I get the feeling that there is an awful lot going on here that I don’t have a clue about. And that seems to be okay.
Let me start by saying how gorgeous this book is. The artwork by Nick Dragotta is really fine. It is very stylized and different from most of what I’ve seen in graphic novels lately. I don’t think I was immediately enthralled with it, but as I got further in to the book, the better I felt about it, and now I can’t imagine this being done any better way.
The story … okay … it’s confusing, to say the least. This is an alternate world, sci-fi story in a western setting, with a biblical apocalypse theme. That’s right, the Four Horsemen of Revelations have returned (War, Famine, and Pestilence). Except one of them is missing, and they don’t really want to talk about it. Death has two new associates, Crow and Wolf, and he, now a western gunslinger, is busy on a mission of vengeance and he’s piling up bodies along the way.
Meanwhile, the leaders of the seven nations of the U.S. have business with Death.
It’s a lot to follow, and it does get confusing. And while I don’t generally care for books that are not complete (you know that, right…from reading these reviews?) graphic novels do follow different rules, and for some reason, I trust that author Jonathan Hickman is in control here and has a plan. Why? I don’t know. I can’t say that I’m at all familiar with Hickman or any previous work, but you don’t start something that seems this ambitious and this … convoluted … without a greater plan. At least I hope not.
Still, I can only rate this on what is here, not what it isn’t or what it might become, and at this point, the book is just a lot of confusion and info-dump. And gorgeous art. Look at these samples, linked from Nick Dragotta’s own web page:
It is simple and stunning at the same time.
Looking for a good book? This graphic novel is beautiful to look at and promises something very exciting, but is extremely complex and confusing at this time. Waiting to see what Volume 2 brings might be wise.
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East of West #1: The Promise
author: Jonathan Hickman
artist: Nick Dragotta
publisher: Image Comics
paperback, 128 pages