East of West

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East of West
Cover of East of West 1. Art by Nick Dragotta.
All Image Comics characters are trademarks of and copyright 2008 Image Comics or their respective owners.
Publication information
Publisher Image Comics
Schedule Monthly
Format Ongoing series
Publication date March 2013 – present
No. of issues 31
Creative team
Created by Jonathan Hickman, Nick Dragotta
Written by Jonathan Hickman
Artist(s) Nick Dragotta
Letterer(s) Rus Wooton
Colorist(s) Frank Martin

East of West is a monthly comic book series published by Image Comics which debuted in March 2013. Created by writer Jonathan Hickman and artist Nick Dragotta, the book is a science fiction Western set in a dystopian version of the United States whose fate rests with the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse.

Publication history[edit]

At the 2012 New York Comic Con, Image Comics announced East of West as one of the publisher's new titles in 2013.[1][2] The series reunited writer Jonathan Hickman and illustrator Nick Dragotta, who had previously collaborated on Fantastic Four for Marvel Comics. In an interview with Comic Book Resources, Dragotta recalled: "I remember a few email exchanges where we said we should work together again sometime, maybe do a creator-owned book. That was kind of it. It gestated for a little while when we worked on FF and our relationship grew tighter. We met at the last Image Expo and sat down for lunch. He told me he had this great idea for a Western, and I said I wanted to draw science fiction. We merged it into a sci-fi Western, and that's how the idea was born."[3] The first issue of East of West was released on March 27, 2013.[4]

Premise[edit]

Hickman told Previews catalog that the tagline of East of West is "The things that divide us are stronger than the things that unite us." Hickman explained, "The end times are imminent and we all hate each other too much to come together and solve our problems. Our final destination is imminent, and it is the Apocalypse. And then, in the face of all that despair and gloom, somehow there is still hope."[5] The series, a science-fiction Western set in a dystopian America, casts the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse as heroes. Of these four characters, Hickman describes Death - a "Clint Eastwood-y" man wearing a suit, cowboy hat and skull bolo tie - as someone who feels "betrayed", and the others (War, Famine and Conquest) as feeling "abandoned".[6][7] The second arc, according to Dragotta, focuses on the Chosen, "a group of elites from the Seven Nations who are working to bring about the end of the world."[8]

Plot[edit]

East of West is set in a dystopian future of the present-day United States. In this timeline, the Civil War never ended and there was almost eternal strife between the Union, the Confederacy, African slaves, Native Americans, Chinese exiles, and Texan separatists. This strife comes to a sudden halt when a comet hits present-day Kansas on November 9, 1908. The six warring parties meet at Armistice- the location of the comet's impact- and make a truce, thereby forming "the Seven Nations of America": Armistice, The Union, The Confederacy, the Kingdom, the Endless Nation, the Republic of Texas, and the PRA of Mao. On the same day as the comet impact and the signing of the treaty, there were two simultaneous, yet independent prophecies: 1. Elijah Longstreet was a soldier in the Confederate Army under Stonewall Jackson; he wrote his part of the prophecy down and then collapsed and died. 2. Red Cloud had become the chief of chiefs to the Endless Indian Nation by defeating the many Indian chiefs and uniting all of the Indian tribes under himself; he transmitted his portion of the prophecy orally and then he too collapsed and died.

For fifty years, these prophecies, referred to by believers as "the Message", remained incomplete. In 1958, Chairman Mao Zedong of the PRA wrote an addendum to his Little Red Book; this addendum was the third piece of the prophecy and completed the Message. It now became clear that The Message was a prophecy of the End of Times.

The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse (Death, War, Famine, and Conquest) seek to fulfill the prophecy by following the Message. Believers in the Message make pilgrimage to the site of the comet impact but are always killed by the Four Horsemen. One year, Conquest spares the infant child of one of the pilgrims and takes him as her own. She names him Ezra Orion and raises him to be the carrier of the Message. The Horsemen build a structure over Armistice to prevent any further pilgrimages and they train Ezra to become "what the Message demands"; Ezra is the first member of "the Chosen" and his job is to be the Keeper of the Message. The Horsemen gather 6 other members for the Chosen, each Chosen being a high-ranking member of one of the respective nations. The Chosen are tasked with the goal of bringing about the Apocalypse.

