NOTE: This review covers the first four trade paper backs of East of West, which collect issues 1 – 19 and The World source book.
Read this book. Now. Stop reading this, go get the trades, and consume them with you eye teeth. They are fantastic.
East of West is one of those rare books that takes genre tropes, tosses them in a blender, and produces something on the page that is larger and far more intriguing than its separate parts. I mean, it would be easy to call this book a science fiction story and move along, but you would be doing the work Jonathan Hickman and Nick Dragotta have produced a great disservice.
This book has everything: drama, horror, romance, action, adventure, Native American mysticism, the four horsemen of the apocalypse, family blood feuds, gunslingers, political intrigue, and a robot balloon. When I say East of West has everything, I mean it has EVERY-FUCKING-THING.
*source: East of West #19 (I think) from Image Comics*
The last time I recall being shotgunned by ten different genres and loving every moment of it would be when I read the first three Dark Tower books by Stephen King.
While being shotgunned by genres may seem overwhelming, the abundance of stuff jammed into each issue does nothing to hinder the flow of the story or character development.
“So, Mike, what is East of West all about?” you might ask.
To which I would like to reply, “Shut your face and just read it.” But what I would probably tell you is that the comic follows one of the Horsemen of the Apocalypse, Death (yes, that Death) as he travels across a version of the United States, where the line between magic and technology is blurred, in search of his lost child, a child who just might be the harbinger of End Times, like, for real.
I guess that would be the elevator pitch. And if that didn’t grab you, I’d probably tell you about the robot balloon again.
I don’t want to be cryptic about this comic. I really don’t, but every time I write a word in this review, I feel like I’ve said too much.
This is one of those stories that it methodical in its telling. And while sometimes what’s going on can seem arcane, things always come around full circle.
This is a challenging book, but not challenging in the way one would consider Alan Moore’s A Disease of Language challenging. This book likes to keep you in the dark right up to the point where you want to drop the comic like a vomiting baby that’s not yours and walk away. But the precipice of making you do so is never crossed. Just when you think you’re going to give up, East of West grabs your stupid, stupid face and makes you read its crazy words and look at its batshit, bonkers pictures and then it shakes you silly and makes you scream, “thank you, sir, may I have another?” and then it give you this:
*Source: East of West #3*
On a Pale Robot Horse Thing or Something…
This book does not give a shit if you like it or not. And its apathy isn’t presented in a pretentious Radiohead sort of way; it’s in a switchbladeand broken beer bottle, punk rock sort of way. This book has a permanent sneer on its face and it wants to show you something different. It wants you to feel the plight of its characters in every panel and reconsider what you think makes traditional story telling work. And love it or hate it, there’s something to be said for that.
At the time of this writing, the first four trades paper backs are out now and the fifth will be released soon. There is also a deluxe hardcover that collects the first 15 issues called The Apocalypse: Year One. Pick them up or get the singles if you’re a glutton for punishment.
Quick reminder: Robot Balloon.
Final Grade: A