Published on May 13th, 2015 | by JCDoyle0
East Of West #19 Review
In a nutshell, the son of Death learns why people kill. That’s it. That is what this issue of Jonathan Hickman’s East of West is all about. But don’t get me wrong, it is one of the best issues of the run so far.
Balloon, Babylon’s technological teacher, has instigated some new programming and upped the son of Death’s educational regime. This involves forcing situations where Babylon will have to kill something. There are three lessons to learn; you have to kill to eat; you have to kill to survive; you have to kill to protect your future. Needless to say Babylon rises to the challenge and after a blip at the beginning he learns with incredible speed. Unfortunately the Squirrel and the wild hog family only learn one thing; how to die.
Babylon’s reaction to the situation that Balloon puts him in questions the idea of Nature against Nurture. To start with he is nervous and even unwilling to kill as if he has a sense that what he is being asked to do is wrong. However the underlying family instincts kick in and Babylon takes to killing in such a way to make his father proud.
There are two outstanding parts to this issue. Firstly, there is the deeply philosophical script by Jonathan Hickman. There are layers within layers to the simple narrative that is on show here. Whatever level you read at, whether its surface or depth plunging, this issue will keep you occupied for a long time. I’m sure there will be dissertations written about this sometime soon.
Secondly, the artwork is superb and also as simple as the script. The two worlds of Balloon are expressed in such a simple format using a rose tinted colour wash for the world as portrayed to Babylon and a murky blue wash for the real world. I can’t say this enough: it’s so simple yet absolutely brilliantly realised.
With these long running monthly comics, especially ones written by Jonathan Hickman, it’s easy to just accept that they are good and take it for granted that they reach a high standard month on month. Sometimes it takes an extra special issue to remind us why we continue to keep these comics in our pull list and this month Jonathan Hickman, Nick Dragotta and Frank Martin have done just that. This will definitely be in the running for comic of the year come December.
Title: East of West
Publisher: Image Comics
Writer: Jonathan Hickman
Artist: Nick Dragotta
Colourist: Frank Martin