Since we’re talking about comic books…
Those of you whose lives don't involve a weekly update on what new comics have come out this Wednesday might not be familiar with Y The Last Man, a 60-issue comic book (10 volume graphic novel), whose much anticipated final issue just came out last month. The premise of Y The Last Man is that a mystery plague instantaneously wipes out every man and male mammal on planet Earth except for Yorick Brown, a 22 year old magician/slacker, and his capuchin monkey, Ampersand. Chaos ensues and Yorick, along with a mini-entourage of government bodyguard Agent 355 and super-geneticist Dr. Alison Mann, heads west across the decimated United States (and later the globe) to a) find out what caused the plague and b) look for Yorick's beloved girlfriend Beth, who was in Australia when the plague hit. You can begin to imagine what kind of craziness they find (and get themselves into) along the way.
"A comic book about a world populated entirely by women?" you say. "Cool!" So, it is and it isn't. I mean, it is cool, but the main character is still a man, which is sort of funny in a world full of women. What this comic highlights is all the places that the world falls down because of enduring gender discrimination. There are few female pilots, so when the plague strikes, virtually all airplanes fall from the skies; with only 16% of congressional seats held by women, there is a void in government; with virtually no female plumbers, electricians, or construction workers, the entire national infrastructure begins to fall apart.
The societies that fare best in these semi-apocalyptic times are those in which women already hold the most positions of power - notably the Israeli military, which had the highest ranking female officers in the world. Alter, the primary Jewess of Y the Last Man, and her comrade/nemesis Sadie (who becomes a judge) are totally fierce, though ultimately Alter comes off as a semi-psycho with a death wish. On the other hand, how often do Jewish women (aside from Kitty Pryde of the X-Men) appear in comic books? Making an appearance in one of the largest and most successful comics to have been drawn by a woman (the amazing Pia Guerra) is exciting, and to me a logical next step in the long tradition of Jews and comics.
To read more about feminism and comic books, check out When Fangirls Attack.
How to cite this page
Rabinoff-Goldman, Lily. "Since we’re talking about comic books…." 1 August 2008. Jewish Women's Archive. (Viewed on December 22, 2014) <http://jwa.org/blog/y-the-last-man>.