Written by Jonathan Hickman
Drawn by Nick Dragotta
Colors by Frank Martin
Letters by Rus Wooton
It is always a joy to see a new issue of East of West. Hickman's tale of the end of an alternate world is both somewhat unique in its setting, but also familiar. The issue begins with the leader of the Union begging for help to put down a revolution run by young people, not fully understanding the full extent to which she is being used and manipulated, all the while celebrating a job well done, so it hits a bit closer to home than normal, you know?
This issue is a bit of a departure from our regularly ongoing story. Other than a scene involving Antoina LeVay and Archibald Chamberlain at the beginning, it mainly focuses on a group rebelling against LeVay's rule in the Union. It is something we've seen mentioned here and there, but we haven't really focused on the people living the day-to-day grind in the country and how much it sucks.
It actually ends up feeling a lot like the Train Job episode of Firefly, which makes sense because both are East/West fusions with more advanced tech. I'm actually a little surprised that it took Hickman 31 issues to get to the train heist, considering it is one of the most well-known western tropes.
It's a well constructed plot. The group puts the plan into action, thanks to some helpful information from their mysterious benefactor (hmm, I wonder who that could be?) and it goes off without a hitch, and ends with a bang, literally. It's a little light on the dialogue, but Hickman still manages to put in some really nice lines, like basically everything Chamberlain says. Luckily, Hickman knows when to step out of the way and allow artist Nick Dragotta to shine.
The art, as always, is really, really good. Dragotta is an expert at drawing facial expressions. The ending wouldn't work as well as it does for me if not for LeVay's face, which makes the whole thing so much more satisfying. Other than the flying train, there isn't a whole lot of new tech for Dragotta to draw, so we miss out on that. His gorgeous displays of scenery are on display, aided by the color work of Frank Martin, who uses a more muted palette when dealing with scenes set in the past, and bright colors that help make the action pop the rest of the issue.
It helps that this stands on its own a bit more than the typical issue of East of West. I could happily hand this issue to someone who had not read anything from the series before and am confident they would be able to keep up, and hopefully would be interested enough in the things they did not understand to seek out more issues. If that's not a sign of a well-written book, then I'm not sure what it.