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13
4.5 out of 5 stars
East of West Volume 1: The Promise TP
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on 4 September 2014
Before I go into depth about how much I enjoyed this comic I would like to take a moment to acknowledge the many sound arguments the previous reviewer, Sam Quixote made. I picked up East of West on a whim not knowing what to expect but knew quickly that this would be a comic of much sensationalism. Quixote correctly states that popular fiction is heavily saturated with four horsemen/apocalypse scenarios and yes, given their immediately established power making them children does not add an extra edge, also the observation regarding how ridiculously overpowered Death and his witch companions are compared to an army is also correct. For these reasons and more I respect Quixote's criticisms of East of West.
That said, I still enjoyed it personally. Foremost, I found Hickman's writing to be decidedly non-linear; given that East of West is loosely based on real historical events and then creates its own present by changing certain elements and introducing new ones (1800s Western setting with futuristic technology) the plot and therefore the character's actions are governed by a timeline where past events are revealed slowly - flashbacks are used yes but even then they don't give the whole story away. There are several instances throughout this comic where I speculated as to the precise nature of a certain element and then realised that it had already been revealed in secret earlier on and I simply had not read far enough at the time to recognize it for what it was. I like this as I personally enjoy re-reading earlier pages with new understanding.
Now as for the art, again yes gun -slinging cowboys and sword-wielding Asians are stereotypes often found in Western fiction but nevertheless they are depicted in a tastefully stylised way. The entire comic has a limited colour pallet of oranges, blacks, whites and reds - the individual characters each have their own primarily colour that contributes to either the reader's perception of them as mystical or powerful or at the very least marks them as important to the plot. Throughout there is a distinct absence of green making the Texan/desert wasteland setting more prominent.
So overall, I enjoyed this comic, however flawed and cliched it may be, I would only recommend it however to people who like apocalyptic stories and bi-polar cultures in there reading I think people searching for a more modern or articulate read should look elsewhere.
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on 10 June 2014
i was unsure what to think when i first started this comic a lot of things take place very early on.
after a few pages though i found myself lost in this mad-max / futuristic western land.
the story is simple good vs evil .
the story is quick to the point and there is some good use of violence building up the characters early on giving us
hints of whats to come.
perfect for futuristic mad-max lovers.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
TOP 500 REVIEWERon 30 September 2013
I know the refrain from reviewers for Jonathan Hickman is that his Image, creator-owned stuff is better than his work-for-hire Marvel material but I have to say he's very much up and down on both sides of the comic fence. For every great FF and Architects of Forever series you get a baffling title like his Avengers and New Avengers, and for every brilliant title like God Is Dead and Manhattan Projects you get an utterly dismal Nightly News and East of West.

I disliked East of West for so many reasons - it's not much of a story and full of cliches, there aren't many ideas and the ones Hickman uses have been done before and better in other media, the characters are moronic, and the entire concept of yet another end of world scenario from Hickman is just laboured and boring.

In East of West, an alternate world where an extra long American Civil War led to the creation of seven separate states that make up America. For some reason the four horsemen of the Apocalypse, in kid form, have shown up minus Death who is for some reason a pure white adult gunslinger looking for his wife(!). The three horsemen set out to find Death to complete their group and bring about Armageddon. Or something like that. It's Old West meets Star Wars meets Far East meets boring.

This is comic where I was constantly made aware of other media like movies, TV shows, and comics, I'd seen before being mined for material to make up this book. First off the four horsemen of the Apocalypse thing has been done to death since forever - making them kids is hardly a game changer, nor is making Death a pure white gunslinger (and I don't mean racially, I mean every facet of this dude from his boots to his hat to his long white hair is alabaster white).

Then we have the whole divided states of America thing which is something hack writers like Harry Turtledove have made a career out of writing about plus there's been this board game called Risk which has been around for decades which takes a similar premise. Death has these flashbacks from a time when he - Death - was somehow "killed", or something, by a group of people whom he is now hunting down. That entire sequence and setup looks and feels just like The Bride's story from Kill Bill. Then we have the look and feel of the world which by turns looks like that 80s kids TV show Bravestarr, Star Wars' Coruscant, and 2000AD's Missionary Man. Nothing about artist Nick Dragotta's treatment of this comic looks at all original.

I just didn't get the story at all - who Death is, whether he really is Death, ie. the natural state of living beings' conclusion to life, or not. If he is, why are the other horsemen kids, and why is he at odds with them? Also why is he hunting down these men who wronged him physically when, seeing he is an anthropomorphic personification, he can simply emerge anywhere? He doesn't need guns does he? And why does he need a wife? Death got married and had a kid? WTF!!! Oh and another thing that Death's wife, Xiaolian, reminded me of was Talia Al-Ghul from Batman. And of course, being Asian, she spends her time tending to her lotuses in a zen garden called Tranquility (golf clap, Hickman).

