On sale this week is the fifth and final hardcover volume collecting Y: The Last Man, possibly the most beloved creator-owned comic book series released in this young century. A regular on "Best Of" lists throughout its six-year run, the Vertigo series by Brian K. Vaughan and Pia Guerra & Jose Marzan, Jr. is the story of a mysterious plague that instantly and simultaneously wipes out every male mammal on Earth save for one 20-something amateur escape artist and his pet monkey. Spanning years, Y's story confronts with equal measures of drama and comedy themes of relationships and gender politics against a startlingly realistic post-apocalyptic landscape.

Y: The Last Man was collected in ten modestly priced and sized paperback editions, but the oversized hardcovers offer a lovelier product at a better value, and it is volume 1 of this series that ComicsAlliance recommends new comics readers pick up. In honor of this presumably final release of Y: The Last Man material, we've put together a gallery of the series' many beautiful covers by such artists as J.G. Jones, Aron Wiesenfeld and Massimo Carnevale, the latter of whom created the bulk of Y's covers and all of those for the hardcover editions.

Following the five hardcover covers, take note of how the Y: The Last Man covers have themselves told an impressively accurate if succinct version of the 60-issue narrative.