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This article is part of a series of spotlight articles on the winners of the Broken Frontier Awards 2005.

You know what they say about the cream of the crop in any field: getting to the top isn’t the hardest part, but staying there is. With the completion of Ring of Truth (#30-31), and the Girl on Girl (#32-36) and Paper Dolls (#37-39) story arcs spanning all but one of the 2005 issues, that’s exactly what Y-The Last Man did.

Month after month, series co-creators Brian K. Vaughan and Pia Guerra take you on a ride that is so thrilling that it makes you wish comics contained 64 pages instead of 32. Then again, doubling the page count probably wouldn’t be enough to fill your need. It just goes to show exactly how good this Vertigo series is. 

BF has already praised Y-The Last Man several times over the past couple of weeks, but hasn’t pointed out why it deserves our award for the best mature book for a second time in as many years, beating out our other three worthy nominees (100 Bullets, Desolation Jones and True Story Swear To God) in the process. Simply put, the series is a smorgasbord of suspense, mystery and humor. While I’m sure every devoted reader of the series can sum up more than a handful of reasons faster than you can “monkey shit”, I’ll list my favorite three:

Using humor for shock value
Ever since the first issue, we’ve been led to believe that Yorick, as the sole male human to survive the plague, must somehow be unique. Yet, in issue #30, we learn that Vaughan has been playing us for fools all this time when Yorick says: “Feculence? You mean, the reason I’m the last man on earth is because I ate monkey shit?” It’s hilarious but shocking moments like this one—and a dumb-ass Yorick getting stripped from his clothes and being photographed by a tabloid reporter in issue #37—that prove to be the best way to keep readers on the edge of their seats.

What plague?!
Remember how the main draw of the book supposedly used to be finding out what the heck made all but two male beings on earth bite the dust? Well, in 2005, discovering the cause of the plague was placed on the back-burner in favor of characterisation. And it didn’t hurt the series a single moment. As Girl on Girl showed, the story can still go strong when the focus is on Doctor Mann and Agent 355. Allowing Yorick’s companions to step forward not only adds more depth to the overall story, it is probably another of Vaughan’s clever tricks at the same time. Knowing that Y is scheduled to end around issue #60, the exploration of Yorick’s supporting cast allowed readers just enough breathing room, before the title pulls them back in as it’s hitting its stretch run.

No fanfare
The easiest aspect to overlook, but one that is arguably more important than all the plot elements and storytelling devices combined, is that Y-The Last Man is still going strong without much fanfare. There’s no need for full-page ads in Wizard or witty marketing tricks to make this book stay at the top of the game. This title is so strong and its following so devoted that nobody’s complaining when Goran Sudzuka fills in for Guerra for an entire arc. That says a lot about the quality of a book.

   

What else is there to say about this stellar Vertigo series? Nothing much, because four years into its run, everyone who hasn’t read Y-The Last Man by now is out of excuses. 

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