Group Review: East of West #2

With so many great new titles coming out this year it's difficult to grasp how popular a title truly is based off of one review alone. That's why we love group reviews because it gives you the oppurtunity to see what all of the writer's at Comic Bastards think about a series or issue. Today we've got East of West #2; we actually presented our first big group review with the first issue and it seems that several of the writer's had more to say. They'll each score it with a Buy, Borrow or Pass so check it out and enjoy.

Following the high crimes in the debut issue of EAST OF WEST, the fallout spreads across the broken nations of America. Forces align to stave off the apocalypse, while equally powerful ones do everything they can to bring it to pass.

One of the most exciting new books of the year, this is EAST OF WEST, a brand new, ongoing, monthly comic from the award-winning team of Marvel's FF, JONATHAN HICKMAN and NICK DRAGOTTA.

Samantha: Buy

I was a little confused as to what was going on in the first issue but now I am utterly confused. Did I mention that my confusion has led to my addiction of this series though? These kids, who are the Four Horsemen, are on a killing spree. I have no hope that humans will make it out of this plot. They seem to have no power to ever withstand these children. I am very curious to see what “The Message” is too. It is crazy to think that Death doesn’t even what “The Message” is. It has to be something religious though because so many words in this comic are trigger words for religious ideas. Some sort of prophecy for how the world should end. Thoughts? Andrew Archibal Chamberlain made me think of Colonel Sanders so at some points I thought he would put in a plug for fried chicken. Anyway there was my ramble for the day, what Chamberlin reveals about Death’s past only makes me more curious to see how Death’s character will adjust. At first I thought one of the kids may feel compassion but now it looks like Death may make a turn to the bright side.

Ed: Buy

East of West is the product of creators who understand their craft very well and have a clear sense of what they want this comic to be. With Nick Dragotta’s flowing art and Frank Martin’s burnt and brooding colors there’s a unique look to the comic, helped along by Jonathan Hickman’s graphic design. I like the simple layouts, with every page made up of rectangular panels that allow the stellar artwork to speak for itself. Hickman’s script is cleverly balanced and moves along at a fair pace, allowing for character introductions, plot progression, some foreshadowing of future events and a surprise or two along the way. I was pleased to see the omniscient narrator which was present for much of the first issue has gone, no longer needed to introduce us to this world. 

While Hickman’s story seems to resist the notion of ‘good vs evil’ (or even ‘life vs death’), with no sympathetic characters and all the major players intent on causing death or exploiting their power, there does appear to be two opposing factions forming. On the one hand is those who seek to bring about a religiously predestined apocalypse, while on the other is those with more earthly motivations. These contrasting positions are mirrored in the use of strongly contrasting colors throughout - white against black, orange against blue, red against blue, and orange against grey - and there’s also a clever seeding of symbols for readers to interpret too (but I think it’s only fair if we leave that part up to them).

I didn’t enjoy this issue as much as the first, simply because it packed less of a cathartic punch, but with such unusual concepts driving the story and excellent artwork it’s still a worthy read. I couldn’t help but raise my eyebrows at Hickman’s cliff-hanger revelation on the final page - well played sir.

Steve: Buy

I’m really enjoying the mythos-building in this book so far. I love the visually-binary nature of Death and his powwow posse, the sickly methodical les enfants terribles of the apocalypse and the tenuous peace held together by the few remaining outposts of influence within humanity’s tenuous and corrupt governments. The writing is everything you will have come to expect from Hickman - ethereal overall, but grounded within some key characters - while the art (particularly of the unique architecture and feel of the world) is able to cradle Hickman’s runaway trains of thought nicely. There’s a pretty big reveal at the end that draws me forward, but to be honest, I’m interested in seeing every one of these plot points play out.

Jordan: Buy

East of West continues to be a wild ride, while not quite as high-octane as issue #1 the second installment in the story manages to be just as compelling and chock full of WTFery. I think the reason that the story manages its intrigue so well is that it is an epic story full of epic off the wall lore and is delivering it, however strange, with utmost confidence. It’s like watching Star Wars for the first time, things looked vaguely the same to our own world, but there was so much that was foreign, so much that was bizarre, and it felt like it all existed far before you and you were just along for the ride. We couldn’t look away. Just when I feel I know vaguely what things may be about here something ridiculous happens. In the first few panels of this book a host of prepubescent gods execute a good portion of The American government. It’s this kind of unpredictability that makes you want to return.

The gigantic narrative, the ever growing cast of zany characters, the vibrant colors and the kooky melting pot of genres all make East of West a book I can’t wait to sink into the next issue of.

Sergio: Buy

There's so much going on in East of West that some may find it overwhelming. So far more questions have been presented then answered but this isn't my first time at the Jonathan Hickman Rodeo so I understood what to expect coming in. Only two issues in and we now understand that something was taken from death and now he wants his revenge. After killing the president, the other three horsemen, death's siblings, have gone on somewhat of a massacre and slaughtered the chain of command starting with the Vice President until they find someone who they found fitting enough to join the ranks of, "The Message", a group of leaders brought together by the goal of seeing to the end of the world.

Nick Dragotta's art is something of a masterpiece for this series. Every panel seems to jump right off the page and almost feels like I am seeing still images of an amazing sci-fi movie and not reading a comic book. Frank Mattin's colors bring everything together. The use of red, blues, and shades of yellow bring the mostly dark land scrape to life.

Although the story has been slow moving you can tell that it's about to pick up with the next few issues by the way this issue ended. If you already own issue one then I suggest that you pick up this issue and at least finish out the first story arc in single issues. If you don't have the patience for waiting it out month by month then just wait for the trade so you have a longer story to read. Either way you choose to collect make sure that you read this book.

Once again the “Buys” have it, so if you missed it… better head back to the comic shop!

Writer: Jonathan Hickman

Artist: Nick Dragotta

Publisher: Image Comics

Price: $3.50

Release Date: 4/24/13