“East of West” takes another step in the right direction. The world begins to rebuild after the events of the first few issues. Death is on a quest to retrieve what was taken from him, and the President ensures nothing will be taken from the people ever again. Hickman and Dragotta go the extra mile to show just how the world has reeled from the events of the first arc and how nothing will ever be the same going forward.
I often forget that “East of West” is for better or worse: a western. The story sometimes wanders, the characters sometimes meander, and we only scratch the surface of the world. However, the dynamic at play is one that is larger than all of that, it’s the interplay of good and evil and how we react to it. Like any good Western it really boils down to something that simple.
With that in mind, Hickman pushes into the eighth chapter with even more focus. A new president is elected, and Death seems to be more driven. The new president is quickly established as a formidable opponent who will not back down quite so easily. As she would have to be, given the way the last president went out. Death and his team have found a person that they hope will lead them to what they seek, but it’s unclear if the path will get any easier.
Dragotta’s art is still wonderfully in sync with Hickman’s massive script. As Death descends into the labyrinthine chamber holding what he seeks most, you’ll marvel at Dargotta’s clean paneling and structure. The entire sequence reminded me of the best MC Esher paintings although not quite as trippy.
Dragotta also spends a lot of time making the new president a force to be reckoned with. His depiction of her is formidable,. Her face wears the burden of her power with a thin veil. She’s going to make the world pay for what happened to it, but through paying she will structure them into a force that will oppose and vanquish Death. Make no mistake.
So again, the slow plod of the narrative continues. Albeit much more interesting than some other chapters. This is a terribly difficult book to review on a month-to-month basis, as the narrative always feels larger than the issue that houses it. It may be a symptom of longer form comic book storytelling. There are not really clear arcs, and there has been little in the way of resolution so far.
However, the book continues to impress. The creation of the world alone is something to marvel at. Dragotta’s artwork is meant to be with Hickman’s words. There is something prophetic about this book that you won’t find much anywhere else. So again I find myself recommending it, but only if you have the patience of a saint.
Rating: 3.5/5 Skulls
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