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Ring of Truth: The Last Man Volume #5    by Brian K. Vaughan, Pia Guerra & Jose, Jr. Marzan order for
Ring of Truth
by Brian K. Vaughan
Order:  USA  Can
DC Comics, 2005 (2005)
* * *   Reviewed by Lance Victor Eaton

Being the only man on Earth with billions of women to choose from certainly seems like it could be every man's fantasy, but not for Yorick Brown. Several years ago, a devastating virus almost instantly killed all the men and male simians in the world - except for Yorick and his pet monkey, Ampersand. Now, as he makes his way across the United States towards California, he must hide his identity. Though many women long to enjoy carnal pleasures with a man again, the more militant have taken the catastrophe as a sign or reconfirmation that men are evil - should any have survived, they plan to fix the problem.

This Volume #5: Ring of Truth delivers three story arcs, covering issues 24 through 31 of the comic book series. In Tongues of Flame, Yorick enters a church in Cooksfield, California, to contemplate God and come to terms with his sins. There he meets Beth, who resides in the church. As the two get friendly, the sanctuary comes under attack by militant marauders who demand tribute. With a bit of divine intervention, the duo manage to fend off the intruders, but Yorick realizes he must return to his bodyguard Agent 355 and Dr. Mann, to determine why Yorick survived when all the other males died.

In the second story, Hero's Journey, readers get a colorful background story to Yorick's sister Hero. Since the schism, Hero fell under the brainwashing influence of Victoria, leader of the Amazonians. These women celebrated the fall of mankind and rose up to claim their new position of power. In addition to that back story, the writers provide more background on Hero and her life before the transition, giving a clearer picture of how she ended up nearly killing her own brother.

The third story, Ring of Truth, finds Yorick, Agent 355, and Dr. Mann at the doctor's laboratory as they determine how Yorick and Ampersand are unique enough to have survived. Before much can be discovered, the Setauket Ring, a splinter group from Agent 355's association, interferes with their plans and at the worse possible time, Hero shows up to accuse 355 of trying to hurt her brother. It goes from bad to worse when Yorick falls ill with an sickness that everyone fears is the same disease that killed all the other men. To top it all off, someone kidnaps Ampersand.

The intensity and intrigue that made this series so popular still runs through this fantastic addition. The art remains consistent and strong throughout this volume. Part of what makes the series so great is that it avoids the cliché, that is having Yorick sleep his way across the country, becoming a post-cataclysmic Hugh Hefner. Instead, his mission - to find his fiancée in Australia - drives him across a ruined world to his love. Another strong aspect of this series and this volume is its deeply rooted realism. This is a graphic novel for adults. With swearing, nudity, and sometimes-vicious and graphic violence, it can shake one to the core.

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