Published on October 14th, 2015 | by JCDoyle0
East Of West #21 Review
The seeds of War have been sown and the shoots are starting to show in the latest chapter of Jonathan Hickman’s Apocalyptic epic.
It starts with a juxtaposition of ‘Love’ and ‘War’ and shows how the manipulation of one can influence the other. Doma has become a pawn in the game between the Nations and despite her confidence it would appear that she is out of her depth and clueless to what is really going on. The pre-credits sequence this month has an incessant tapping to accompany the secret dialogue and this is cleverly illustrated with broken text spread across each of the panels. The repeated tap, tap is like the ticking of a clock counting down, building the intensity within the scene. Sly looks between the characters and constant close ups help to build the pressure so that when it finally explodes it’s almost a physical shock for the reader which is then followed by a panel of grotesque horror. All of this is bookended with the intimate relationship that Doma is in and the erotic lighting of these panels is a stark contrast to the greys of the drool meeting and the blood red of the death images.
All of this makes the opening of this issue superb, proof that Hickman can still write a compelling comic. Unfortunately some of this is lost over the next few pages as another meeting, this time with a deep blue backdrop, unfolds rather like every other dull meeting of the Nations. This meeting is nothing more than set up for Narsimha to go walk about in the land of the Dead. The final third of this issue recaptures the opening in style and pace and builds up to another act of violence. The design of the machines and the characters is wonderful and makes me wonder how much these guys have been influenced by the work of Frank Herbert? There is an element of Dune about the style and pacing of East of West and one that is enjoyable, if you like your sci-fi deeply political.
Hickman has been a bit hit and miss with some of his work in the last couple of years, leaving long gaps between issues been the greatest miss, but his standard of writing for East of West is always at the upper end of his ability. Whereas the Marvel event story Secret Wars is slowly drifting from its brilliant beginning into something less than farcical, East of West maintains, if not exceeds, the brilliance of its beginning. Even when dubious moments make their appearance, such as meeting number two in this issue, the art work lifts the quality of pages up. I have yet to see a bad panel by Nick Dragotta in this title.
The story marches ever on to War and the creators of this comic make sure that the reader’s journey is always worthwhile.
Title: East of West
Publisher: Image Comics
Writer: Jonathan Hickman
Artist: Nick Dragotta
Colours: Frank Martin
Letters: Rus Wooton