By Jonathan Hickman, Nick Dragotta & Frank Martin
Jonathan Hickman’s scifi-western tale, East of West, has been phenomenally successful since it first started. While the last few issues have been a bit of a side trek, the latest installment really starts to move the story forward again.
Death and his allies have arrived at some strange, non-descript location where the central character is seeking important information. There’s always something deep about Death’s dialogue and the interactions with his companions in issue #8 felt very intelligently written; the character of Death, while cloaked in mystery and quite an obscured overall backstory, really has a lot of depth that helps carry this latest installment back to the style that was missed with Death mostly out of the picture for a few months. Just what the heck the protagonist is meeting with is another story. Like most aspects of East of West, this interaction proved similarly cryptic. This issue also largely focused on the new president of the Republic, raging bitch that she is. There is currently growing dissent in her nation which she begins to quell at the behest of the horsemen themselves. You can really sense her evil which has an increasingly ‘Empire’ feel to it.
Nick Dragotta and Frank Martin make an excellent artistic team in this series and really help bring the story to life. Every panel in East of West #8 was incredibly vibrant and detailed. The sprawling futuristic city-scapes, the bizarre towers traversed by Death, everything just looks epic in tone. As always, the characters drawn by Dragotta are wonderfully detailed and very creative with impressively consistent illustrations. Martin adds a lot of life to each page with some particularly lush tones. The lighting effects and environmental detail provided by both artists really enhance the epic feel of this issue, while the panels depicting conversation between the new president and the horsemen looked great drenched in minimalist shades of red.
After eight issues, there’s still really no telling where this story will go. Despite the consistently enigmatic nature of East of West, the ride has been terrific so far. Each issue offers something interesting and different. It’s great to see the overall focus of the story shift back to the central players, and the artists involved again provide some high quality visuals to accompany this awesome story. It’s been a good year for Jonathan Hickman, and this series must be at the top of his accomplishments for 2013! If you’re not yet reading this bizarrely intriguing tale of futuristic, supernatural revenge and mystery, then catch up on the good reads with the rest of us; this is fresh storytelling at its finest.