Oliver Davis reviews East of West #17…
“‘FALLOUT’ In which we see how the horror of war has effected each and every nation — and which nations will crumble and which will rise. The Apocalypse: Year Two rumbles on in EAST OF WEST #17…”
“Look what they give you. Just so they can take it away.”
East of West #17 opens by self-reflexively commenting on its own publishing schedule. Jonathan Hickman’s science fiction fantasy western has been on a three month break since its last proper issue, frustratingly going on leave just as the series was finally gaining momentum. East of West’s creators seem to see East of West more as a graphic novel over a monthly comic.
This issue mainly sees Hickman’s political cogs a’turning, with the book’s various factions scheming and dealing. The Union has its regal clones, the PRA its stubborn tradition. Nothing new. But what really stands out are the two pages granted to Death’s child, the ‘Great Beast’ (name aside, he seems rather pleasant). He can only percieve reality through a visor, and is being guided around by a malevolent A.I. The robot has distorted everything, making all around them appear grotesque and horrific. Boulders are giant skulls and pleasant forests full of deadly spiders. If the entire issue was a buddy road-trip narrative between the two, that wouldn’t be so bad.
And neither is Xiao and Death’s duologue to end the episode. Much needed backstory refreshers are helpfully conversed, and future conspiracy plots are foreshadowed. The concluding panels don’t make much sense, but then the book’s narrative is becoming quite contrived, and its political maneouvering too tangled. Too many cooks spoil the broth and, sometimes, too many characters confuddle the plot.
Just give us the demon boy and his pet robot balloon.
Oliver Davis is one of Flickering Myth’s co-editors. You can follow him on Twitter (@OliDavis).