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I recently read a comic book that really stuck with me. I found myself addicted to the story of Yorick Brown, the last male on an Earth now ruled by women. Y: The Last Man.
For some reason, many possible causes of this gender decimation are suggested – including a plague and Mother Nature seeking revenge – but none are confirmed. Everything carrying a Y chromosome (even animals, embryos and sperm) is wiped out at the same time. Political leaders the world over drop dead, planes fall from the sky, the roads are covered in car wrecks and food becomes scarce.
Yet Yorick and his male Capuchin monkey, Ampersand, appear to be the only to survive. Other writers may have chosen to make Yorick a macho individual, a representation of the ultimate male,but here Yorick is shown to be quite a sensitive, weak man of fairly average intelligence – a distinctively average man.
To hide his identity he wears a gas mask and cloak, making his voice more high-pitched so people think he’s a woman. He’s joined by Agent 355, a spy from a mysterious government agency who’s tasked with protecting him as he travels to Australia to find his girlfriend Beth. They also encounter Doctor Allison Man, an expert geneticist that had been working to create the first human clone before the plague, and is now fascinated with the mystery of how Yorick survived. The three develop a close friendship during their travels, working to protect each other throughout. They are hunted by various organisations who either want to capture (and presumably breed with) Yorick, or kill him so that there are no more men on Earth.
Not surprisingly in a world full of just women, many enter into lesbian relationships and it’s suggested that female-to-male transsexuals have become very popular. When the gang get to Japan it is revealed that a male robot has been ‘upgraded’ to offer a sexual service, being a big attraction in the country. Allison is revealed to be a lesbian, entering into many relationships with women throughout the series – at one point even getting it on with 355. She eventually enters into a relationship with the Australian spy Rose, who she impregnates with a clone of Yorick. Once in the series Yorick is discovered by a tabloid journalist, who takes a picture of him naked with a copy of a recent newspaper; while many people simply believe he is a transsexual, some realise that there is in fact one man left on Earth.
Unlike many interpretations of a world ruled by women, this isn’t a peaceful utopia. Women are shown to be just as power hungry as men. Alter is an Israeli general who finds herself in charge of the country’s army and believes the whole world to be her enemy, eventually waging war on Yorick when she finds out he’s the last man on the planet. It is eventually revealed that Alter suffers from survivor’s guilt, wanting to be killed by Yorick because as the last man on Earth she sees him as the only worthy adversary left.
Throughout all this there is also an extremist gang roaming America called Daughters of the Amazon, who believe that Mother Earth cleansed itself of the aberration of the Y chromosome. They burn down sperm-banks, vandalise ‘patriarchal symbols’ like churches and monuments, and murder male impersonators and trans men who they see as an affront to women. New members ritualistically remove one of their breasts as a rite of initiation. Their members are often women who have been negatively affected by men in their lives, such as rape victims, or those simply frightened or starving and wishing for the safety of a gang. Yorick’s sister, Hero, is revealed to have signed up with the Daughters. Past experiences with men cause her to be susceptible to the gang’s brainwashing.
The series overall is a very interesting interpretation of what the world would be like if it was ruled by women, while also exploring how women differ from men.