Comic Vine Review

18 Comments

East of West #5 - Five: The Message Review

5

All bets are, most certainly, off. The stakes just maxed out.

The Good

I don't know what kind of end game Hickman and Dragotta are building to, but I'm convinced that it will be Biblical in scale. This issue feels longer than its page count suggests, and the series feels longer than only five issues in -- in the best way. I am stunned each month by how much emotion and history every issue conveys, and cannot describe the series any more accurately than "a perfectly paced Western," particularly after this issue.

The back-and-forth between Xiao and Death is flawless. Every aspect of it -- the dialogue, the looks, their postures -- is deliberate, dripping with years of history and scores of heartache, and it's edged with katana-sharp tension. Truly, they're the greatest and most tragic lovers this world has ever known; they've both laid it all on the line, and are both uniquely poised to lose bigger than any other soul alive (or dead). It's been ages since I've seen a bittersweet conversation this impeccably scripted, and the characters on the page aren't just posed, they're acting. Scratch that. They're feeling.

And yet there's so much more to the issue, even after what could easily be a breakpoint ten pages in. I'd have been satisfied with the first part of their conversation alone, but this isn't the kind of book that allows complacency. After our heartstrings are primed for the tear, we get the biggest reveal, that the child of Xiao and Death is still alive. If any part of that was predictable, it certainly wasn't the condition that child is kept in, and if that wasn't a reminder of the alt-future setting (towers and ray guns and odd almost-horses aside), I'm not sure what is. Game. Changer.

In short, we've got a story with a slow but incredibly powerful emotional build that's on the verge of bubbling over, just enough context to think we know whose side we're on, and a few emotional bombs of world-changing severity. All after only five issues. Well played, EAST OF WEST.

The Bad

I long for a soundtrack to go with this series, even if it's not conventional to the medium. Dragotta's panels look downright cinematic as it is; I think a killer score would make the work even more powerful.

The Verdict

EAST OF WEST continues to escalate in both tension and scale; there are no compromises in this book, and we know that someone is going to lose big at the end. The stage has been set for Death and Xiao to fight it out in a grand war against The Chosen and their allies, but will the final standoff be their own, or will there be additional twists thrown in? My money's on the twists.

20 Comments
Posted by MadeinBangladesh

Hope it's good as the last issue.

Edited by Hawkguy

Perfect review. Perfect book. Made this a perfect month. I'm done...

Posted by Cavemold

Intesting things were brought up when the kid was talking to the robot. 5/5 top of the pile for this book! The conidtion of the child.was shocking. The twist was pretty great!

Edited by K3vinkha0S

Hickman's storytelling is a slow burn, but with immense payoff if you stay committed.

Posted by MissJ

Not noted in my review, but still on my mind: I'm getting vibes of both Kill Bill and Minority Report from this issue. Still trying to process all of the layers; it's brilliant.

Staff
Edited by TheFirstLantern

i still need to catch up ;-;-; but i am looking forward to it.

Posted by Cavemold
Edited by TheFirstLantern
Posted by _Marc_74

cant wait. dispatched today will get in a week

good old forbidden planet. and that's the fast subscription service

Edited by Shallbecomeabattoo

Hmm. Counting that this book has no soundtrack as a negative point is pretty dumb, to be honest, especially when you acknowledge the fact that there are no soundtracks in comics.

Its like saying the bad thing about a new CD you are listening to on your stereo is that it has no video, or

"Hey Sir! my Pizza doesn't taste like a hamburger! Whats up with that???"

I mean... yeah.

You don't have to make up negative points to keep your reviewer cred.

Edited by MissJ

@shallbecomeabattoo: I originally had "I wish this were on film," but thought twice about it, since I think it's unnecessary to suggest that the chosen medium isn't good enough. That said, the part that would really make this come to life on film would be music, so it's what I feel is "absent" given that it's not a film.

Staff
Posted by Michael_Moran

This book is confusing to me.

Posted by SummersBlood

I have never before gone from enjoying a previous issue so much, to then wanting to drop a book after the most recent issue....really? A baby? Death had a baby? How is this cool, interesting, or different than what we've seen a million times before? I thought this book was really heading somewhere different, but now I'm thinking it's a bit like Thanos Rising in that the more the gaps get filled in, the more cliched and totally unoriginal the story has been revealed to be.

Posted by microwave25

@shallbecomeabattoo: Wow and you don't have to be such a cynic. Her comment makes perfect sense. Shes talking about the cinematic aspect of the book. Thought it was a great review.

Posted by Piney

This book has continuously brought my enjoyment with each issue. It's few and far between for myself that a title captures so much is so little time. Awesome read guys. Definitely pick this one up!

Posted by hufnagel0

I have never before gone from enjoying a previous issue so much, to then wanting to drop a book after the most recent issue....really? A baby? Death had a baby? How is this cool, interesting, or different than what we've seen a million times before? I thought this book was really heading somewhere different, but now I'm thinking it's a bit like Thanos Rising in that the more the gaps get filled in, the more cliched and totally unoriginal the story has been revealed to be.

Right? How many times do we need to read about Death and his witch buddies fighting the other three horsemen of the apocalypse and their puppet leaders of a fractured US so he can rescue his son from being a pawn in executing the edict of a sacred text? It's so cliche.

Posted by Perfect 10

another great issue of xiaolian...i meant east of west. love lian she is the embodiment of a true woman, strong and fierce yet gentle and caring all at the same time. the shocker for me was seeing lian with that belly, it just never occurred to me that they had a child so i was stunned and had to do a double take, stop then start over to fully grasp the situation. even as i read and knew what lian was going to say next i knew he was still alive and that it was he that death was talking about when he said he was going to get back what they took from him. i thought he was looking for lian but since he thought she was dead it all makes sense now. slowly the pieces are being connected. my heart sank when i saw death junior mutilated like that. sigh the twists, shocks and turns keep a rollin'

Posted by The_Grindilow

@_marc_74 said:

cant wait. dispatched today will get in a week

good old forbidden planet. and that's the fast subscription service

Dude that's a pretty poor turnaround. I find ebay a good place if you have the time to search each comic out individually. As long as you get it in the end though I suppose it doesn't matter.