god kind of thing, but after reading this comic book, I finally understand what heaven, at lest first, was about: would to goddamm sad think that 355 and Yorick would never see each other again, or that he would never find happyness in his life; even if that was true. Was the only time in my life that I wished those things actually exist.. Not in our world, that's far more complex, but just for then, just for Yorick and the whole crew, just so I wouldn't be with such a "pain in the hearth". It's amazing how they (the writer, designer, ..) can touch anyones life, give then tears, smiles, sadness, and a whole pot of feelings just with pen, paper, and a few pictures. Anyway, enough bullshit, was the best graphic novel I ever read! Congrats!


Jamila 2 years ago

Hated the ending! I honestly knew they were going to kill her off in the beginning. I didn't want to read the comic because of that. My husband talked me into it and told me to keep the faith. We read the comics as they were coming out... over a year... only to have him sucker punch all of the fans. After all they'd been through, after their transformation and understanding of how they really felt about each other... there was no peace for them. After watching Yorick sleep with numerous other women and pine for Beth, while 355 soldiered on... it was an ending that was a slap in the face. It honestly felt like 355 did not receive respect in life or in her death.

I also hate how people say that endings are "real" when someone dies. Honestly, death and murder don't make anything more "real" than having someone live and say and/or hear the words, "I love you".


Kabrio 2 years ago

Here's what I took from the ending:

if you have your enemies at a disadvantage, crush them (specially if they are special forces officers). No need to give second chances, empathy, or even justice, to those that fight dirty and are as driven and dangerous as Alter was.


Bojanglez 23 months ago

Loved the ending but the scene with Amp brought tears to my eyes. Have had too many awesome pets put to sleep for that not to tug at my heartstrings - that last moment when the light goes out of their eyes and you know it's necessary but hate yourself for doing it. Bah. Crying just thinking about it. Loved that comic book. Thank you, BKV.


Taranwanderer profile image

Taranwanderer 13 months ago

I haven't read it yet, but maybe now is the right time.


Bre 9 months ago

Actually the cause of the plague is explained by alter in issue 59. The cause was the culper ring releasing a virus that was supposed to prevent women in China from having more boys but something went horribly wrong. Vaughn even announced in an interview that this is the official cause of the plague.


Lauralai 5 months ago

I’m going to give my thoughts even though this page was published years ago. I just finished reading Y and, damn, I’m devastated! I loved it, but the ending crushed me.

Not only did it hurt losing 355, Ampersand and Dr. Mann, it also sucked seeing Yorick as this lonely, old man. I guess this affected me as I suffer with depression and identified with Yorick during his destructive, pre-intervention days. Perhaps it would have been too Hollywood, but I wanted him to have a happy ending with 355. Happy endings give me hope that things will get better. Anyway... they are currently developing this as a show for FX, so maybe that will have a better finale - though I did like Yorick's final escape act.

I absolutely loved the comic, but I am confused on one thing: After 60 years, we see Paris is thriving with women but there are less than 20 men on earth due to continued complications with the virus. We know Allison's father was successful in creating female clones, so I'm guessing Allison sent the, uh, "clone recipe" out into the world so people could make their own humans? It's hard for me to wrap my head around this as I imagine very few women would know about or have access to the resources for this.

Also, does anyone think Yorick had any children besides Beth Jr? I know he didn't love Beth 2 but he did stay with her for awhile and could've had more daughters.


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LukasMaks1347 37 hours ago

Lauralai, I really don't think Yorick would have ever truly considered having any more children with anyone, period. He was in a marriage with Beth 2 so that their daughter could have two parents in her life, but he was never truly in love with her as he was with Beth DeVille (before the plague) and Agent 355 by the journey's end (and then she was taken away from him permanently). Considering how little action he got throughout the course of the series even when opportunities obviously presented themselves for procreating, I doubt that he would have had sex with anyone after something as traumatic as losing Agent 355. I mean, sure, he cheated on Beth #1 with Beth #2, but there were several factors at play. At that point in the story, he had killed a girl and felt terrible for doing so (and was probably questioning his entire moral compass), and just before that, he had endured a suicide intervention in which the epiphany that showed for whom or for what he wanted to live was Agent 355, and not Beth DeVille. Now I don't know about everyone else, but if I saw a different woman in a romantic dream than the one that I had sworn to marry, I would be very confused and would probably stay in denial for awhile, as Yorick did when he tried to "hold on" to Beth by having sex with a woman who shared her name. Yorick knocked her up because he was in emotional turmoil and was not quite sure who he wanted to be with. After the events of issue #59, he knew who he wanted, but she was gone (hell, even if she had lived, she was infertile by this point due to the injuries sustained from killing Toyota, so if they decided to raise more kids than just co-parenting with Beth #2, they would have had to adopt or get a surrogate mother). So Yorick was pretty much doomed to just take care of Beth, Jr.

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