An end of the world that only affects men is a tricky subject, but ‘Y: The Last Man’ finds a way to tell it
‘Y: The Last Man’ became in a short time one of the great successes of DC’s prestigious Vertigo line, which saw the birth of characters such as ‘Sandman’ or ‘Hellblazer’, and that for a time he published the best of the independent-but-assimilable-comic-by-the-majority-public from the United States. The secret of this series was in a post-apocalyptic approach with a very juicy hook in its concept: what if the end of the world meant the death of all men (except the protagonist)?
Fast forward just a year to another groundbreaking comic about the collapse of civilization, ‘The Walking Dead,’ ‘Y: The Last Man’ used that starting point, paradoxically, to talk … about men. The only characters that were literally dead (save one). The Brian K. Vaughan and cartoonist Pia Guerra series was as fast-paced and fun as you could expect, but in more than one aspect his proposal has become somewhat outdated.
The original comic manages to make the protagonist’s journey the core of the action, and all the women you meet (literally the rest of the world!) base their actions and emotions on a loser that, unwittingly, is capable of making lesbians consider stuff. I insist: ‘Y: The Last Man’ is not a bad comic, but there are things that make more sense to tell them from another point of view.
In the FX series now premiering Disney +, the narrative is completely updated, and the logical decision is made: tell the stories of the surviving women with whom the protagonist is going to meet, so that they become rich mutually. In that sense, the series works perfectly due to the good eye of the person in charge of the scripts, Eliza Clark, working with an all-female team. The result is not a radically feminist product, but it does serve to bring to the table how the original was misogynistic in a somewhat perverse sense.
Same story, different points of view
Those looking for the good-natured, very carefree post-apocalyptic adventure of ‘Y: The Last Man’ here, they will find a slower pace, deeper characters, but an equally powerful concept. Only here, by paying more attention to the female characters, the protagonist is portrayed in his devastating vanity (the discussion with his girlfriend in the first chapter is pure male ego embarrassment -and very funny-) and many of the characters of the original comic see how their interest for the viewer is catapulted.
The clearest case is that of the secret agent 355, who here sees how her supermission to the James Bond of the comics boils down to a much more mundane and treacherous scheme with a bomb and white supremacists. With this start, not only do we have a more accurate portrait of his personality, but we also better understand to what extent he becomes a ghost when the only two people who knew of his existence (his boss and the president) die.
It is clear that a series that takes the preambles so calmly is not going to find its audience overnight. The first episodes that have reached Disney + seem only the starting point of the story, and it is true that the sections that develop around the senator who becomes president de facto and that she is the mother of a juicy pair of losers, sometimes they are somewhat delinquent and slow down the rhythm.
The start of the series, however, is promising. The change of tone and the focus on women is much more appropriate than in the comic, which at times seems like a work with the same plot, but with a diametrically opposite point of view. If when the apocalypse begins the stories of Yorick, the last man, and Agent 355 are reinforced, ‘Y: The Last Man’ can become a powerful story of survival and science fiction