Ready to catch up on ‘Y: The Last Man’? Here’s how it compares to the comics
This story contains spoilers for the first five episodes of “Y: The Last Man” on Hulu.
As the story progresses, “Y: The Last Man” — set in a world where Yorick Brown and his pet monkey Ampersand are the only Y chromosome-bearing survivors of a mysterious, global catastrophe — increasingly explores how the surviving officials of a politically polarized U.S. government handle the apocalyptic event.
In the fifth episode of the FX on Hulu series, Regina Oliver (Jennifer Wigmore) — a low-ranking cabinet member from the Republican administration in place when almost every mammal with a Y chromosome suddenly died — makes her triumphant return to the U.S. with a constitutional claim to the presidency.
Oliver is a far-right politician that other characters have described as an “anti-immigrant, anti-government, anti-vaxxer with a Twitter following” and a “complete … fringe lunatic,” leaving viewers to compare her to political figures such as Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene.
Her existence and storyline highlight one of the key differences between this “Y: The Last Man” TV adaptation and the original 2002 comic book series created by Brian K. Vaughan and Pia Guerra.The comics briefly touch on the political aftermath of the event. But for the most part, the 60-issue series didn’t stray far from Yorick and his traveling companions Agent 355 and Dr. Allison Mann, giving glimpses of the world through what and who the group encounters during the journey.
Outside of an early uprising by Republican wives trying to claim their husbands’ elected seats, readers aren’t shown much about how the government tries to get the country back up and running. But the TV series, from executive producer-showrunner Eliza Clark, has kept closer track of U.S. representative-turned-president Jennifer Brown (Diane Lane) — Yorick’s mother — and the obstacles she faces as she tries to govern while worrying about her children.
Unlike in the comics, where the Republican uprising was quickly resolved, the political conflict still brews in the series led by new characters created for the show. Conservative personality Kimberly Campbell Cunningham (Amber Tamblyn), the previous president’s daughter who is none too happy about being excluded from government decisions, has been trying to assemble allies in the Pentagon and sees Oliver’s return as a blessing. For now, it appears neither Cunningham nor Oliver will be won over by President Brown and it’s unlikely that whatever they plan will be resolved as easily as the Republican dissent in the comics.
Here are some other key differences between the comic book and the show so far.
When the catastrophe decimates the presidential line of succession in the show, Rep. Jennifer Brown becomes president of the United States. She tries to see the country through the crisis as much as she worries about her children. While Yorick’s mother is also a member of Congress in the comics, it’s Secretary of Agriculture Margaret Valentine who becomes president. (In the comics, Rep. Brown is also an anti-abortion Democrat, which is much more of a rarity in national politics right now.)
More time with Hero
In both the comics and the show, Hero Brown — Yorick’s older sister — is an EMT who is with her boyfriend when the mass death event happens. Not much else about Hero’s life preceding and immediately following the catastrophe is shown in the comics, and when she eventually crosses paths with Yorick, it is revealed that she has joined a militant, trans-exclusionary gang of women known as Daughters of the Amazon. Her making a friend (thanks to Yorick) is one of the key developments in Hero’s journey later in the series.
The show spends more time on Hero (Olivia Thirlby) and her story and she has a real friend from the very beginning. Could having a good friend keep Hero from falling in with a dangerous crowd?
Meet Sam Jordan
Hero’s best friend Sam (Elliot Fletcher), a transgender man, is one of the original characters created for the TV series. While the comics acknowledge the existence of trans people, it is both fleeting and dated. Clark has mentioned that this dated idea of fixed, binary gender is one aspect of the comics the show updates.
The show is much more intentional and explicit about its depiction of gender and affirming trans, nonbinary and intersex people — Yorick isn’t “the last man,” he’s the last human with a Y chromosome.
Agent 355’s mission
The highly skilled, covert operative designated Agent 355 had been tasked with guarding President Campbell when the catastrophe happens in the show. In the comics, the secret agent is on a mission retrieving an artifact from Jordan when everyone with a Y chromosome suddenly dies. The artifact, called the Amulet of Helene, was even set up to be one of the possible causes for the extinction event. At least TV Agent 355 is just as impressively badass as her comic book counterpart.
Beth is not in Australia
In the show, Yorick proposed to his girlfriend Beth — who was about to head to Australia for her studies — in person on the night before the catastrophe and they have an argument. But in the comics, Yorick pops the question while on a long-distance phone call with Beth, who is already in Australia, and the call drops before he can hear her answer. So comic book Yorick’s priority is to figure out how to get to Australia to find Beth, whose fate remains a mystery for quite a while. How TV Beth’s location will affect what’s to come remains to be seen.
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