Stephen King says Y: the Last Man is the best comic book he has ever read. That knowledge alone should go a long way in describing why you should be interested in a movie adaptation of this comic book. Of course, BOP’s stated position is that you should read the graphic novels for yourself in order to make the same determination. The good news if you undertake such an endeavor is that the entirety of the series is now available in this form. Y: the Last Man had a 60 issue run as a limited series, meaning that the entirety of its existence could be read in just a few days if you are so inclined. And you should be so inclined.
Y: the Last Man tells an unlikely story of a either a dystopia or a utopia depending on your perspective. One seemingly random day, all of mankind dies. Anyone born with a penis drops dead on the spot save for one young man, Yorick Brown. A mediocre magician with a pet monkey, Yorick is exactly the sort of slacker 20-something whose immaturity drives parents to distraction. In this case, Yorick’s parent is one of Ohio’s congressmen in the House of Representatives, Jennifer Brown. This position of honor becomes particularly important upon the death of everyone with a Y chromosome, as she becomes one of the highest ranking politicians in Washington, D.C. Little does she realize that one of the hot button issues of her time in office will be the continued existence of her son, the proverbial last man on Earth.
Once Yorick determines that he is the only man in his area, he embarks on a two-fold quest. The first and primary goal is to locate Beth Deville, his girlfriend who is an anthropologist working on assignment in Australia (note that early versions of the screenplay have changed her vocation to medical researcher). His other goal is to find other men still alive since he hopes to find a more worthy example of the specimen than himself, the onus of being the only remaining potential sperm donor being unwelcome. Yorick’s journey is complicated by the fact that some women like the idea of not having any men around. In fact, a militant group called Daughters of the Amazon believes that Mother Earth has intentionally cleansed itself of the Y chromosome. Sure, that sounds crazy but just because Art Bell is dead in this world of women doesn’t mean that 51% of his psycho listeners are not still coming up with nutty new ideas on their own.
Further complicating Yorick’s attempt to reunite with Beth is the fact that he has become a pawn in a much larger political game. Rumors of his continued existence have reached other parts of the world. Particularly interested is new chief of the general staff of Israel Alter Tse’elon. Fearful that the new world order has done nothing to assuage anti-Semitic ill will throughout the world, Alter is motivated to claim the world’s last man for her country. The worst part of this matter for Yorick is that Alter is, well, crazy. Once put on trial for court martial in her native country, the woman convinced her soldiers to rebel by assassinating the judge. She is not the type of person anyone wants stalking them.
The good news for Yorick – if there is good news to be had in this new world order – is that he has an equal of Alter on his side. Agent 355, a member of the secretive Culper Ring, has been tasked by new president of the United States Margaret Valentine to acquire the world’s most important asset, Yorick Brown. Along with Doctor Allison Mann, the world’s penultimate expert on genetics, Yorick and 355 attempt to unearth the mystery of why all the men in the world randomly began to bleed from the ears, eyes, nose and mouth one fateful day. And the truth to this mystery might lie within the odd DNA structure of the other known male in existence, Yorick’s pet monkey, Ampersand. Or it could all be one gigantic fluke, a Macguffin of such an epic level that it would make Hitchcock blush with envy.
Y: the Last Man offers the sort of serial storytelling that hearkens back to the halcyon days of yore. Planned episodic content had not been done this well in the comic book medium since at least Sandman if not Watchmen. As such, many people believe that the best format for its adaptation is a limited television series. New Line Cinema disagreed with this assessment prior to being absorbed by Warner Bros. Eyeing the title as a potential franchise, the studio acquired the film rights a few years ago.
After the success of 2007’s Disturbia, its director/writer team of D.J. Caruso and Carl Ellsworth was signed to perform the same duties on an adaptation of Y. There has been talk of a reunion with the third key player in Disturbia, Shia LaBeouf, but his taking on the role of Yorick Brown is only a rumor to this point. Independent of who is cast in the film, Y the Last Man is epic in scale and affords the possibility of being one of the most successful comic book adaptations of its year of release. (David Mumpower/BOP)