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East Of West #5

by kanchilr1 on August 14, 2013

The Team
Writer Jonathan Hickman Artist Nick Dragotta

East Of West hit the end of what felt like a first novel in the previous issue. The story was so focused on plot towards the opening, that it was rough to get a grip on the characters. However as this series continues to ship from publisher Image comics, it seems that many people are changing their views on the title. The outlandish style that was so prominent in the book just continues to spiral out of control. In media there is a big push right now towards shows and comics more focused on plot. Stories that focus on aspects such as specific story beats often lead to challenging first installments. This is a title that fits into the latter half. The more that readers see the unfolding desperation of Death and his friends, the more interested that they will be in this comic. This book is actually not much different from the Avengers series being published by Marvel right now. The biggest difference notable in these two titles seem to be the lack of a definitive threat. Hickman’s Avengers run built up Ex Nihilo very fast and reversed the character into a good one. It is very easy to take Death from this issue and see the parallels with these two heroes.

This issue moves the curtain back and lets a big character scene flow naturally. Such a radical shift in tone for this series pays off in spades here. No matter how focused writer Jonathan Hickman is in the story going on in the background, he never loses sight of any of the characters. Even in previous issues that are plot based, readers still have something to latch onto in the pages. In a way, this issue acts as a second chapter in the story with just 26 pages. Those interested in the story coming into this issue are finally given a few reasons to care about the main character. The plot also speeds ahead, even with this character focused issue. A first glimpse at where this story is also given to to fans in the form of a new character. With his first introduction, it is obvious that this is an integral vision into the future of the title.

Nick Dragotta continues to kill the visuals on this series. The art is so colorful, yet it builds towards a bleak tone that increases the stakes of the story. Dragotta nails the nuanced facial expressions necessary to tell this story, and also gives another dimension to the characters. The contradicting designs of the East and Western visual styles play off of the page quite well. Also after thinking about the character designs and the title of the book it is easy to see how the visual component is important to the book. Flashback scenes in the comic book look just different enough to stay interesting. This is an issue that pulls back and starts to flesh out the different characters in the story. By nature this is probably not the most interesting title to draw. Yet the penciller draws with such energy channeled so precisely, you would think that the artist was riveted on every single page of the comic.

With manipulation of time, pacing, character work, and plot, this is a wonderful entry in overarching narrative that should have the audience completely engrossed. Really it is what readers have been waiting for a long time with this series, an actual reason to care about these people. With the first couple slightly disjointed issues, I wonder if this series would be a more satisfying experience as an original graphic novel. For now enjoy the fact that the gun has gone off, and Hickman is working his way towards a big storyline.

Our Score:

9/10

A Look Inside