20. Y: The Last Man (DC/Vertigo)
Writer: Brian K. Vaughan
Artist: Pia Guerra, various
One of the most successful books to come out of Vertigo in its post-Sandman days was Brian K. Vaughan and Pia Guerra’s Y: The Last Man. Launched in 2002, it's about a man named Yorick Brown, who is the last surviving man after a mysterious plague wipes out the world’s male population. Along with his pet monkey, Ampersand, Yorick embarks upon a journey to find out the origins of the plague and why he's still alive.
Vaughan’s hook isnt just the sprawling and unpredictable plot, but, rather, the character of Yorick himself. Because of the serialized nature of comic books, we don’t often see characters grow and mature—they’re often stuck in suspended animation. Since Y: The Last Man had a complete arc planned from the beginning, Yorick’s journey over the series’ 70 issues is completely satisfying and engaging.
Humor, heartbreak, and suspense are all present in Yorick’s attempts to find out more about this plague and be reunited with his girlfriend, Beth. And it’s because of Vaughan’s vision and meticulous planning that this title came off as one complete story, as opposed to just a series of arcs without any real direction.