Published on February 4th, 2015 | by JCDoyle0
East of West #17 – Review
One of the central themes of Jonathan Hickman’s East of West is the relationships between seemingly opposed people and their ideas. In the latest issue he focuses directly on this concept and investigates the interaction between a selection of different family members.
The first is set in the Black Tower and is a slightly frosty reunion between an uncle and his niece: the President and his newly appointed Chief of Staff. The President by passes his nephews and appoints Constance to a high position within his government, partly because of his contempt for his nephews but also because he believes he would have more control over the ‘thankful’ niece. This proves not to be the case, Constance is a much sharper tack than he gave her credit for and when she comes to talk to him she shows just how much she understands the Presidents motives. She has his number and he knows it.
Elsewhere in The Kingdom, a father speaks to his son through a third party, expressing concern over John One’s strangle hold on the ‘people’. John One wants more leeway, more power but his father believes that he is pushing too far. Below them, John Four is showing off his prowess on the firing range. He attempts to put John One down, challenging his brother to better his result but this is a challenge One can rise to with style and finesse.
And finally, Death sits down with his wife for a spot of dinner. She wants to know why he has not returned her son and he wants to let her know of his concerns about what the Nation has done to their child. The feast ends romantically with a reminder of The Message:
“A Lotus, the death and resurrection of love. A fire that burned and could have lasted forever…but did not.”
What Hickman is doing with this issue is to remind the reader that, despite the vastness of the world in which it’s set, this is a very personal story fuelled by the emotions of a small number of people. Unfortunately for the world (and fortunately for the reader) these few people are all in positions of power in one form or another. They all control the lives of thousands, if not millions of people but they are only obsessed by their own problems and short comings.
I think it’s well recognised now that Hickman plays the long game: like the President in his Black Tower playing chess with the people of the world. The story is told in terms of years not months and this could be off putting. However Hickman works with artists who keep the readers interested by producing outstanding imagery. Although the greater narrative may be slow going, each issue is imbued with its own, artistic narrative. Nick Dragotta’s composition and lighting breathes life into the text heavy script. And there is always one stand out scene: this issue it’s the sequence between Death and Lady Mao where they renew their physical relationship. Outside of the tent, a couple of warriors wrestle physically for the entertainment of others while inside the tent an emotional struggle ensues and it’s not clear who the winner is.
East of West is not an easy title to jump into. You are constantly reminded of past incidents that bear relevance on the current situation but it’s worth the effort. Long-time readers will not be giving up anytime soon but new readers should give this a go and, if you like the cinematic, epic style, then you will enjoy the Trades that are currently available.
Title: East of West
Publisher: Image Comics
Writer: Jonathan Hickman
Artist: Nick Dragotta
Colourist: Frank Martin