Since the alphabet is the building block of our language, the Powet Alphabet is the building block of what makes us geeks.

[Disclaimer – This article was written after reading the first three volumes of the series with no knowledge of what happens in the story thereafter.]

Y The Last Man is not only a concise description of the story following Yorick, the last man on Earth, but also a question. Why the last man on Earth? The stage is set in the first issue with a series of events leading up to the ‘plague’, as it is sometimes referred to in the book. Everywhere around the world at that moment in time, every male of every species on the planet died. Except, of course, for Yorick and his pet monkey, Ampersand.

Once the story was laid out in the first issue, we follow Yorick on his way to Washington D.C. to find his mother, who is serving as a United States Representative in Congress. Eventually, Yorick is sent to find a cloning expert by the newly sworn-in female President, the former Secretary of Agriculture. A secretive government agent is sent with him to see him through on his quest. As Yorick’s journey continues, the main cast of characters expands from just Yorick and Agent 355 to also include the cloning expert, Dr. Mann (punny, no?), each believing that the gendercide was their fault for various reasons. Running into unforseen circumstances, they are forced to travel across the country from Boston to California. The circumstances in question, overall, are not nearly as important as the opportunity this conveniently provided the writer to explore the ramifications of a post-male America. What happens in industries dominated by males? Here is an excerpt from a recap to help paint the picture:

In the summer of 2002, a plague of unknown origin destroyed every last sperm, fetus, and fully developed mammal with a Y chromosome – with the apparent exception of one young man and his pet, a male Capuchin monkey.

This “gendercide” instantaneously exterminated 48% of the global population, or approximately 2.9 billion men. 495 of the Fortune 500 CEOs are now dead, as are 99% of the world’s landowners.

In the United States alone, more than 95% of all commercial pilots, truck drivers, and ship captains died… as did 92% of all violent felons. Internationally, 99% of all mechanics, electricians, and construction workers are now deceased… though 51% of the world’s agriculatural labor force is still alive.

14 nations, including Spain and Germany, have women soldiers who have served in ground combat units. None of the United States’ nearly 200,000 female troops have ever participated in ground combat. Australia, Norway and Sweden are the only countries that have women serving on board submarines.

In Israel, all women between the ages of 18 and 26 have performed compulsory military service in the Israeli Defense Force for at least one year and nine months. Before the plague, at least three Palestinian suicide bombers had been women.

Worldwide, 85% of all government representatives are now dead… as are 100% of Catholic priests, Muslim imams, and Orthodox Jewish rabbis.

Still alive, however, is Yorick Brown, the last man on Earth.

Think about that for a few minutes. Imagine the scale of what is being described here and let it sink in. Between each volume I have read thus far, I did not pick up the next for about a week’s time to let it all soak in my mind. The subject matter is heavy, but fortunately for us Yorick happens to be a pretty amusing guy. He was an aspiring magician and escape artist before the plague and that skill set has come in handy on numerous occasions since the plague. Also providing some levity, is the excellent dialogue the writer has provided to the characters, from witty retorts to pop culture references, one can feel that these are tangible people with unique personalities.

The United States government is not the only group seeking Yorick either. Other groups including the Israeli military and the extreme feminist group called the Amazons are also in hot pursuit. The Israelis are seeking the preservation of their country’s continued well-being while being led by an unknown source of information, while the Amazons, who saw the plague as destiny, seek to finish the job the plague could not quite complete.

Y The Last Man was a story written by Brian K. Vaughan with art from Pia Guerra. It was published under the Vertigo imprint of DC Comics and ran for 60 issues. It is now available in trade paperback form in a ten volume set.