No Hero #1. by Warren Ellis and Juan Jose Ryp. Plot: Joshua Carver becomes a vigilante. In a sense, this isn't anything new; Ellis has been doing the super-powered nonsuperhero for quite some time. The difference here is the clarity towards what's at stake. From the title, to the pseudo-new clipping beginning, to the first scene of gratuitious (and at the same time, not gratutitious at all) violence, Ellis sets up this series as an examination of the contradiction inherent in comic books: that 'hero' and 'vigiliante' aren't really words that go together. Ryp's work is impressive in its outline; the comic begins with short, orderly squares that lengthen and grow as Carver prepares to do battle. The frames then begin to break down until Carter makes his first kill; very nice effect.
A good first issue; we'll see where things go.
Y the Last Man, written by Brian K. Vaughan and illustrated (mostly) by Pia Guerra, was a 60 issue series that ran from September 2002 to January 2008. The plot, in a nutshell: a plague kills every male on earth except for Yorick Brown, an escape artist with an English degree, and his monkey Ampersand. The entire series is about how Yorick Brown and the rest of the world cope with the loss of the men. It's a post-apocalyptic bildungromans, with a generous dollop of gender study. It's a serious examination of what the world would be like without the y-chromosoned, and how people cope after the end of everything. Through the course of the series, Yorick goes from reclusive shut-in to, well, someone worthy of the title last man, with all the masculine, testosterone-ridden baggage that entails. It's beautifully written, nearly always beautifully drawn, and it's possibly the best ending I've ever read in graphic form--hell, in any form. I have to admit my own judgement is biased; part of the appeal of the series for me is that when I started reading, I was basically the same age Yorick was when he started out, and we both grew at the same rate. If the novel is a journey that the characters, reader, and writer all go on together, then this was... a really... good... journey. Ok, the metaphor got away on me. But read the book. Read it for Yorick's quest to find the missing Beth. Read it for the mystery of 355. Read it for the monkey.
One last thing: There are far, far better reasons to like Y: the Last Man beyond "Yorick and I are both over-educated, underachieving white guys". Y Fans, I'm calling on you to come on down and supply them.