Comic Vine Review

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East of West #9 - Nine: A Kingdom of Riches Review

4

Power plays are business as usual for The Kingdom

The Good

With this month's glimpse into the moves of The Chosen, Jonathan Hickman cascades a series of risky decisions, each accompanied by an attempted shift in power dynamic. Leading in with a dramatic sequence between Death and the Oracle, following with a lighter, swifter turn between two of The Kingdom's princes, and building to a bold, final move, he plays narrative chess and sets The Kingdom's position before the next great confrontation erupts amidst The Chosen. If the first volume of EAST OF WEST was about building a world, this one is about setting its key players up for a dramatic turn as that world hurls towards its end.

The power struggles in this issue feel so purposeful; the dialogues that precede each are laced with hints of prescience (or is it just confidence?). Whether it's the Oracle's pontificating wander through Death's potential outcomes or the King's warnings of war, every conversation is steering us towards the storm that is inevitably brewing, and fueling the winds of change.

Nick Dragotta, as always, stuns on the artistic front. He's equally adept at crafting imaginative futurescapes (those floating pyramids in The Kingdom? Splendid.) and visceral violence, and this issue is packed with prime samples of both. I'm really enjoying Frank Martin's colors as well, and while glows can sometimes be used to poor effect, I'm charmed by the pale, electronic blues reflecting from John Freeman's video screen/holographic communicator.

The Bad

While it was a fun glimpse at the royal family's interpersonal dynamic and unique naming practices, perhaps the least interesting of the subplots in this issue is the fight between the Crown Prince and his eighth brother. Given the gutting scene that occurs just prior, it feels somewhat lackluster (to be fair, most things would).

The Verdict

The penultimate issue of EAST OF WEST's second volume marks another engaging stop on the (end of the) world tour, layering the gains and losses of history against the risk held by potential futures. The Kingdom seems to be populated by characters who are generally less odious or cruel than some of the other nations seen so far, but John Freeman has emerged from this issue as a shrewd and powerful player. What will become of him -- and, of course, the freshly-blinded Death -- is a captivating hook.

9 Comments
Posted by spinningbirdcake

So good. Maybe Death will go back and steal that Bartender's eyeball now that he's blind. Either that or Crow and Wolf are going to be way more prominent than they have been, by necessity, considering he doesn't really have any other allies. Speaking of which I hope Hickman gives those two a spotlight issue soon.

Posted by Oy_the_Billy_Bumbler

I love this series, even though I only understand about 40% of what's going on. lol.

Posted by Umbraa

Nonsense. There was nothing lackluster about the Royal family or the fight with his brother. It was perfectly fine. In fact, the royals were the highlight of the issue for me and a lot of other reviewers. We have been following Death the entire time, but in this issue, just like the issue about the Rangers, we get to explore other aspects of the world and it's via the Royal family. That was world building.

Posted by KryptonSabbath

How is this series? I've been eying it up all day but unsure if I'd enjoy it. I'm reading a few series from Image already and I wouldn't mind a couple more especially during the break with SAGA.

Posted by J_HickmanIsGod

this is one of the only Hickman stories out right now that i think im waiting on to be over to begin reading.

all my friends' say its formatted and structured in a way that its confusing to take in an issue at a time. probably why so many people say its confusing and have no idea whats going on, or cant make heads or tails of whats going on.

i learn to never question Hickman's genius. he tends to have his reasons.