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Peeing in Your Shower: Y the Great Epic

Written by Keb Ellis on Tuesday, August 05 2008 and posted in Features
(Massive spoilers for those who haven’t read the entire Y: the Last Man series…) There was a period of time between when I finished volume 9 and started volume ten of Y: the Last Man that I like to call a “the quiet before storm.” It’s not so much quiet but anticipation followed by [...]


intense emotion that came with reading the last piece of a series that I loved so much. I found myself feeling very connected to Yorick, being an English major, a romantic and a bit of an idiot. While that may be why I enjoyed the series, I found after finishing, there was more that pulled me in.

There’s a way that Brian K. Vaughn crafts the series similarly to the great epic the Odyssey that really strikes a chord when finishing the series. It’s a lot easier to see when you read the series from start to finish, and there isn’t much quite like it out there in terms of graphic storytelling. It’s quite simple to describe: Man finds himself escaping from the clutches of slavery and journeying to his “home”, the place where the love of his life is.

Just a bit of an honest side-note: I’ve never actually read Homer’s epic or any direct translations, just prose interpretations and I’ve also seen the episode of Wishbone that re-enacts the Odyssey.

It’s all there and it’s not hard to understand. While Yorick doesn’t necessarily escape from “slavery”, he leaves behind any kind of duty he might have as the last “man of the world” to find his lover Beth. Granted, Vaughn throws in not one, but many monkey wrenches like the women Yorick meets and falls in love with (the biggest one being Agent 355), but the most interesting aspect of the journey itself is the way it’s presented.

Maybe it was all a marketing move, but being someone who read the entire series in paperback format, I found waiting for trades very long and sometimes frustrating. It was pretty beneficial though, because even if the series is read in single format, there is still an issue of pacing and release that helped build the anticipation, the “quiet” if you will. The last issue is probably the most emotional because you know deep down it has to end, and you don’t want it to end, but it’ll end anyway and all you can do is accept it.

The last issue is fabulous, and I wouldn’t have expected less from Vaughn because I know he’s a really smart guy. As I read it, after being all gut-wrenched and emotional, I started to think about it. It kind of clued in later…

There’s a poem by Alfred Lord Tennyson titled Ulysses  (which is Latin for “Odysseus”), which is spoken by Odysseus after he’s returned from his Odyssey and is back in Ithaca. The poem basically goes over his desire to get out and have another adventure, and how he can leave his kingdom to his son.

I found the exact same thing happening with the last issue of Y: the Last Man. I can’t say Vaughn based that issue on this poem, but it’s pretty darn close and I really enjoyed that. When the original Yorick, old and crotchety, leaves his confinement in Paris, while his daughter Beth does…whatever it is she does…Yorick is much happier to escape and wander around the world. It concludes with Yorick’s straightjacket flying away in the wind, much like the sails of Odysseus’ ship as he sets sail away from Ithaca and to his new adventure.

I found this little bit heartwarming, and the perfect end to a series I was very attached to. The character structures, the wonderful pacing and the long adventure separates Y: the Last Man from the superhero serials we all love, and really makes it the one of the greatest epics of graphic storytelling.


Posted originally: 2008-08-05 12:48:40

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