Oliver Davis reviews East of West #11…
“THE NATION, XIAOLIAN…The Bride of Death makes her first moves in the great game of Nations. The Chosen begin to splinter.”
Issue 11 opens on Xiaolian, ruler of the Mao region, preparing to leave for The Wall. There, she will confront her fellow Heads of States on the world’s potential destruction. It’s a lot like a G8 summit, only she’ll arrive in her bright red mechanical armour, in which are concealed two devastating blades. In negotiation terms, they call it ‘leverage.’
After a riveting issue 10, following Death’s search for his son, East of West turns its attention to the other main plot – the inter-regional tensions between the world’s various factions. The recent standalone issues detailing these regions only now show their worth (at the time they were frustrating diversions), as familiar characters are reintroduced. There’s the oil-rich Kingdom, the in-fighting Union, and the aforementioned, Mao dynasty-run PRA. They’re all summarised by Colonel Sanders-impersonator Archibald Chamberlain to his President. “What precisely has history taught us about leaders who come into power through regicide?” he says of Xiaolian, in the book’s best line.
The book ends by introducing an as-yet-unseen region – The Endless Nation. They’re peculiar looking fellows, wearing suits complimented by high-tec Egyptian-style headdresses. Tension is built well throughout the issue, in the same ‘calm before the storm’ way as the planning montages in Heat, or the bank heist prologue to The Dark Knight, but the big reveal feels as though East of West is now parodying itself. Yet again, we have another definite article. The This, The That…
There is plenty to like about East of West. This is an enjoyable read. But its fetish for everything being a ‘THE’ is becoming frankly ludicrous.
It’s not a flaw, it’s The Flaw.