Brian K. Vaughan and Pia Guerra’s Y: The Last Man was the first comic book series I ever read, and I still haven’t found anything that I’ve fallen for quite as hard. I devoured it one summer while commuting to a minimum-wage job, roughly the same age that Yorick Brown is when a mysterious plague kills every human and animal on Earth with a Y chromosome except for him and his pet monkey, Ampersand. The cinematic style, the killer blend of pop culture and pathos, the ambitious worldbuilding envisioning a world without cisgender men—it’s a modern classic.
But simultaneously, it is very much a product of the early 2000s. Post-apocalyptic fiction hinging on a very binary sense of gender (mostly cis) rarely ages well, and Y has some cringing missteps even in the first few issues. Yet it’s still a landmark series that has (hopefully) offered a rich jumping-off point for the forthcoming TV adaptation, which premieres in September. Considering that a lot will likely change in the series—from grappling with the aforementioned gender issues from a 2021 perspective to adding in new characters—we’re going to revisit the comics, in all their imperfect glory, over the next several weeks.