East of West: The Promise, Volume One

East of West, Vol. 1: The Promise - Jonathan Hickman, Nick Dragotta

When I was sent this trade for review I was very excited because I have never read a Western comic. All the titles I read are superheroes, gods, devils, angels, sci-fi and magic. So I was a little bit bemused when I opened this comic to three adolescents being ‘birthed’ from inside a magic circle. Fortunately only a few pages in it became apparent that I had the wrong impression all the time as this is an almost steam punk style western set in an equivalent but different modern day. This is the beauty of blind reviews as I have no preconceived ideas of what the comic will be about and therefore I can give a truly unbiased opinion.


I have to hand it to the writer, normally reading speech bubbles with ‘accents’ written in gets really old really quickly, however there is just the right amount of inflection to really make me hear that accent, without making it hard to read. I would love to be able to name the accent, but being from Old Blighty I would probably just embarrass myself. However if it comes through strongly with me, I expect anyone who is very used to hearing that accent would read it even more clearly than I do.


It is very hard to review a trade without giving away some spoilers. I have discovered that with individual issues you tend to be able to go up to about page 7 or 8 without spoiling the comic as up to that point was already spoiled by the teasers or the cover. With a trade such as this which evolves and grows throughout, never quite giving you all the information you need to understand the story it is hard to give any form of plot without ruining half the book. At its core this story breaks down to the idea of the four Horsemen, given bodies, in a world slightly in the future of ours where slightly different events took place than did on our world. The United States is not merely the USA, it is the entire world, ruled over by seven individuals. At some point they conspired to separate Death from the other horsemen and now those rejuvenated children seek their former partner to bring final apocalypse to the world.


There is some wonderful borrowed iconography in this book. The Black Tower is clearly reminiscent of Star Wars and the moment where Palpatine’s shuttle docks with the Death Star. The White Tower, while looking like a massive trigger button, also has a very Fifth Element/Star Wars feel about it with the rows of flying cars around it. I am certain if my knowledge of Western films extended beyond brief moments of my mother watching them on Saturday afternoons then I would see them in the moments around the campfires. It is a really clever use of homage that does not make the comic feel too much of a copy of other ideas, but at the same time draws upon our knowledge of them to remove the necessity to explain things further.


Disclaimer: This book was received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Source: http://cmro.travis-starnes.com/blog/2013/10/east-of-west-the-promise-volume-1-review