East of West #21 Review

Writer: Jonathan Hickman / Artist: Nick Dragotta / Image Comics

As with a lot of Hickman books, the narrative of East of West has spread itself horizontally a lot more in year two. That has at times been fruitful with the outstanding issues with Babylon AKA The Beast, but this current thread concerning Doma Lux and her ties to the House of Mao have dragged on a bit. Which isn’t to say it’s not interesting. The secret affair and the chess game that has been at play between Doma and the Widowmaker is fascinating in its own right. We might have wandered what the purpose or agency of Doma planting a bomb in the old man was way back in Issue #12 and we get some of those answers here. It’s not that this isn’t a cool revelation, it’s that it fits into a story that isn’t really travelling anywhere yet.

The extended look we get inside the Machine City isn’t all that fascinating until we leave it as their leader Narsimha seeks some council at one point. It has the lone kinetic scenes of the book and also connects a few more loose threads for us as far as certain characters’ importance in the world. The revelation though? More set up. No pay off yet.

Nick Dragotta does another marvelous job whether it is the innovative story telling element near the beginning or the brief voyage through the Sea of Bones and the infamous meet up. The scale and treachery that he captures is top notch and never lets this book feel like anything other then a thorny epic.

East of West is playing the long game right now by bringing more relevance to little-known characters. It’s a mixed bag, but to be honest, it’s a Hickman mixed bag, which elevates it over other table-setter issues. However, the longer we get away from Death, the Horsemaen, or the Beast, the more this story begins to drift into something far less engaging than the one we were introduced to.

7.0 out of 10

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  • William is the Editor-In-Chief, leader of the Black Knights and father of the Avatar. With Korra's attitude, not the other one.

  • Show Comments

  • Che

    Hmmm, interesting perspective. You’re right that Hickman has broadened the scope of the story a lot in the past and current arcs, and there has been a lot more setup than action. But I’m sure it’ll all pay off eventually. Remember the end of volume 3 with the Beast escaping his prison? I’m sure another WOAH moment similar to that is around the corner, it’s just being built up. The thing I’ve noticed with Hickman in this series is that he likes to plant little hints of what’s going to happen here and there, and then build up to them slowly and steadily. I’m missing the Death/Horsemen/Beast side of the story as well, but I know we’ll return to it. After all, not only did Hickman say in the past volume that Death and Xiolian would never see each other again after that meeting, but way back in volume 2 the Oracle Death met said that he would eventually return, something like “an enemy to the world, and having lost everything.” So I think some big moments are coming.

    Good review though, it’s clear you know how to express what you didn’t like about something without sounding overly arrogant.

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