East of West #1 Review

Written by Jonathan Hickman

Art by Nick Dragotta

Colors by Frank Martin

Reviewed by Steve Seigh

My father once told me that he was no longer feared death. “I’ll greet him, stare into his hollowed eyes, and gladly shake his hand.” This is what my father told his own son just days before his own death. My father was a very strait forward sort of man.

We’ve seen some pretty amazing releases in the comic book world so far in 2013. The Joker came back to Gotham, Cyclops has become Marvel’s very own Che Guevara, the epic and sexually charged Saga has taken the Sci-Fi comic audience by storm, and now we have the release of Jonathan Hickman’s East of West #1. Like I said, it’s been a damn good year for comics.

To say that East of West #1 is atmospheric comic work at its best does not even begin to cover the wide spectrum of praise that I have for this book. It’s one thing to simply read a comic, but it’s entirely another to become fully engrossed in one. East of West #1 demands your full attention at all times. If the massive concepts scripted inside the pages of this book aren’t enough to pull you in than the superb artwork of Nick Dragotta and exquisite color work of Frank Martin certainly will. East of West #1 is a savage and brutal carnival of apocalyptic terror and damnation for your comic book reading soul. If the beginning moments of “The Three Horsemen of the Apocalypse” emerging from the cracked desert soil don’t chill you to your very core, than the state of mankind within the world found in East of West certainly will.

East of West #1 in many ways feels like the beginning to something truly spectacular. After all, it’s not every day that a new comic book series is able to establish its world and characters as quickly and concretely as this first issue seems to do. Hickman has not only created a post-apocalyptic Western dystopia, but he’s managed to bring an overwhelming sense of history and purpose to it as well. The book manages to bring its reader through a gamut of emotions while exploring the book’s wild cast of characters, both main as well as seemingly inconsequential. The Three Horsemen – both in their adolescent as well as their adult forms – are truly terrifying to behold. Even before they’d had the opportunity to interact with the denizens of East of West I felt an overwhelming sense of dread at what they might be capable of. How do you goad Death? What would ever possess you to poke Conquest in his meaty chest, or steal a glance at the ravishing Famine? These are questions you need to as yourself before you die.

There is nowhere that you can hide. There isn’t a single soul on what’s left of the Earth that will keep you safe. The end is upon us and it’s rising a really fucking cool insect-like hover bike. Say your prayers. The Horsemen have been reborn and they’re very restless.

VERDICT:

An ABSOLUTE MUST BUY! It’s like I said earlier,  East of West #1 is a savage and brutal carnival of apocalyptic terror and damnation for your comic book reading soul. If you don’t jump onto it now you’ll find yourself at a loss when everyone is talking about it for months to come.

Review Soundtrack

This review was written while listening to the album Blues Funeral by the Mark Lanegan Band.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zP5GWYXp4d0[/youtube]

This review was written by Steve Seigh – Executive Editor of Talking Comics. You can hear Steve on the Talking Comics weekly podcast as well as find him on Joblo.com where he writes a featured, bi-weekly column called Ink & Pixel. His Twitter handle is @dead_anchoress.

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5 Responses

  1. RepStones

    First off, Steve, if i shuffle off this mortal coil before you, imma buy your old man a beer once i get u there (most likely a Guinness) and tell him he has an amazing progeny.
    As to East of West? Whats not to like? Nothing. This book rocks from front to back. From the mysterious start when only 3 of the 4 horsemen appear to the brief but all encompassing alternate history lesson Hickman and Dragotta give us to set up the premise of the book.
    Hickman’s decision to mix real historical figures and their own twisted ideas of how humanity should operate, with his own imagined loony bins, adds an infectious flavour to this dystopian neo-western delight. Its the kinda story that you wouldn’t be surprised to see Jonah Hex or Daniel Day Lewis’ character from Their Will Be Blood, walk into. It can swing either to the more real or the more unreal.
    As you mention, there are (seemingly) only three horsemen of the apocalypse left. So how does that play out. With only three, does that mean one is able to become more powerful than the other two? Were four necessary to balance each others power? Or do they become more powerful as a triumvirate? After all the strongest shape in architecture is a triangle.
    Great opening chapter to what appears to be Hickman let loose – saddle me up pilgrim.

  2. mpcavalier

    Steve – very interested in your interpretation of the Crow and the Wolf, as you imply that they are actually “meaty” Conquest and “ravishing” Famine. I totally missed that connection. My take was that Death has struck out on his own (as indicated at the beginning of the book) leaving a re-born Conquest, Famine, and War to deal with the apocalypse. The Crow and the Wolf, at least in the way I read it, are Death’s new business partners as part of his still unclear revenge scheme. What a great book, though. I might start to sync up my “Manhattan Projects” with “East of West” and have “Hickman Nights”! Cheers. MPCav

  3. Will

    Another great review Steve and thanks for sharing the personal moment with your father; I can only imagine what kind of impression that left on you.

    I have not (yet!) read Hickman’s Marvel work but have read most of his creator owned projects. I have loved The Manhattan Projects and in many ways East of West seems like a true progression from MP. East of West is far grander in scope than MP (which is saying something!) and replaces the Four Horsemen for the Mad Scientists as the forces seeking to reshape and control the world.

    Hickman has built an incredible world in just one issue and Nick Dragotta’s art works so well at showing extreme emotion both on faces and in landscapes. I’m definitely looking forward to devouring this series, and jumping into reading Hickman’s Marvel work.

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