Why Aren’t You Reading This?!: East of West (Image Comics)

The comic book industry is generally dominated by major companies. Marvel and DC have the ability to advertise their books in every area of the media, giving them the lion’s share of the market. Marvel and DC, however, aren’t the only comic book companies out there. And they are definitely not the only companies producing great work. I find an independent comic series or graphic novel once a week that blows me away, that has that right combination of compelling, funny, and/or interesting story and strong expressive art that just deserves to be talked about by the whole comic community. These are the kinds of books that make me say to myself . . .

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East of West #1 Cover by Nick Dragotta

 

East of West

Every now and then I come across a new comic series that is doing something with a smattering of somewhat common comic book elements and crafting them into something ground-breaking, jaw-dropping, and utterly engaging.

East of West is one of those series.

You like Westerns? East of West has something for you.

You like epic revenge tales? East of West has something for you too.

You like supernatural horror? You like post-apocalyptic action? East of West has both of those too.

The truth is that East of West is a damn near perfect execution of genre-mashing. It should be used as a “how to” manual on the subject from here on in.

At the heart of East of West is a revenge-driven Western set in a dystopian future version of The United States of America. How dystopian? Try “divided up into colonies with a President that is a pawn of Armageddon” dystopian.

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As dystopian as that is there’s something much more daunting on the horizon: the end of the world. As the story begins it’s a work-in-progress, with the Horsemen of the Apocalypse being reborn after the unveiling of an ancient prophecy. Well, three of them. One of them seems to have already risen, leaving the fold.

The lone rider?

Death himself.

It seems that Death is looking for a little revenge on some folks who have wronged him. How have they wronged him?

If I give any more of the story away I’ll spoil it! Seriously. That’s not me just saying that teasingly. Writer Jonathan Hickman has filled the first two issues of this series with so much story, a story with so many little nuances and perfectly-interlocking pieces, that if I say too much about one thing or another it spills the beans. It’s layered yet steadily falls into place, filling in holes as need be while keeping you wondering what’s next.

That, folks, is good writing.

As for how Death has been wronged? Let’s just say that his reasons for his mission are a nice twist that melds all of the aforementioned elements together even more and really sets up an interesting narrative to come.

A really physically nasty narrative.

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While Hickman’s story is raw, visceral, and extremely engaging, the clean and emotion-laden art of Nick Dragotta grabs the ball and runs it right into the end zone. Dragotta’s sharp yet clean line work is perfectly suited for the tale unfolding . His grasp of body language, emotion, atmosphere, and perspective creates a cinematic experience unrivaled by darn near any book on the comic store shelves today. Hickman’s bleak future pops because of this, with action and conversation sharing an equal level of visual enticement for readers.

East of West is one of those books that sets the standard for independent comics. It bridges so many unique ideas into one ball of frenetic movie storytelling that will have you chomping at the bit in anticipation for the next issue.

Sound awesome? Then you should be asking yourself one question:

WHY AREN’T YOU READING THIS?!

You can pick up or order East of West at your local comic book store today!

You can buy copies of East of West here!

Pharoah Bolding

Reviewer, Columnist

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