May 18, 2013

Review -- EAST OF WEST #2

This Review Originally Ran on Comics Bulletin
East of West #2
(Jonathan Hickman, Nick Dragotta, Frank Martin; Image)
4.5/5 Stars
When reviewing East of West #1, CB's Nick Hanover called this title "one of Hickman's slow burns,"and he compared the book to Bowie's Station to Station. Issue #2 continues to languidly climb the wooden match, and, to continue the Bowie metaphor, Hickman has just released Low. Dragotta is Brian Eno, giving shape to the ideas. Frank Martin is Iggy Pop, throwing in the firebombs just by being around.

The experiment that is East of West continues and grows in complexity. Issue 2 moves confidently, both writer and artist are laying down a new groove. Pieces begin to be put together while new questions arise. War, Famine and Conquest start taking matters into their own hands. Death, all in white, he is constant... or is nothing, starts making deals. Antonia LeVay (seriously Hickman, you got balls) becomes President. The Chosen still are at work trying to orchestrate the end of the world. The Message is slowly being transmitted. We end with "A cup, of a cup. A chalice, of a chalice," and with that even more enigmatic conundrums are raised.
Were this anyone else but Hickman, I think we all would have thrown this series into the bargain bin by now. It is dense and seemingly impenetrable and a reader has to have faith that the author is not taking them down a dark tunnel only to abandon them when the journey becomes to difficult or exhaustion sets in. Hickman has enough cred now to warrant following him through his spelunking. We trust that he knows where he is going and, when we get there, we'll be glad he was our guide. It's a pretty crazy gamble -- ballsy in fact -- but you have to admire Hickman for it.

Dragotta continues to be the perfect compliment for Hickman's world building. He even figured out a way to make three little kids seem almost cute at one point, then scary as all fuck in the next moment. Also, Frank Martin colors are just …. well, just look at them. Pretty spectacular work, maybe even the highlight of the entire book.

So get this book. You need to be reading it. Hickman's playing the long game with this series and the payoff is bound to be immense. It's a Hickman book. You can bank on it. Hickman ain't no Charles Keating.
As for issue three, we've still got a long way to go on this wooden match -- and hey, didn't Bowie release Heroes after Low? Nuff said.

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