Archives: “East of West (Volume 1)”

Originally published September 19, 2013.

Image Comics. Written by Johnathan Hickman. Art by Nick Dragotta. Collects issues #1-5

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I’ve been hearing more and more about East of West as the months go on so when the first trade paperback was available I figured it was about time for me to check it out.

East of West in a nutshell is the story of the four horseman of the apocalypse. Well actually it’s about three of the Horsemen (War, Famine and Conquest) trying to track down the fourth (Death). But it’s also about this group called “the Chosen.” The world leaders of the future, who are purposely working together to bring about the end of the world. And it’s about Death’s missions to retrieve what was taken from him and be reunited with his wife.

Ok so there’s no “in a nutshell” for this series.

As you’ve probably determined, there’s a lot going on. But the action is very slow going, there’s a lot of set up, a lot of characters to be introduced and a lot of relationships and back handed deals to be explored. At first I wished it would just tell me what everyone was after but as I kept reading I began to appreciate the deliberate style, as it meant there was a surprise around every corner.

Death is the character that most of this book centres around. He takes the form of a wild west cowboy in a futuristic world and he is pissed! There is a lot of violence committed because of him or at his hands. I guess this shouldn’t be surprising -he is death after all. (But seriously – violence!!)

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He’s also a very real and interesting character – which was a nice surprise. He has very clear goals and motivations and the love he feels for his wife is downright moving. I appreciated that Hickman didn’t make this character clichéd or boring. You can tell from these first five issues, he not going to be what you expected.

There is some really fascinating world building in this book – a futuristic world blended with the Wild wild west. And it’s complexities are communicated through some very crisp, very detailed artwork. Dragotta is very talented and though I loved all his work throughout this book, I was particularly a sucker for the full page spreads that would appear throughout. Such as this one:

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It is both complex and straight forward all at the same time.

These first four issues are excellent set up and they have me curious about what’s to come. This is a dark and gritty book and if that’s your style you’re going to love it. However the slow pacing makes me feel like buying the monthly issues could get tedious and frustrating while you wait for something big to happen. This one might be better in trade paperback form.

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3.5 out of 5

– Christa

*Disclaimer: I received a copy of this collection from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

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