Nothing Up His Sleeve
By Cho Seok
Cho Seok’s Moon You is a post-apocalyptic webtoon.
An optimist would say the mission to save the Earth was 10/11th successful. A cynic would say that 1/11th failure was enough to doom civilization as we know it. Moon Yoo would say that he got left behind when the other stalwarts returned from the Moon to the Earth and so the whole end of the world thing is pretty academic from his perspective.
Yoo never intended to be the last person alive on the Moon. He never even meant to go to the Moon. His steadfast devotion to mediocrity meant he was the sole biologist in his department not to volunteer for Moon Shield-related research and thus the only one to escape the pathogen to which the other researchers had inadvertently exposed themselves. As the last researcher in his group left standing, he was the only one available to send to Earth’s satellite.
Once on the Moon, he came into his own. Firstly, all of his lab animals died, leaving him with no work to do. Secondly, his continued presence was tolerated because it would be too expensive to send a single person home. Thirdly, he was so unremarkable that none of the other moonies noticed his absence as they marched into the ship that would take them all home. Nobody missed Moon at all.
No Mark Watney, Moon decides to kill himself, only to discover that his unexceptional intellect  and the thought that went into designing the Lunar colony protect him. The low gravity (and the fact he keeps his space suit on) prevent him from hanging himself. The lack of tall buildings means his attempts to throw himself to his doom are similarly unsuccessful. His attempts to work himself to death only leave him fit. He could simply go out onto the surface and remove his helmet, but he is too cowardly to face explosive decompression. He cannot even rely on supplies running out, because as the only person in an automated facility designed to sustain a population of one hundred, the supplies will last longer than he will.
There’s nothing for it but to sink into melancholy and boredom.
In fact, the 1/11th of an extinction level event did a lot of damage but it did not doom all life on Earth. It did not even end all human life on Earth. Most of civilization was destroyed but enough survived for a reboot. People are working hard to rebuild. Inspiring them? Intermittent signals from the Moon showing what appears to be Yoo’s epic struggle to survive on a hostile world.
The Moon Shield as described could not work the way the author has it working. Of course, it’s biologist Moon Yoo’s explanation and he was doing his best not to listen to what he considered boring and extraneous info.
I read this on a whim. Cho Seok’s webtoon The Sound of Your Heart was the basis of the popular TV show of the same name, but since the television show is popular in Korea and I am in Canada, I only discovered it while researching Moon You. Thank Walkingnorth’s Always Human for suggesting this to me; both toons are hosted by webtoons.com.
If you’ve developed an aversion to competence porn, Moon is the protagonist for you. Supremely unambitious, he’s too unremarkable to succeed at killing himself in an environment intensely hostile to human life. Determined to avoid any sort of achievement, his antics on the Moon have (thanks to well-timed communications issues) inspired the whole of the Earth. The webtoon is still ongoing. Where it will end it is unclear….
Cho Seok’s art is simple but effectively conveys the protagonist’s flat affect.
Moon You can be read here.
1: He attempted to kill himself with sleep deprivation. He read books to stay awake. He did not die and received an exceptional education that he did not want and for which he has no use. As yet.