East of West #10
By Jonathan Hickman, Nick Dragotta & Frank Martin
East of West has, if anything, been one wild ride so far. At times this series absolutely blows us away, while sometimes it just downright confuses us! Even the confusion is really part of the fun though; typical fare for a Jonathan Hickman story at this point. This month we finally get issue #10 which may have been the best installment since the very first book in the series.
This story is always full of weird and interesting things happening, but a few issues in the past have been relatively lacking in overall plot development. This recently took a turn in the right direction and we see this epic tale really dive right back into its previous pace this month. The latest installment was full of interesting plot developments and some intriguing character developments as well. The dark, grim tone of this book is on full display here, and Death’s sullen determination fits right in. The interactions with Wolf, his father, and Crow were also spectacular, and the scenes featuring The Beast were hauntingly effective. It will be very interesting to see what happens with this imprisoned child-monster in future issues. Hickman’s dialogue is always very intelligently written and the writing in East of West #10 was no exception, brimming with subtle depth that helps to further flesh out each character’s individual personality. There was also a lot more action than we’ve seen recently which was a great addition to this issue.
Like the story itself, the artwork by Nick Dragotta and Frank Martin is among the best in the series so far. The tone of each scene is perfectly conveyed through the visuals while the overall character and environment designs remain incredibly interesting and creative. The facial expressions in this book can be quite chilling, and Death’s burning rage is palpable in each panel. There is a ton of attention to detail throughout this book in both the illustrations themselves and the deep, vibrant colors. Dragotta’s action sequences here are particularly powerful, while Martin’s colors bring a lot of life to the page. The more surreal, supernatural elements featured this month are especially fantastic. Finally, it has to be noted that the designs for Death’s companions, Wolf and Crow, are astonishing. True, they both look terrific in human form, but it always looks incredible when they morph into their respective groups of wolves and crows. These moments in issue #10 are among the coolest to feature these shape-changes and the artists use these character abilities to great effect.
Admittedly, the ending of this issue felt somewhat confusing, at least at first. However, brief moments of this are to be expected in a book like East of West. Overall, this was one of the finest issues in the whole series up to this point. This latest installment really had everything from terrific story development, interesting character interactions, exciting action, and the usual dose of horror and mysterious intrigue.