Death leads the Horsemen on a bloody chase through a futuristic western dystopia poised on the brink of apocalypse.
Jonathan Hickman’s crisp script deftly reveals the underlying causes of the carnage arriving on New Shanghai’s doorstep with Mao V’s admonition of his daughters, “There is a natural order to this world. One that has been upended. A direct result of both your actions…You with your allegiances. And you with your @#$% heart.” Messianic politics and love are the turbulent motivators of these sisters who share a violent past. In welcome contrast to the sisters’ cold emotion stand the three pint-sized Horsemen, who possess a sociopathic charm that gives the gripping story an Addams Family-like sense of twisted comic relief. When these kids smile, the body count skyrockets.
Nick Dragotta’s clean and expressive art is an excellent complement to Hickman’s quirky rogue’s gallery of characters. Are there any good guys in this series? Dragotta handles the fixed features of Famine’s face with the same emotional detail that we see with Conquest as he struggles to sit at the bar then order a “manly man drink.” And Frank Martin’s colors, muted for the flashbacks and vibrant for the characters’ current times, add a stabilizing presence to a book that is finally offering some answers to the pressing questions of the first two issues.
Stick with East of West, it’s a comic where the considerable carnage isn’t the star of the show, but how the characters behave in the aftermath.
Jonathan Hickman (W), Nick Dragotta (A) • Image Comics, $3.50, June 5, 2013.