East of West #29 Review
Writer: Jonathan Hickman
Artist: Nick Dragotta
Colours: Frank Martin
Publisher: Image Comics
Release Date: September 7th, 2016
We have come a long way since East of West #1. In the two years worth of pre-apocalypse we have seen major power shifts in the 7 Nations and we have seen “The Word” come to flourish as it had been written, however we have seen that “The Word” can be bent and formed to the wants of powers that be. Babylon, the most interesting character in my opinion, up to this point has been shown a false reality through the eyes of his symbiotic companion Balloon. This is all one elaborate set-up between Babylon’s captors and the followers of “The Word” attempting to sway the apocalypse to their wants and wills. The most recent issues feature Babylon riding through the wilderness with Balloon navigating the real world for the first time in Babylon’s life as they face certain dangers and how Babylon deals with things is really interesting. We have also seen Death riding alone in his search for his son Babylon and things have only gotten more hostile between all nations at the last big meeting of the nations. This is a milestone issue for readers of East of West and we see lots of really cool things in this book as it wraps up Year Two.
After all that we have seen leading to this point, the mercenary assassin troop searching the wilderness for Babylon seem to have found him before his father could. This is Babylon’s first real encounter with a genuinely lethal and hostile force and us readers can only wonder how Babylon will fare in this deadly encounter. Babylon gets a good read on them with this really annoying Billy guy talking his head off at the lead, but he gets his Balloon to launch him up into the sky like a helicopter. Babylon throws a spear seemingly missing any target whatsoever but knocks a boulder loose that ends squishing and effectively killing the silent mysterious assassin below. Before landing on a cliff, Babylon is faced with Billy shooting his guns at him which enticed Babylon’s newfound boar friend ‘Mr.Tusk’ to ram him in the stomach piercing Billy’s organs marking the end of Ol’ Billy.
Then the android assassin of ‘The Remnant’ following gets the drop on Babylon with a gun aimed right at the back of his head but Balloon being an artificial intelligence begins talking to him and fuses to his face for a moment showing us the twisted operation that turned a helpless follower into an android monster. Balloon then frees the soul from its suffering at the hands of the AI part of his Remnant self by frying its mind effectively killing him. Thinking everything is safe, Billy shows up not quite dead yet and almost kills Babylon before out of nowhere Babylon is saved by his father, Death!
Babylon is facing his father Death for the first time, without the knowledge that he is in fact his father. Balloon seems to have decided not to skew his face or appearance for Babylon as he has with all the horsemen of the apocalypse or the assassins in which he has just faced in battle. Death informs his son that he is there to rescue him and Balloon seems to let welcome this unforeseen variable in his mysterious plans/programming. This is when we get some fantastic splash pages and a beautiful page where we see Death riding into the sunset on his laser-horse with his son Babylon and Balloon riding Mr.Tusk beside him, father & son together at last after being separated for so long and for so many still mysterious reasons.
There is then an epilogue where we see the place of resurrection for the horsemen as they are now being healed and evolving in the middle of nowhere (after their encounter with Babylon), awakening to the sight of their now skeleton henchman laying in the middle of them and their wagon still parked. This is interesting as the horseman are now back and stronger than before which should be interesting in future issues of East of West.
Jonathan Hickman proves that he is in this story for the long run. A lot will happen from here on out and it has all culminated towards this issue. There are still many story threads to pull on and I for one as a long time reader of this series am excited for them to dive into moving forward into Year Three. Nick Dragotta consistently does stellar art work and with Frank Martin doing a wide range of colours for this expansive sci-fi western story, this issue holds up as some of the best. The panel work was pretty standard with this issue but it keeps everything looking sharp and together in a uniform package of pure delight. I hope that East of West is not on hiatus for too long and I am stoked to see what Year Three has in store for us and East of West is by far one of my most favourite books on my pull list.
This is a perfect time for new readers to jump in as we are going to get a whole new story arc with the next issue and East of West has been known to put out beautiful hardcover collections of entire years of their story. While I own each single issue of East of West, I am always tempted to buy the Year One hardcover compendium anytime I see it at my local comic shop. READ EAST OF WEST TODAY!
~ T.J Head