Comics for college: Y: The Last Man

Looking for something to read this semester that can serve as a break from assigned texts? Something that can also offer a new perspective on topics in class? The place to look is comic books.

The “funny pages” are not just for kids, and they are not just staid action stories. The best comics, superhero or otherwise, offer a commentary on society. A great example of this is Brian K. Vaughan and Pia Guerra’s multiple award-winning comic book series Y: The Last Man.

The series revolves around a simple premise: What would happen if all the males in the world, human or otherwise, suddenly died? After a plague kills off every male mammal, society is left broken. Almost all governments are wiped out, armies obliterated and male cultural heroes like The Rolling Stones gone. The only male survivors are Yorick Brown and his pet monkey, Ampersand.

The series is both a drama exploring Yorick’s trials in the world and an examination of society. Alongside Guerra’s detailed, expressive art, Vaughan’s scripts offer something for tastes — and all college majors

Studying society and government? Check out how countries try to restructure when many of the politicians are dead. Gender studies majors might be interested to see the rise of an ultra-feminist movement that comes out of the elimination of all Y-chromosome-bearing creatures. Those studying theater or English will appreciate that Yorick and his family are named after Shakespearian characters, and that Vaughan drops in a number of references to the Bard’s work.

So if class-assigned reading has taken its toll and a good book is all you seek, give Y: The Last Man a shot. You might also be seeing it on a big screen soon, too; New Line Cinema acquired the series rights in 2007, and the project is currently in development. Director D.J. Caruso (of Disturbia fame) is loosely attached to the project.