- Books, Literature, and Writing
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.