Once again I get the amazing task of getting to review my current favorite comic creator’s work. I’ve stated it before, but I’m a bit of a Jonathan Hickman fan boy, and if you can deal with it long enough to read this review, then I commend you. That being said, East of West #7 has come out and I am excited to delve further into the expansive world Hickman has created.
This issue takes the liberty of finally explaining a little more of the backstory of this whole infernal world. We are treated to flashbacks of the horsemen in another apocalypse/world changing time on the same planet it seems. Death and the rest of the horsemen are decreeing their righteous and unholy judgment upon the weak religious sheep of the world. During this slaughter, there are some lines of dialogue that caught me that I truly loved that said, “They can’t help themselves…these humans. They want something to worship, something to believe in…and if they can’t find it they’ll manufacture it. It’s what they do…” It resonates a great deal how we as humans have gone through life since our own mysterious creation, creating one belief after another, and for what? (Scientology anyone?) These lines of dialogue are gently dispersed between panels of elegant death and chaos from the horsemen, killing all the fanatically religious in their path. It would make any religious cult mass suicide look like a vacation in paradise. So, with that in mind, less about philosophical religious ideals and back to my original point about this issue.
This issue interweaves between a shared past memory of the unified horsemen in all their unholy glory and the present where 2 separate stories are taking place, one with Death separated, ostracized and hunted by the rest of the reborn horsemen and one with the horsemen who are still seeking the end of times and the end of death. But the real question is, can the horsemen truly function or inflict their deceptive plans without him? Death has been searching for his son, long thought to have been killed, and answers to his mysterious whereabouts. He is consumed by this task to appease his love and to get her back. As we saw in a previous issue, Death’s son is alive and being kept in secret and what looks like experimented on, or being kept possibly as a failsafe, or an even worse case scenario, a weapon against Death. All of these moments have just been building onto the mystery of the maniacal end scenario the horsemen with the “help” of their human puppets, have orchestrated with ease. Where this leads to is unknown, but I like to think all roads lead to death.
I really enjoyed how much this issue built onto the history of the badlands and this whole world Hickman has built, it’s futuristic and gritty western rolled up into one sci-fi apocalyptic menagerie of mother fucking awesome. With this only being the 7th issue of the series I can only imagine what Hickman has planned and how long this series will run for. Hickman’s best stuff has always come from giving him the extensive creative freedom to build and write his stories, I can only imagine how much MORE awesome Red Mass for Mars and the rest of his early work could have been if he was able to write it for 10, 20 or even 50 issues.
But alas, we have Hickman’s current work to entrance our senses, and, frankly, he’s been doing a damn good job these past 2 years (as well as his early work) of keeping comics fresh and exciting, East of West is no exception.
The art on this comic is a previous collaborator of Hickman’s, Nick Dragotta, who did some fantastic work with him on FF and Fantastic Four. Not to talk too much about Fantastic Four, but I loved Dragotta’s rendition of Black Bolt during the series.
With East of West, seeing Dragotta give visual life to all these futuristic machinations can be quite overwhelming sometimes. The scenery and buildings always feel monolithic and oppressive while the vast landscapes of desert seem void and endless. The whole world feels very spread apart and like nothing is close together. The characters are all visually unique and also colored in such a way to differentiate. The horsemen especially are Red, Green and Blue, while Death is a ghastly white visage of doom and despair.
In this issue there is an amazing full page of the horsemen in action, butchering “innocents” off page. Some panels of interest were the endless spiral staircase and an opening page panel where Death and the rest of the horsemen are entrenched upon these mechanical behemoth looking horses and are ready to slaughter everyone (see the banner image). Its truly a sight. Dragotta has done a lot of boundary pushing work with this comic and I always look forward to what he brings to every issue. That’s all for now…Pilgrims.