Oliver Davis reviews East of West #18…
“THE PATH OF THE PROPHET” The last days of the world are upon us, and one man has become the living word of the apocalypse. This is the story of Ezra Orion and his unholy resurrection.
Seemingly taking direction from the closing sentence of last month’s review (“Just give us the demon boy and his pet robot balloon.”), East of West #18 mostly follows the adventures of the Great Beast Babylon (the aforementioned ‘demon boy’) and his guide balloon through a forest. Be careful what you wish for.
One of East of West’s main annoyances is Jonathan Hickman’s love of dialogue. He writes incredibly well, with a wonderful ear for dialect; he just writes too much.
You can barely see the art work for all the words. Panels are engorged by expanding speech bubbles, often saying in three pages what could be said in one. It’s like watching a lengthy Tarantino dialogue scene played out. Only comics are more reliant on their visuals than a movie’s, lacking the 24 picture-a-second luxury for the attention deficient. Dynamics need to be portrayed through action.
Which is why you need to be careful for what you wish for. Hickman has granted that ‘Demon Boy/Pet Robot Balloon’ buddy comedy fantasy…as a tedious mediation on the poet Robert Frost. Despite their pretentious ramblings, the central relationship between the two – of how the Balloon controls what Babylon perceives – is wickedly absorbing.
Along with a stoic send off between Death and Lady Mao, #18 is an enjoyable enough instalment. Hickman’s penchant for lengthy dialogue keeps it from being much more than that.