Somehow the people of this world accept that the President and his entire cabinet have been systematically murdered (decapitated in nearly every instance) and have no objections to someone called Antonia LeVay who also looks like Maleficent from Disney's Sleeping Beauty, becoming the new President. Antonia LeVay - another golf clap, Hickman. "I need a villainess' name... how about I take the famous Satanist Anton LeVay's name and feminise it? Brilliant!".

And if you can take all of this nonsense seriously, then the finale will really lose you. See, stories are interesting when there are stakes and our heroes have vulnerabilities - the first gives us narrative tension, the second also does this but also adds the creative element to creative writing. The writer has to figure out how the hero or heroes will overcome obstacles in the story. Well, when you have Death as the hero and his two ghost Indian shape-changing buddies, none of whom can be killed, and are ridiculously powerful that nothing can get in their way, then you've failed on both counts. Death and his two companions face an ENTIRE ARMY and take it out in a few pages without blinking. Using six shooters and magic animals, they decimate an entire army who're shooting lasers, bullets, and all kinds of explosives at them and they're barely scratched. Oh, now I'm really on the edge of my seat. If literally nothing can harm them and they're invincible, then why should I care about this climactic battle when said battle will be so one-sided?

One final thing - this whole story is about the end of the world brought about by the Beast of the Apocalypse. Maybe it's because I've read too many Hickman books where this has been the case, but I'm getting pretty tired of reading a Hickman comic where the story is about the end of the world. Hickman's used this plot element so much, it's become a joke. His Avengers books are about the Avengers stopping the end of the world - the same goes for his FF books, his Infinity mini-series, the Manhattan Projects, Architects of Forever, God Is Dead and now East of West, all of which are about the end of the world. Hearing about the end of the world is not interesting when every single book has the end of the world as the stake - it feels lazy and uninspired, like shorthand for saying "this story is important". What must it be like to live in Jonathan Hickman's mind where every single story has to be about the end of the world?

So that's East of West, at least as I experienced it: dull story, cliched characters, and not a single original element in the entire five issues. Nick Dragotta's art is the only good thing about it but I think I'm about done with Jonathan Hickman for a while - there are only so many comics where doomsday is de rigeur that I can read and East of West pushed me past that limit. This is one seriously overrated and dreary comic.
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on 10 August 2015
Wasn't sure what to expect when I ordered this comic but was glad I did as the story and art are both very good. Furthermore the story is quite unique. East of west has quickly become one of my favourite comics.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 18 December 2013
You know that the future's bleak when your best hope lies with Death, but that's exactly the fate facing humanity (or at least North American humanity anyway) in East of West. In 2064, following an extremely protracted Civil War, the USA is divided into seven separate mega states and the country is overrun with technology, magic and mutants. Three extremely youthful Horsemen of the Apocalypse are on a mission to bring about the end of the world but Death, in a white cowboy persona, is AWOL following a vaguely hinted at attack on him and those dear to him. While the Horsemen and a cabal of politicos plot, plan and maim, Death is on his own destructive mission while the rest of the world is caught somewhere in the middle. East of West #1 is a good opener to the series; it's a fast-paced and peculiar steampunk western that establishes the characters well and sets the scene for plenty of action and intrigue in future volumes.
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4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on 22 October 2013
I took a bit of a chance on this, having never read any of the writer's work before. However for less than six quid, this has been a revelation. Tremendous story telling, fantastic art, all wrapped around a compelling concept. Can't wait for vol. 2.
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3 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on 26 September 2013
I heard about this some time ago when listening to a podcast called "I SELL COMICS!". They gave a rough outline of the plot, dystopian future/four horsemen etc, and i went straight onto Amazon to pre-order the trade paperback. And i waited. Let me tell you now that the wait was worth it. Great story, a bit confusing at first but easy to pick up via flasbacks that fill in any blanks, great art work and great dialogue. Buy this now. And thanks to Mike & Ming, not only for a very amusing podcast, but for a fantastic recomendation.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 28 December 2014
Hickman is the king of long form comics, and the world building here is intense and fascinating.
Rather than endless exposition, instead you are thrown into a alternative USA with several different countries forming an uneasy alliance. You're not sure if the main character is good bad or something in between. A great cross between western and sci-fi.
The artwork visualises the world imaginatively and at the end I suspect you'll be clicking for book 2 to be delivered.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 27 May 2014
Absolutely inspired comic writing by Jonathan Hickman, another incredibly unique and compelling narrative, complemented perfectly by stunning artwork from Nick Dragotta, A*!
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on 22 August 2015
Yes
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