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March 03, 2005



I've never tried "Y", although I always hear it mentioned around... I stuck with "Ex Machina" for a few issues though; I think I finally dropped it with #7. The first few chapters had some great potential, but there's only so much stilted political conversation and dodgy plotting I can handle before my breaking point...

Alex Freed

Regular Curmudgeons reader here...can't remember whether this is the first time I've posted at IANTB.

Y grates on me for reasons that are similar, I think, but not identical to your own. The quips, awkward dialog, and slow trickle of mysteries all grate, but my largest problem is with the characters themselves.

I've been pondering why I can't care about Y's characters for a while. At first, I thought it was because they weren't developed, but that's not really true. They don't have the most nuanced personalities, but they've got a little depth, at least. I then thought it was because they weren't developing or changing, but that's not completely fair, either. Yorick and 355 have both changed at least a little.

I eventually concluded that it's not a lack of development, but that the development is done in the most obvious way possible and is leading to obvious places. Yorick shoots a woman and feels guilty and bitter. 355 softens and gains a fondness for Yorick. Not intrinsically bad ideas, but there're no surprises anywhere. (Compare, for example, Yorick's reaction to killing an adversary to Dane's reaction to the same situation in THE INVISIBLES. Yorick is a nice guy who feels bad and occasionally gets angry. Dane's a bastard who, for the first time, confronts his destructive tendencies and questions the whole nature of the Invisibles, leading to memories of his magical training resurfacing. Which sounds more interesting?)

Oh--and I can't stand the ninja. You don't spend 2 years trying to convince me that this is a realistic post-apocalypse society and then bring in a ninja. It doesn't matter that she'll eventually be explained away in a self-aware, mocking fashion. The damage is done.

Alex Freed

But wait! I have more to say! (Sorry to spam; my browser wouldn't let me add more to the last post.)

I bring up INVISIBLES, Marc, because I've been rereading the whole series recently. (Some I'm reading for the first time...just filled in some back issue gaps.) In an attempt to find spoiler-free commentary and discussion, I've been going to old Usenet posts from when the issues were originally released. Been enjoying your (voluminous!) posts a great deal, and figured I'd thank you for them.

Dave Intermittent

I never tried Y either, and now I don't feel so bad. Though admittedly the mess that is Ex Machina more or lessed rid me of whatever guilt I carried over not trying Y. Even viewed as soap opera Ex Machina is incompetent, and the notion that it is a daring expose of local politics is laughable, as I've said at length before.

Robin Hermann

I say this not to sound superior or snotty, but weren't all of these flaws fairly noticeable back in the first arc?

That's the only one I own--a friend of mine whose taste I -once- trusted wouldn't shut up about Y so I bought the first trade, thinking: "Maybe Vaughan's gotten better since his SWAMP THING run...and maybe he's stopped relying on pop culture cliches in the place of actually writing a story."


The point where I -nearly- gave up on the story was when Yorick and some character I cared so little about that I don't remember her name started rolling off a list of all the bands they'd never hear again. And the whole time I thought: "What purpose does this serve? Is it worth devoting a whole page to? Is Vaughan just trying to score cool points? Surely he isn't that shallow?"

Then there's the end. So Hero's an amazon now? Quelle Surprise! Wait...the book is named "Y," and the characters are undecided about where to go, so let's end with a splash panel of a city street, in a "Y" shape! How meaningful! How symbolic!

I've never even -thought- about picking up the next trade.

Moreover, in all fairness to Warren Ellis, who has written some stupid comics (#6 of GLOBAL FREQUENCY, the last half of TRANSMET) they were never -this- stupid.


You're right, Rob. I could say that at the beginning of a series you can always tell yourself the creators are still finding their legs, but it shouldn't have taken thirty-one issues to determine this comic wasn't getting any better.

I wonder if I would have shared your reaction if I'd started reading it in trade paperback; once I've followed a comic for the five or six months it now takes to complete a storyline, habit and inertia become powerful allies. For a comic to bounce itself off my reading list, as Y has now done, requires exceptional merits in the field of crap.

By the way, I would rank anything after the first year of Transmetropolitan right up there with the stupidest "smart" comics ever produced.

Thanks for the kind words, Alex. I don't even remember what I said about The Invisibles anymore, so I'll just have to assume it was all spun gold. Lord, I'd love to be able to get into a monthly series like that again.

Tom Clancy

It gladdens my heart to see we've come so far as comic fans that there are now comic snobs. Taking one piece of the arc of Y as a synecdoche and then comparing the whole thing to Tango & Cash . . . that seems fair. Next time, can you remind me why my favorite band sucks too?

