Written by Jonathan Hickman.
Illustrated by Nick Dragotta.
When I picked up East of West, I admit I mainly chose it because of its cover. I am going through a western phase and I’ve been watching a few old classic movies.
So when I started reading East of West I expected to read a comic version of something like The Good, the Bad and the Ugly and well.. I was wrong.
So very wrong.
What you get instead with East of West is a futuristic world with heavy biblical/mythological themes in a ‘dystopian version’ of the United States as the backdrop. You have to concentrate on every page, on every bit of dialogue as Jonathan Hickman the writer throws you right into the thick of it, expecting you to grab your bearings right of the bat.
The story is centred around the four horsemen of the apocalypse; Conquest, War, Famine and Death. Death has gone rogue and the other 3 horsemen are on the search to find him.
Hickman once said in a interview that Death is a Clint Eastwood type with the suit and cowboy hat whose character feels “betrayed”, while the other 3 horsemen are described as feeling “abandoned”. It’s clear to see, especially later in the Volume that the horsemen are multidimensional and in someways, their titles do not completely represent the personalities within.
The story is made even more interesting with the introduction of a newly formed group called “The Chosen” who are elites from Seven Nations with the sole purpose to bring an end to the world.
So what you get with East of West is a sci fi western story that though highly based in fantasy hits home about human imperfections. It looks at the world half empty with “the end of the world” becoming imminent because everyone hates each other to much to solve the biggest problems. Yet with all that doom and gloom it paints a glimmer of hope, coming from the most unlikely of places.
The start of this adventure is well told and cleverly paced. It doesn’t hold your hand but it makes the characters and the world so compelling that even if at first your as confused as I was, you want to keep reading, keep piecing together the puzzle and when things do start to become clear, you may smile as I did, in excitement for what could follow.
For me the most intriguing character was Death, yes we have seen a thousand interpretations of him but somehow this version was fresh, even a little ‘human’. Though killing may be his job, it isn’t all there is to him. He is moved by something, willing to fight with all he has for it, and reach the dream he feels was snatched away from him.
The art is well suited and displays each of the four horsemen brilliantly, all of them given distinctive features to compliment their name’s. East of West’s world is made of greed, lust, fear and darkness and it shows well on every page.
If your wanting to flex your comic reading muscles and try something a little different then I couldn’t recommend a better book. I am gladly going to add this to my ‘must collect series’ list and find out more about the apocalypse.
Written by Tyrone Burns