The Last American November 28, 2016 elizabeth.wasson Even commercial comics in the U. S. have taken a more serious turn on occasion. The Last American is a highly intelligent commentary on the degraded discourse about nuclear war in our popular culture. Like the well-known documentary film, The Atomic Cafe, it mocks the absurd civil defense campaign of the 1950s which urged schoolchildren to survive a nuclear attack by imitating a cartoon turtle: “Duck and cover!” The Last American seems at first to be yet another post-holocaust adventure story, featuring a specially-chosen agent who was preserved underground during the nuclear war, emerging to take command of the resistance against America’s conquerors like a typical Radioactive Rambo. Yet for the entire series, he searches in vain for other survivors, finding instead only heartbreaking evidence of the extinction of the human race.His robot companions try to conceal the truth from him as long as possible; but in the end he must face the fact that he is not only the last American, but vey likely the last human being alive. The fantasy of the planners who thought they could win a victory in the wake of a nuclear war is shown to be a tragic farce. One particularly effective sequence depicts a robot trying to cheer up his human companion by jauntily singing “New York, New York,” while patrolling the ruins of that city, littered with rubble and the skeletons of the former inhabitants. The robot’s song blends into a fantastic sequence in which Death himself goes on with the lyrics in drawings which underline the irony of the lyrics. The Death-headed robot cavorts through the ruins of the city whose show-business past he ironically celebrates. When his robot urges The Last American to “Look on the bright side” he imagines a chorus of animated corpses singing the following lyrics:Every cloud has a silver lining!It’s just an attitude of mind,Look on the bright side and you’ll find–The Silver lining that’s in every cloud.When the Bombs are on their way,At least they give you time to prayAnd don’t forget to file a claim for compensation!When you’re flying through the airThink what you’ll save on taxi fare.The worst disaster has its brighter side!New York City’s tumbling down–Be thankful you’re not out of town,News like this could spoil a good vacation!So what if that Fireball kills?Think how it cuts those heating bills–And it’s not every day you get a free cremation!And when that fallout’s raining down,Just pass the tanning lotion round!Who cares about a little radiation?Someone’s dropped another bomb, that’s okay,You like it warm! It’s just a different attitude of mind!There has been no more bitter mockery of Americans’ inability to take seriously the prospect of nuclear annihilation.