The Goggler Pull List #5: Superman: Red & Blue and Y: The Last Man

Dept. of Comic Book Compulsions

In this week’s edition of The Goggler Pull List, we take a look at the latest Superman comic and revisit a classic of the comic book genre, Y: The Last Man.

Let’s do this!


Superman: Red & Blue (Anthology)

Superman: Red & Blue

Writing Superman must be one of the hardest gigs in the comic business. How do you write about an alien who can shoot lasers from his eyes, hear anything and everything, catch an airplane, stop bullets with his hands, and fly in space? How do you tell a story with a character so strong that throwing any kind of villain at him can easily devolve into being a punching battle for pages on end?

You tell that story by making him human. Superman: Red & Blue is a new anthology series by DC Comics that tells small vignettes of the man in red and blue. These are short stories that remind us that the thing this almost invulnerable son of Krypton wants more than anything else is to be human.

The comic anthology is told in two tones, in the colours that represent Superman the most. And it’s beautiful. In what could have been an exercise in over-complication, the red and blue is used here to incredible effect, adding emphasis and character to each panel, artfully, and differently, for each of the short stories in the anthology.

Superman: Red & Blue

The first issue of Superman: Red & Blue sees him confront a formerly murderous Goebbels-like general from his past. A story told so wonderfully, and powerfully, without a single punch being thrown, or laser beam shot. It sees Superman confront an alien that has stolen all colour and given Clark the ability to return it to humanity. It also sees Superman face a child whose parent he wasn’t able to save. 

Superman: Red & Blue

But the short story that made me smile, and feel, was the story “The Boy Who Saved Superman” by Wes Craig. The story opens with Clark at the offices of the Daily Planet as he is about to meet his hero. Clark Kent, Superman himself, giddy as a boy about to meet his idol.

Superman: Red & Blue

There’s just something so delightful about having this giant of a man, this physically immovable object, acting like a 16-year-old Sinatra bobby-soxer, recounting the story of how this young man, as a young boy, had saved his life.

Superman: Red & Blue

Writing for Superman is a tough gig, but by making him face his humanity, and all that comes with it, the feelings of regret, doubt, awe, failure, and hope, Superman: Red & Blue makes the bulletproof man more than just an alien, and more than just Earth’s protector. It makes him human. 


Y: The Last Man (Brian K. Vaughan, Pia Guerra)

There is little doubt that some of the finest storytelling is found in comic books. It just allows for so much – the serialised format, the deft combination of art and prose, the freedom from budget and content limitations – and Y: The Last Man is a prime example of the best that the medium has to offer. This is literature at its best, with compelling characters that grow and evolve across the series, with a provocative mystery that keeps you guessing throughout. This is one hell of a page-turner.

Brian K. Vaughan begins with a high concept premise. An inexplicable sex-specific plague wipes out everything with a Y chromosome – humans and animals – all except two: a dopey wannabe magician named Yorick and his pet monkey. As he kicks off the story, your mind is already reeling with questions. Why Yorick? What does the monkey have to do with anything? What caused the plague? And how does society function with nearly half of its population dead? Almost all of the world’s billionaires and landowners are gone. As are most of our politicians and elected representatives. Every last rabbi, priest, and imam is dead. And if that isn’t the basis for a sharply satirical meditation on the state of the world, I don’t know what is.

It is an odd kind of apocalypse, because the world hasn’t really come to an end per se. Everything humanity has built up to that point is still there. It’s just that half of humanity is gone. What does happen with this book, however, is that it forces you to reassess how you define humanity, and just how much emphasis you put on gender within that definition.

The cleverest thing about this series is how cunningly Brian K. Vaughan and Pia Guerra evolve their perspective. As our current male-dominated world falls apart, so too does the masculine gaze. Gone are any interactions with men, and with that, the lens by which they see the world. The intentionally clichéd depictions of women that begin the book are there to challenge your conceptions of narrative and point-of-view. There is a conscious subversion of that predictable science fiction trope – that traditionally male sexual fantasy of being the only man alive on a planet full of women – into something far more feminist in scope.

You may also want to check out: P.D.James’ The Children of Men (and Alfonso Cuarón’s dystopian masterpiece of the same name), Naomi Alderman’s The Power, Mary Shelley’s The Last Man (which seems to serve as the most direct inspiration to this series), and that glorious Twilight Zone episode, Time Enough at Last.


This giveaway has ended.

We get our comics either from our local comic book store, The Last Comic Shop, or on Comixology. What do you think about Superman: Red & Blue or Y: The Last Man? Have you read them? Are you interested to check it out? Let us know by getting in touch with us on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram.

Check out our previous installments of The Goggler Pull List here.

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