After the last few issues spent most of their time fleshing out supporting characters, with this 10th instalment of East Of West, Jonathan Hickman moves the focus back onto the central character of Death with predictably violent results. And even though the spotlight is back on Death, there is still room for us to find out more about both his son, and his mysterious travelling companion Wolf.
The action picks up deep underground, where The Oracle has taken one of Death’s eyes in exchange for information about his son’s whereabouts. Only she’s tricked Death, she can’t actually tell him where his son is, only point him to the location of someone else who can, and that location is ‘Heetse’isi’ which means ‘The Grave’. Death is understandably pissed off, and storms out. The Oracle claims that Death will return to her in the future, and when that happens, he’ll give her freedom, but it will cost him a lot more than an eye. So now not only has Hickman got a load of mystery about the present… there’s teases for an epic future too. Death, Wolf and Crow head to The Grave, which is a place where Native Americans who have been cast out of their society go. Wolf has been there before, and in fact, it is his Father’s domain, and it’s him who they need to see. Wolf and Crow are scared, but Death says they ride on, in an awesome close-up of his face, complete with new eye-patch. If you thought this character was scary looking before, the patch adds a whole other level of bad-ass.
The only scene set away from Death in this issue focuses on his son, ‘The Beast’ as we see the 3 Horsemen visit his prison and check up on his training, trying to work out if he really is what ‘The Message’ claims. It seems that there has been a divergence from that prophecy, and that there is some doubt, so they decide not to do anything with him yet, and head off to check on some ‘hunches’, before they kill him or not. Once the 3 Horsemen leave, The Beast stops pretending to be a blank robot under control of the machines hooked up to him, and asks it to start telling him more useful, practical information about weapons such as… Nuclear Bombs. Man, this kid is creepy, I’m not sure I want Death to save him.
When Death and his gang come across Wolf’s father, he turns out to be Cheveyo, the Native American member of the Council or whatever it’s called. He refuses to disclose The Beast’s location, and instead turns into a giant Demon Bear/Bull/Skeleton Monster, and we get one of the best action setpieces this book has had so far. Nick Dragotta’s always awesome art goes into overdrive here for sure. In the end, Wolf stabs his father’s Demon Form with a bit of his own tooth, causing him to revert to human. In a brief flashback insert, we see that Wolf was childhood friends with John Freeman, who was also trained by Cheveyo, so that’s another tantalising bit for the future, I imagine we’ll see a pretty crazy fight between those two ‘brothers’. Cheveyo then agrees to tell Death about his son’s location, but before he can… his head is blown off. Who by? Well, it’s the Texas Ranger! Yep, just when you’d forgotten about that character and his role in things, he returns with a big fucking impact and using is robot-dog as a sniper rifle.
This was another excellent issue of a fascinating series, as I said, Dragotta’s art was fantastic, and the story just gets more and more interesting on all fronts. There are so many things going on, so many characters and mysteries in the past, present and future, that it really is a truly unique, epic series.