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A Man in a woman’s world

A Man in a woman’s world
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First Published: Sat, Oct 04 2008. 12 10 AM IST

The Last Man: He’s in search of a girlfriend.
The Last Man: He’s in search of a girlfriend.
Updated: Sat, Oct 04 2008. 12 10 AM IST
In George Orwell’s Animal Farm, a thinly masked allegory of the birth and corruption of communism, the pigs overthrow their master (a man) but eventually become like men themselves.
They even walk on their hind legs.
The Last Man: He’s in search of a girlfriend.
In Brian K. Vaughan’s Y: The Last Man, a virus destroys the males of all species on Earth but two (males, that is, not species).
But the women, Vaughan’s story goes, manage to mess up everything just as well as the men used to before they all died. In one of the later books in the series, an Indian-looking aide tells her boss, the head of the free world (also a woman; and the new capital of the world isn’t Washington or New York but a very good-looking Paris) that she has good news and bad news.
The bad news is that the Iranians have a nuke.
The good news is that it was entirely developed by women who had, until recently, been under the veil.
Vaughan’s series ended a few months ago.
And as most people know, how you end is more important than how you begin.
The Matrix movies began brilliantly but ended in a ponderous haze of pop philosophy.
Harry Potter began well and, after several popular detours, ended reasonably well.
The Last Man began brilliantly, and ended even more brilliantly with Part 10, Whys and Wherefores.
In between,Vaughan, who has previously appeared in CF (even Y: The Last Man has, but gets to do an encore of sorts ), populated The Last Man with every gender joke known to women and then some.
At the end of the series, Yorrick Brown, who has been traversing the world trying to find his girlfriend, the reason for the death of all males (but two), and behaves like a man in a woman’s world, manages to achieve his objectives—what did you think? These are comic books and these usually leave no loose threads.
Still, in a twist in the tale that is becoming de rigueur among the purveyors of popular fiction, cinema and philosophy, when eventually, he gets to do the manly thing in the Arnie sort of way (Remember? Hasta la vista, baby), he doesn’t.
Instead, in a world where the women are increasingly behaving like men, he chooses to do the womanly thing.
That’s about as clever as the central premise of Pixar’s Wall-E where a trash compacting robot teaches human beings how to live and love.
Out of the mouths of robots...
And men.
Write to Sukumar at cultfiction@livemint.com
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First Published: Sat, Oct 04 2008. 12 10 AM IST