Why the last man?
February 8, 2009 11:47 AM   Subscribe

What caused the event in "Y: The Last Man"? Spoilers inside.

Brian Vaughan has said in an interview that there is a definitive answer to the question of what killed all the men, and that it's "hidden" somewhere in those 60 issues, but that he doesn't want to say what/where it is. Is there any consensus of opinion on what the "right" answer is?
posted by jbickers to Media & Arts (8 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
No, because Brian Vaughan is being an asshole about the ending:
"I feel that there is a definitive explanation, but I like that people don't necessarily know what it is. In interviews we always said that we would tell people exactly what caused the plague. The thing was, we never said when we were going to tell. We weren't going to tell you when we were telling you, I should say."
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 11:53 AM on February 8, 2009 [1 favorite]

There were multiple possible reasons it happened. There was the medallion/artifact that 361 stole that would bring a plague if it left the country. There was Dr. Mann giving birth to her clone baby. And there was the work of Dr. Mann's father. The implication was that at least those first two events happened at the same time, and the plague that killed the men started when they happened. So it could be one of those, or it could be the latter.
posted by schroedinger at 1:49 PM on February 8, 2009

Response by poster: Yeah, I know ... but Vaughn seems to be saying that there's one definitive reason, and I was hoping the fanboy community had done enough research/speculation/conversation for a clear favorite to have emerged.
posted by jbickers at 2:58 PM on February 8, 2009

Vaughan doesn't know. He's going to wait until there's a popular consensus before he announces the "true" answer. It's like Lost and so forth - they just make it up as they go along and wait for the fans to do all the hard work.
posted by turgid dahlia at 3:47 PM on February 8, 2009

Response by poster: TD: I am hoping against hope that you're wrong about Lost. And so far, season 5 has given me reason to hope that there is in fact a master plan that they're working from. The inclusion of Vaughan on the writing crew gives me hope that there's similar clarity for Y lurking out there somewhere.

Or perhaps I'm just naive.
posted by jbickers at 3:52 PM on February 8, 2009

There was also the explanation that Alter gave Yorick at the end: that 361 had initiated the gendercide. Originally a mission to cause demographic devastation in China, the plague had spiraled out of control. Given that Alter was clearly trying to goad Yorick into killing her at the time, her accusation may or may not be true - but in terms of explanations (given the outright weirdness and improbability of every male dying at the exact same moment), something intentional, rather than the pseudo-scientific or paranormal explanations that the other characters provide (covered by schroedinger) would be, logically, the most likely cause. There's also the neat, bitter twist of it: the last man on earth falls in love with the woman who caused it all, and never gets over her after she is killed.
posted by Bora Horza Gobuchul at 3:56 PM on February 8, 2009

Vaughan pretty much means that there's a definitive answer for him. It may or may not be present in the series in a translatable form. Vaughan is very consistently tight-lipped regarding spoilers, theories, or outside interpretations of his stories (check out the extensive FAQ at his now-defunct forum for a good rundown of his personality).

The list in the Wikipedia is pretty thorough and, you'll notice, encompasses both magical and scientific explanations. It's missing some clues that make the theories fun to debunk and untangle, though, most notably the survival of the two male astronauts, the absence of any sign of disease in Yorick, Ampersand, or Vlad (despite a lot of fuss being made regarding inoculations), and the reappearance of male rats near the end of the series.

Personally, I favor Alter's chemical agent theory. It explains the astronauts, and allows for Dr. Mann's actions to inadvertently be the cause of his, Ampersand's, and Yorick's survival (even if his theory is wrong). I also feel like there might be an answer that supports this, buried in the tons of medical gobbledygook from the series.
posted by greenland at 4:44 PM on February 8, 2009

According to wikipedia, here's the possible explanations:

--The Amulet of Helene being removed from the nation of Jordan. The amulet's owner warned that if it was ever taken from its homeland, it would create a tragedy greater than the Trojan War.

(Actually no, the woman doctor who was wearing it said "My father told me that catastrope comparable to the Trojan War would take place it were ever removed from this land. Now as bad as the Trojan War was, it doesn't compare to killing all the male mammals except for two)

--The successful cloning of a human female (which renders the reproductive role of men unnecessary) caused the Earth to "course correct" itself and eliminate all males.

(this is so incredibly stupid, I can't even entertain it)

--A combination of Dr. Matsumori's attempt to kill his daughter's unborn clone fetus by injecting a capuchin monkey (Ampersand) with a toxin engineered to target the clone's specific genetic code with a form of morphic resonance.

(eh, maybe)

--The Culper Ring, who may have created a chemical agent designed to prevent women from conceiving male children. This agent was introduced into China to cripple their economy, however, something went wrong, and the chemical agent instead killed males of all ages.

(ridiculous, since all the men died at the same time, had they all slowly died, this explanation would have make more sense)

--The Earth cleansing herself of the Y chromosome, as the Amazons believe.

(You missed a spot or two!)

--Changes in the Dreamtime impacting normal reality, as believed by some Australian aboriginals and Beth.

(That's just lame as hell)

--The Rapture taking all men and leaving women as a punishment for original sin, as believed by an air traffic controller.

(why leave Yorick and Ampersand then, to taunt them?)

It's important to note that 355 left Israel with Helene doohickey at exactly the same time as Mann was having her clone baby, which is exactly when all the men died. So that either that means neither explanation means anything or Vaughan doesn't know himself.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 4:54 PM on February 8, 2009 [1 favorite]

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