East of West 11 – 15
Writer: Jonathan Hickman
Art: Nick Dragotta
Colours: Frank Martin
Publisher: Image Comics
Released: April 9, 2014 – September 10, 2014
East of West is hands down, one of the best graphic novel series that I have been following. I had not been following very many series of comics at the time that I first discovered East of West. At the time I was reading a lot of omnibus and collected editions of series such as Batman Vol.1 – Vol.3 (New 52), Thunderbolts (Marvel NOW!), Cable vs. Deadpool, and as you can see I was sticking to DC comics and Marvel comics mostly. While buying Avengers Arena, the well informed clerk at Chapters recommended me Volume 1 of East of West as it had just come out as a collected volume. I picked it up on a whim and the series has ended up being my favourite series running right now.
That said, there are many base reasons to get into this series. It’s a story set in 2064 where American Civil War set the world on an alternate historical path. The world is a futuristic place with lots of interesting details to the technology of the time, sometimes involving sentient eyes, laser horses, and flying space ships. While the world portrays this dystopian future, the world also feels very old as the story, the characters and the settings all feel like an old spaghetti western. The slang of the characters in this book can be a throwback to old western movies, as well as their costumes (one character looks like an evil Mark Twain, and the main character Death resembles Clint Eastwood in Fistful of Dollars). Death is one of the 4 horsemen of the apocalypse and as it turns out the other 3 horsemen are on a mission to kill Death’s child who is hidden away, isolated in a jungle. Currently Volume 2 has been released as a collected edition and issues 11 to 15 have recently all been released comprising the rollercoaster ride of a Volume 3.
Let’s dive into Volume 3 as this is a highpoint for the series as a whole. What seemed like a fragmented story, has built up to this point where all hell breaks loose. Peace is but a prelude to war in issue 11. This issue feels very much like a prelude to an important part of the story. This issue gives a very dynamic breakdown of all 7 nations and what they are all about. You learn about all the factions that play pivotal roles in how the world is united and functions. This issue has fantastic dialogue panels, and you can almost feel the animations popping out of the panels with this issue.
Issue 12 begins rather interestingly. The issue opens up with a BDSM sort of scene where an old white man is being dominated by President LeVay’s right hand girl. This scene sets up for what you could only imagine ends in disaster. When the meeting of the nations and their talks begin, it’s easy to feel the unrest in the room. This scene presents a broader view of the universe while leading you into a climax that will change the universe as it has been known to the readers to this point. (The Endless Nation is my favourite nation. They resemble futuristic natives/indians who live very calculated lives)
In my own personal opinion, I would consider this issue 13 a “filler issue” as it does not quite progress the story much at all. Despite my opinions, this issue does provide foresight on a few various storylines and as to what will happen. The best part of this issue was the showdown between Death and the Ranger (apparently Death has sniper scopes for eyes?). This issue ends with a beautiful panel showing the Endless Nation heading off to war with their Minecraft block looking warships.
While the last issue was a bit dry, issue 14 will keep you wet. This issue is very engaging to the reader as it continues to tell you about the 3 horsemen’s journey and where they are at the moment. This issue furthers the story and shows you a moral side to the horsemen that you haven’t quite seen up to this point. This issue has lots of dynamic panels, lots of fantastic looking gore to keep you entertained, twisted art, and yet again some of the best writing I have ever read.
This final issue 15 is thee most rewarding part of this entire Volume 3 collection. You learn more about The Beast (Death’s Son) as told in the prophecies of The Chosen, and you find the 3 horsemen are hot on his trail. The dynamic action and epic scale of depth in which this issue delves, you can see how fully prepared this seemingly unprepared kid is in his escape of the horsemen. The panels that show the world through The Beast’s eyes are quite possibly my favourite panels as they are engaging for the reader. These panels are masterfully placed and timed. The final panel leaves you with a feeling that the apocalypse is now just getting under way.
This whole third volume has left me with extreme anticipation for the next issues to follow. Things will certainly be ramping up for this series from here on out…. I rate this book a 4 Horsemen of the Apocalypse out of a potential End of the World…. which means it is a must read!
~ Tyler Head