For five years, TV writer Brian K. Vaughan (Lost) and artist Pia Guerra’s comic Y: The Last Man has chronicled slacker hero Yorick Brown’s quest to learn why a male-obliterating plague spared only him, his pet capuchin, and a few billion women. Now comes the melancholy, smart-as-ever conclusion. For fans, this is like The Sopranos signing off.

The series’ main lesson may be this: Just because you’re the last man on earth doesn’t mean you can’t get hung up on one girl — or that you’re mature enough to interpret those feelings before it’s too late. In recent issues, Yorick realized his true love wasn’t his long-lost girlfriend, but the woman by his side all along, the tough, enigmatic Agent 355. Then she was killed. The last issue fast-forwards to show Yorick as a sadder, wiser, still-wisecracking octogenarian. Global biology hasn’t corrected itself, but Yorick clones are dubious proof that there’s progress — a development the original views with bemused detachment.

The big reveal of Yorick’s love for 355, while satisfying, was familiar drama, but the creators handle its fallout with terrific poignancy. Never mind Vaughan’s frequent pop-intellectual tidbits and fascinating speculation about how a catastrophic man-demic might transform society. Y‘s finale proves that Big Ideas were always the tattered-chintz window dressing for this dystopia’s relationships and moments of self-discovery. A

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Y: The Last Man