Published on December 3rd, 2015 | by JCDoyle0
East Of West #22 Review
When a creator owned comic runs for long enough, especially when you have confident artists/writers working on it, it will eventually reach a ‘concept’ issue and that’s what you get from this month’s East of West. This month silence is golden and, in the hands of Jonathan Hickman and Nick Dragotta, ‘golden’ is definitely the word for it.
The simple story revolves around an assassination attempt on Mao Xiaolian. A group of armoured unknowns sneak into the citadel and murder their way to Mao’s inner chamber where they come face to face with Death’s ex. All of this with no speech or sound of any kind.
Sometimes it can be difficult to review an ongoing comic; there’s only so many ways to say that the comic is good, or bad, especially if each issue is of the same standard as before. But of course there is always a way to make readers sit up and pay attention again; guest artists; out of arc standalone stories; crossovers; or, in Hickman/Dragotta’s case, produce a stunning work of art. There are illustrious depictions of stealth and speed, subtle moments of pause and one truly kick ass scene of uber violence.
Okay, the assassin’s find Mao in the bath, naked as the day she was born which could cause some worry but this situation isn’t dealt with coyly, there isn’t any school boy tittering to be heard over these pages. In fact her nakedness allows the character to move in ways that serve her situation, unlike the bulky, stealth costumes her assassins wear that ultimately hold back their abilities in such an uneven fight. The way that Dragotta handles this fight scene is magnificent and it has such a powerful energy to it. The movements flow from one panel to the next forcing the reader to flip from page to page eager to battle through the bloodletting and get to a moment of calm. The silence deepens the trauma because there’s no distraction there; you are forced to witness the violence and desperation in the emptiness left by the lack of script.
The splash page of Mao at the end of her fight is haunting, soaked in red and black, but there is also an unquestionable beauty to the character that makes you understand why Death was attracted to her in the first place. Beneath the arm wrenching, disembowelling and blood splattering violence there is a subtle character dissection happening. Hickman is showing the reader exactly who Mao is and what you can expect from her. He is portraying her strength physically and emotionally. Mao is a force to be reckoned with so Gods help the Seven Nations.
Occasionally Hickman’s scripts can feel a little rushed, as if he needs to finish the issue to concentrate on a different comic, and with East of West there are months where you just want to skip ahead, get to the exciting parts of the story but not this month. This months offering is an outstanding example of what you can do in the comic book medium. It will take your breath away. And speech or no speech, this issue screams out about the talent behind this comic.
Title: East of West
Publisher: Image Comics
Writer: Jonathan Hickman
Artist: Nick Dragotta
Colours: Frank Martin
Letters: Rus Wooton