While last month reminded me why I love “East of West” this month reminds me why reading this book is sometimes a laborious task. The world building doesn’t come easy, and all too often Hickman forgets to put a character at the core of the story. Although the world itself can be considered the most vital character of this series, it like all the others is far too bogged down by the political machinations at play.
I often have a hard time discerning the story of this comic. At times it feels like the narrative belongs to Death and his unyielding quest for his own doomspawn. Then Hickman will spend entire months with that story shelved in order to tell a larger political story reeling from the events of the first few chapters.
Yet, Game of Thrones this is not. There is no powerplay for wealth, gain, or control. Instead it is a lot of talk about the world, and philosophical musings on power where no real power has been demonstrated. Mind you it all remains interesting… to a degree but just feels weighed down by its own depth.
It’s hard to fault a book for depth, but its accessibility that is the real problem here. The book doesn’t concern itself for with clear character motivations, unless I’m really missing something. Contrary to how it may sound, I’m even into some of the ambiguity, as long as its heading somewhere.
Yet, for me every time this book really feels like its gaining traction is when it spends time with Death. Anything else feels like a detour that isn’t paced very well. Instead I’d love to see more of a balancing act rather than the issue on/issue off type of plot balancing being used here. It’s distracting and difficult to remain invested.
Nick Dragotta again does a wonderful job and demonstrating the massive scope of this world. Monolithic structures are dotted across every page, but what’s more are the insane angles and use of space on display. He is always able to communicate the insanely large and complex nature of this world with beautifully simple panels that rely on extreme long shots. I couldn’t be happier with his work here.
“East of West” have been running for almost a year, and for me still struggles to find it’s narrative footing. I keep holding out hope that the series will slip into a more defined kind of storytelling, but instead it seems content carrying on with the current status quo, as it stands I can hardly recommend the book in the monthly format, because the story is hard to follow when spread out over several months at a time. With the help of the collected trades the story is sure to read with a little more coherence and solve many of the pacing issues I’ve found in my month-to-month reading.
Rating: 2.5/5 Skulls.