Greg Morrow

I'm with Robin. One trade was easily enough for me to see that Y was a really stupid Preacher-wannabe.

Dave Van Domelen

Tom, you don't have to be a snob to not like a comic. And poor Marc is too educated to just come out and say, "This suxx0rs!"

Besides, Y is not written for little kids. It's written for adults. Which means it's fair game for criticism of weak plotting and all the other sins laid at its feet. As much as I enjoy stuff that IS written for kids, when I'm reading something that aspires to being literature (as Y seems to be, from what I hear), it'd be nice for it to do more than aspire.

Kevin J. Maroney

The thing I find annoying about the recent arc of Y is that I think it genuinely was getting better for a while. Several of the arcs during the journey across America were quite good, surprisingly good. (I'm thinking particularly of the story about the women trying to reinvent drama in the wake of the disaster, but would also include the story about the astronauts and even the "Western" story about standoff at Widow's Pass.) But the current arc was obviously a disaster long before this month's issue; I don't think any part--even any scene--of the San Francisco story has been well-done.

I can't think of any meaningful way that Y is a "Preacher-wannabee", though, except in that both of them feature travelling and in both of them the journey is far more interesting than the arrival.

I think Vaughan's best work has been Runaways, probably because he's not trying to do something Big and Meaningful.


there was a ninja?

Greg Morrow


I identified Y as a Preacher wannabe for a couple of reasons (keep in mind I've only see the first trade): First, the art is really quite reminiscent of Steve Dillon's style. Second, the main character has authorial-fiat powers. (Not like Jesse's Voice of God powers, but the way that he's immune to the ordinary consequences of events because the author is looking out for him.) The sex and violence also suggested that the book was aimed squarely at Preacher's soon-vacant Vertigo niche.


Kevin, it was exactly that mix of promising signs and infuriating shortcuts that kept me reading for so long, but after this abysmal arc I think I'm finished. You're right, it was soured from the start.

Tom, your favorite band sucks because anybody who would pseudonymize themselves as "Tom Clancy" couldn't possibly have a good favorite band. Of course, I'm not exactly one to talk in the share-a-name-with-a-celebrity department, so if your name honestly happens to be Tom Clancy then I apologize. Your favorite band sucks for entirely different reasons.


If you have never liked the series, why feel the need to "review" the most recent issue? It seems to me that even though you don't like the comic, you have read it from the beginning. I always have a hard time figuring out why some people online feel the need to review titles or genres they don't like. It happens quite frequently. People online first read and then review titles they know from the beginning they are not going to enjoy. It would be like me reviewing magna or low fat salad dressing or country music. You don't like Y The Last Man? Fine. Nobody says you have to read it. It has always pretty much only had a niche audience anyway. Has it ever even cracked the top 50 in sales? It's not like this comic is so scary popular that it needs to be knocked down a few pegs. I just don't see the point.

Alex Freed

Rick: I obviously can't speak for Marc, but I find it useful and interesting to critique and analyze stories that don't seem to work. No one spends pages and pages breaking down Chuck Austen's latest comic, because most people see the same, fairly obvious problems with it. (I haven't actually read much by Austen, so I'm just using him as an example.)

With Y, it's generally well-liked, so publically critiquing it can open a discussion of what works about it, what doesn't, whether those traits are quirks of the author or confined just to one book, etc. I read the comics blogs so I can learn about and discuss the medium as a whole, and study the craft more closely.

There's also some venting involved, of course. I feel (without justification, admittedly) personally slighted when I read a book or comic or watch a TV show or movie that I consider significantly flawed. Naturally, I like to complain about it--why aren't things better? If people want to argue that I'm wrong, and the flaws I see aren't flaws, or that they aren't significant, then great--I can learn something. If not, I get to wallow with like-minded curmudgeons.

P.S: If someone wants to write a several-page essay on Chuck Austen's strengths and how they're more apparent to less hardcore comics readers, I'd love to see it.


y the last man, to my understanding, is the highest selling vertigo title. now, that's a niche in the larger scheme of direct market comics, so no, it's never penetrated the top 50, but within its niche, its a successful book. (and most of the top 50's dreck not worth talking about anyway). which i think begs the question: is it any good?

well... apparently it has ninjas(?).


I cannot believe someone would have the tenacity to use Tango & Cash as a pejorative?!


