As with all Collected Editions reviews, this review contains SPOILERS.
The theme of Y: The Last Man - Ring of Truth might obstensibly seem to be "truth;" rather, this trade might seem more to be about forgiveness. In the first of three stories here, collected over eight issues, Yorick Brown deals with his guilt over killing a woman back in Arizona (in Safeword); in the second story, we watch the journey of Hero Brown, brainwashed by the Amazons and now struggling for redemption. These two stories come together in the final tale, "Ring of Truth," as Hero and Yorick clash at Dr. Mann's San Francisco laboratory, while at the same time dealing with the renegade Setauket Ring and the mysterious ninja Toyota.
My favorite part of this trade "Tongues of Flame," where Yorick sleeps with the woman he meets, Beth--and I liked it most, conversely, because I found myself wishing so much that Yorick hadn't done it. As with Judd Winick's Oliver Queen (though under somewhat different circumstances), it's the parts of characters like Yorick and Ollie where they mess up, where they do the obviously wrong or damaging thing, that makes them the most interesting. It wasn't a choice that Clark Kent would've made, but it was a choice for Yorick Brown. And, in the end, it wasn't wrong-wrong for Yorick to sleep with her--two consenting adults in a post-apocalyptic nightmare world--but the reader knows that Yorick will ultimately blame himself for his lack of fidelity to his girlfriend-Beth in Australia, and we both love and fear the challenges the character will make for himself.
One of the strengths of Y: The Last Man is just how much is always going on at one time, but here, it almost seems to be something of a distraction. "Ring of Truth" starts out seeming as though it's about the ring Yorick wears around his neck, or perhaps Agent 355's Amulet of Helene, and what those have to do with the plague that killed all the men. Quickly, however, the story becomes about Yorick's own monkey-granted immunity to the plague, and then it becomes about the mysterious ninja that keeps trying to take off with Ampersand. Each story is completely engaging in its own right, but me, I'm still back with the Setauket ring while the protagonists are thinking of heading off to Japan. Hopefully (and, I think, one can safely bet) we haven't seen the last of Anna Strong--the destruction of the amulet left too much in that plot either unexplained or unconfirmed.
Brian Vaughan did pull a great rabbit out of his hat with the suggestion of Toyota's true master. "Dr. M," of course, has suggested the less-than-truthful Allison Mann this whole time; while I'm sure she must have mentioned her parents at some point, I didn't catch it, and I was therefore delightfully floored when she noted that Toyota seemed to be off toward where her mother lives. The clues all fit the solution well, and my guess is that Vaughan will still have another surprise or two for us anyway before Toyota's origin is fully revealed.
I'm eager for my next Y: The Last Man fix, November's Girl on Girl, though I do begin to tire of the "heroes go somewhere, story ends in a battle where someone dies" nature of the stories. Still, after seeing America and Israel through the lens of the Y: The Last Man world, Japan should be very interesting, and I'm eager to see what Vaughan does with it.
(Another review of Y: The Last Man - Ring of Truth by Evan at Chipped Ham Productions can be found here.)
Back to the DCU now, with Absolute Batman: Hush, and after that, could be JLA, could be the Identity Crisis hardcover ... we'll see!