Yeah, I know. It's been a while. And this being the internet you sort of expected me to slink off and let the feature die, like a prom baby in a dumpster. That ain't how it's happening, though, and we're back for the third installment of this club, discussing Y The Last Man Volume 3 - One Small Step.
One thing I think we can all say is that chivalry should be dead in the post-man world. It's a little frustrating to find out that the male astronauts died in the fire, as it keeps us from getting a better understanding of just what caused the death of all the men. Was it a momentary thing? Is it a virus? Was it magic? Is Yorick immune in a specific, special way?
Brian K Vaughan's script for this arc tackles head on the idea of what it takes to make change in the world, and it reminds me of Margaret Mead's great quote:
“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed, citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”
Alter is the old way of thinking, and Yorick and Sadie are able to defeat her by breaking the cycles that Alter desperately seeks to perpetuate. There's a lot of Iraq War commentary in here, with Alter looking to create a false enemy to keep things strong at home. I appreciate that Yorick attempts to end the situation with as little violence as possible.
I also appreciate that Vaughan doesn't go for the cheap and easy downbeat ending. While the two other men are dead, there's hope in the form of a pregnancy. On top of that, he pulls back from killing Natalya - her death would have been really easy and would have meant nothing. There's a sense of palpable relief when she makes it, though. While the finale of the arc has a heaviness to it, Vaughan never gives in to faux-gravitas by going for something morose and nihilistic.
He saves some of that for the next arc, Comedy & Tragedy. I didn't like this arc the first time I read through the series, but this time I absolutely love it; I love the insight it gives into the state of the world, I love the way it highlights arguments between women as to what is properly feminist, and I love that it's funny. Vaughan never backs down from examining what feminism means, even if he's doing it in a very heightened world. On the extreme end he has the Daughters of the Amazon, but Comedy & Tragedy has a more nuanced examination. The women of the town just want their soap operas to finish - a cliche about housewives that, like many cliches, has a bit of truth about it. It's also an examination of the struggle between the artist and the audience, as the Fish and Bicycles Theater wants to put on important shows, while the townsfolk just want to forget about the horrors around them for a little while.
In the end the troupe stumbles on a truth that Yorick isn't fond of, that the very existance of a last man is keeping the women of the world from moving on. There's a sour taste at the end of the story, and you have to wonder how this impacts Yorick from here on out.
We'll find out in two weeks! Yes, I'm getting this bad boy back on a schedule, so please join us again in two weeks to discuss Volume 4, Safe Word. If you're reading individual issues or other collections, that's issues 18-23. In the meantime:
- Is hope in a hopeless situation actually cruelty?
- What do you think about Yorick's mom giving him up?
- What's the deal with Yorick and Agent 355?
- What do you think would have happened had the male astronauts made it out of the escape pod?
Discuss away below!