Nice read of Y. I'll join the handful of people here who tried Y after all the word of mouth and wasn't too impressed with the first trade. The first Preacher trade has its kinks, but I found myself able to work through them and enjoy the book, and Ennis made me care about the characters enough to want to see them through their journey. I'm a bit young for Tango and Cash, but I definitely equated the first volume of Y with "standard high-concept Hollywood film that has its moments but isn't worth seeing again" (actually-that sounds like my thoughts on the film Constantine as well) rather than high-brow "intelligent" comics. I guess I get more peeved when I read reviews of the book that beging with "Do I really need to tell you to read this again?" when I didn't find it all that impressive. Decent, but not something I'd actively pursue more of.

Incidentally, I had the same reaction to the first volume of Fables and, to a lesser extent, the first Walking Dead trade. Decent reads, but very overhyped.

Tom Clancy

if your name honestly happens to be Tom Clancy then I apologize

It's not just a clever nom de web; think of these comments as an attempt to reclaim my Google-ability from that hack. And let me say "Diff'rent strokes for different folks" as I thought Preacher over-blown crap for the most part. Like Deadwood without any imagination. Or too much.

David Fiore

I feel for you Tom!

Sadly, your battle will be a great deal more harrowing than my victorious google-campaign against an over-the-hill NFL lineman...

(why not start a blog called "I Am Not The Meathead Schwarzkopf-Wanna Be 'Thriller' Writer"?)


Greg Morrow


Preacher was overblown crap for the most part, pure melodrama. However, sometimes I like melodrama, and in the case of Preacher, Ennis's evident passion for his subject showed through, making the melodrama quite satisfying. As I've said elsewhere, Preacher really makes me want to read the comics Garth Ennis writes when he grows up.

Y didn't work for me in large part because its melodrama didn't display the same kind of fanatical passion. Ennis wrote a book about love and violence being really pissed off at God because he is genuinely pissed off at God, and writing about love and violence is fun. Vaughn writes Y, near as I can tell, because he thinks it's a pretty neat idea.

Dave Van Domelen

Marc has plenty of tenacity. And audacity.

Anyway, on the subject of "Why do I review stuff I don't like?" I'd have to say that this is something of a stupid question. The non-stupid question would be "Why did I read something I disliked in the first place?"

After all, if I read a piece of crap, I'm going to review it in no small part to protect people from wasting their money and time on it.

Most of the time when I review something I dislike, one of three reasons obtains:

1) This is my last issue/arc, I'm dropping it precisely because I disliked it (although a sentimental favorite might get an extra couple of issues just to see if it improves).

2) Someone sent me a review copy, and they deserve a response, for good or ill. With smaller press stuff, they're happy just to get the publicity, even for a scathing review. After all, some people might actively seek a book out for the same reasons I wanted to throw it across the room.

3) I read the "First Looks" copy in advance (or an online preview, or whatever) and don't plan to buy it at all.

But, frankly, I find the "If you didn't like it, shut up and let those of us who did like it pretend everyone likes it" attitude annoying.

Johnny Bacardi

Preacher was Ennis before he wore out his one trick. I liked it a lot.

And now, to risk a 15-yard penalty for a late-hit and piling-on, let me add my name to the list of those who bought Y for a while and bailed not long after. Actually, I made it nine issues before I realized that I was tired of one-dimensional characters, predictible plot twists and implausible sociology, despite my initial impression that Vaughn had really taken the time to think out his concept. Then, when Ex Machina came out, I thought "Well, a lot of people seem to like this Vaughn fella's work, so maybe it was just me". And after four issues of that book...well, I'm convinced that it wasn't me.

Doctor Radium

Y - bought the trade. Hated it...but...ballsy idea though, especially for a guy to write - when I first heard of the title I spent a month(!) hunkered in the bunker, quailing in my orthapaedics at the prospect of an all out blitzkreig on my favourite medium from the MarxistFem-bots...

And so very glad to hear that I am not the only one who finds Ellis over-rated. Shock value is all very well (hell my wardrobe practically subsists on it!) but I needs me some meat to go with my potaters! Don't mind Ocean so far though but I am so very tired of "decompressed storytelling" (itself such an Onanistic descriptor) taking 4 issues to do a 24 page story


I was taken aback that Vaughan had never read Philip Wylie's _The Disappearance_ before writing Y. I suppose Wylie is not known as well as he used to be, but still. Perhaps it's my academic bias, though: it seems like the boy didn't do his research.

When I reread comics runs, I find in general I tend to enjoy them nearly as much with later readings--the Simonson Thor run, Miller's Daredevil, etc. But I've gone back and reread the first Authority trade a couple times, and notice, disturbingly, that the more I look at it, the less impressive it gets. A geometric progression towards mediocrity, I think.

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