East of West #1 Review
By: Rob Neil Gruszecki
Upon the final days of creation it is said that riding on steeds of red, black, white and pale, Apocalypse will trudge forward in the act of final judgement. As Conquest, War and Famine are reborn in new childlike forms the ground beneath their feet trembles with the expulsion of harbingers of the end times, however only three stand awaiting the presence of the final. One who is prophesied to be followed by Hell in his wake and with his arrival the story of the world’s end will begin.
You have earned what is coming to you
The brand new ongoing East of West by Jonathan Hickman (Manhattan Projects, Avengers, New Avengers, FF) and Nick Dragotta (FF, X-Statix, Captain America) sets three Horsemen on a search for their fourth to kill him “and then the world can follow”. However the brother they seek is not exactly a ‘man with no name’ as he bounds about Earth with many monikers. Pale and ghostly, his presence evokes terror from all and an eternal understanding that you can never escape him, Abaddon, The Reaper, Fool’s Bane, The Grey Walker, or simply the constantly impending Death.
In a new imagining of America, Hickman sets forth to tell a truly epic tale that is a mash of Sergio Leone’s western classics, Philip K Dick’s alternative universe, speculative fiction and the book of Revelations. After the ‘Third Great Awakening’ a series of events, starting with the civil war, set in motion a split in America’s geography and technological progression that produce a new eight quadrant land of the free and spawn a wild west, dystopian hybrid of unique and incredible design. What mankind makes is a broken world where repair is an unattainable hope and prayer a useless waste of breath.
Since the start of his career only a few years ago Jonathan Hickman has produced, in my opinion, the most important and incredible works in the past decade. With books like the Nightly News, Pax Romana, The Red Wing, Transhuman and Red Mass for Mars he proved that his skill as a science fiction writer, creative spirit and output was on a par with some of the masters of the genre, in and outside of comics. Onto his work at Marvel he wrote SHEILD, Secret Warriors and eventually redefined the first family with one of the most heartbreaking, sincere, clever, expansive, beautiful and poetic runs on the Fantastic Four and FF. His script work is inspiring, hopeful and entertaining as all hell. High-concept, heavy-minded literature finds itself nestled in every page I’ve read from the creator and East of West is simply another vein of gold from possibly the best writer in comics today.
On pencils are Nick Dragotta, a veteran of Hickman’s FF run, and his designs throughout the first issue are a stroke of genius. Anti-heroes and villains galore grace each panel and they all scream ‘badass’. The look and design of the book from the early pages where three children are birthed in blood and gravel amongst ancient celestial pillars, to a typical throwdown in a saloon, to a new castle of political power demonstrate an incredible versatility and produce a fully realized, extraordinary world. The style of Dragotta is charming but also visceral and simply envelops you in a world in the midst of apocalypse.
Hitting every possible beat that would captivate any comic reader I can honestly say that this book is a must-read. What promises to be a series on a grand scope, East of West offers violent, exciting, dramatic, witty, frightening and thrilling concepts and characters that bleed ‘cool’.
Rob Gruszecki is a writer, musician and Wednesday warrior
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