Writer: Brian K. Vaughan
Artist: Goran Sudzuka
Publisher: DC Comics/Vertigo
There are so many reasons to love this book - the compelling characters, the twists and turns, the realistic depiction of gendercide and its aftereffects, not to mention the fact that a single issue would probably send Dave Sim into an epileptic fit.
But if Y: The Last Man has a single weakness, it's that the post-arc character spotlights tend to be a bit uneven. For example, last month we got a very interesting look at Dr. Mann's backstory; this month it's Alter Tse'elon, Yorick's most persistent antagonist. Unlike the previous issue, though, this one doesn't really hold together.
From the very beginning, before the men died, it was clear that something was very wrong with Alter. As the series progressed, she went from hardened military officer to psychotic murderer, and this issue was supposed to tell us why. Except it doesn't.
To be honest, I don't quite understand the storytelling choice Vaughan makes here. He spends most of the issue building up a history for Alter that seems to reveal why she's such a fanatic: her sister was murdered by Palestinians, which led to her zealous attachment to the IDF. This also explains why she needs Yorick to repopulate her country. But at the end of the issue we find out that the whole thing was a lie Alter fabricated; her sister was accidentally killed by the IDF itself. The issue presents a rather bizarre tangent about war making the world go round, and that's about it. It really fails to satisfy, because the end result is that Alter's actions apparently have no explanation, and why would the other IDF officers follow someone who's clearly insane?
It's rather disappointing, especially considering the very high standard this book has set over nearly fifty issues. Vaughan concludes the issue with two twists: first, we get a hint of what's been happening in places where Yorick's identity was exposed (and sadly, it makes a lot of sense). Then we get Alter claiming she wants to help Yorick; as far as I can tell, this was apparently meant to be a genuine attempt at surprising us, except we've already seen her gun down Yorick's mother, which means we know she's lying,
which means nothing's actually changed with her. Ultimately, the whole story falls to pieces.
Better luck next time, I suppose.
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