Now, on their path to the Apocalypse, the Horsemen get derailed when Death falls in love with Xiaoling, one of the two daughters of Mao III. Death and Xia have a son together and Death loses interest in the mission of the Horsemen. Death and Xia leave their previous lives to go live together and raise their son. However, this coupling was foretold by the prophecy and Ezra interprets their offspring to be "the Beast" that will bring about the apocalypse. Xia's sister, Hu, is a believer in the Message and a member of the Chosen. She betrays her sister to the three remaining Horsemen and they take away her son. Xia is taken prisoner by her own father, who agrees to cut a deal with the three Horsemen: Mao will keep Xia's existence a secret from Death and in exchange, Mao can maintain control of the PRA and Xia can keep her life. Xia is told that her son was killed, but in fact Ezra begins raising him to become the Beast.

After Xia is imprisoned and her son is taken from her, something happens that kills the Horsemen; the series is still unclear about what exactly happened. During this event, Death was also presumed to have been killed [9] but he survives due to two witches of the Endless Nation: Crow and Wolf.[10] 10 years later, War, Famine, and Conquest are resurrected at Armistice as 10-year-old children; but they realize that Death was not resurrected as a child because he was not killed when they were. They feel abandoned by Death and are determined to accomplish the mission without their fourth compatriot. Death on the other hand seeks revenge for the presumed murders of his son and wife. Here begins the story of East of West #1.

Characters[edit]

Pro-Apocalypse:

  • War, Famine, Conquest (Horsemen of the Apocalypse)- The three Horsemen that have stayed focused on their mission of bringing about the End of Days. Ten years before the events of Issue #1, they were killed by an unknown event, but they are now resurrected as children. Each of the Horsemen has different colored skin: War is red, Famine is yellow, and Conquest is blue. In their current incarnation, War and Conquest are male children while famine is a female child; however in their previous incarnation, War and Conquest were adult females while Famine was an adult male.
  • Ezra Orion (Chosen)- The premier of Armistice and keeper of the Message. Ezra is the adopted son of Conquest and seeks to please his mother by becoming "what the Message demands". He is eventually killed by Wolf, who assumes his role as the Living Word.
  • Madame President Antonia LeVay (Chosen)- The President of the Union. Formerly the Secretary of the Interior and 8th in the line of succession. After Death killed the previous President of the Union, the three Horsemen killed anyone that preceded Antonia in the line of succession. As she was a true believer in the Message, the Horsemen arranged for her to take the office of President. She is later killed in a Rebel attack on Washington, D.C., orchestrated by President Chamberlain.
  • John Freeman I (Chosen)- Crown Prince of Kingdom of New Orleans. His father, King John Freeman, appointed Cheveyo as his teacher/mentor; through Cheveyo, John was initiated into the belief system of the Chosen. He has 14 brothers, all named John Freeman and vying to replace him as Crown Prince.
  • Cheveyo (Chosen)- An outcast of the Endless Nation. He provided the Endless Nation's technology to the Chosen so that they could create the Beast of the apocalypse. He was killed by the Ranger while being interrogated by Death and Wolf. Cheveyo is currently using Bel Solomon as his living host.
  • Hu (Chosen)- A daughter of Mao III and sister to Xiaoling. As a believer in the Message and follower of the apocalyptic religion/cult, Hu turned her own sister over to the Chosen so that they could take Xiaoling's son and cultivate him into the Beast of the Apocalypse. She was killed by Xiaoling soon after Death returned to the PRA to find his wife.
  • Balloon- Mobile AI provided by Cheveyo to the Chosen. Balloon's entire purpose is to turn Babylon into the Beast of the Apocalypse.

Anti-Apocalypse:

  • Death (Horseman of the Apocalypse)- The protagonist of the series. Formerly of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, Death fell in love with Xiaoling and fathered a child with her. When the other horsemen were killed, Death somehow avoided their fate. Although he did not die or experience resurrection like the other Horsemen, he did change color from black to white.
  • Crow- Accomplice of Death from the Endless Nation. Aided him in avoiding the death and resurrection experienced by the other horsemen.
  • Wolf- Accomplice of Death from the Endless Nation. Aided him in avoiding the death and resurrection experienced by the other horsemen. Wolf is the son of Cheveyo and a suitor of Crow.
  • Governor Bel Solomon (Chosen)- Current Governor of Republic of Texas. Bel was formerly a lawyer and a champion of justice; he helped the Ranger in seeking justice for the murder of his family. However, he gradually allowed himself to become an accomplice of the Chosen. Eventually he regretted joining and aiding the Chosen and sought to rebel; but was betrayed by Archibald, who also captures him after he escapes from Endless custody. He is currently possessed by Cheveyo.
  • Mao Xiaolian- Current Premier of the PRA after committing regicide against Mao III, her father. Wife of Death. Mother of Babylon. Xiaolian was imprisoned in her father's garden for 10 years during which her only contacts with the outside world were her mute guards and occasional visits from her father. Her son was taken from her by the Horsemen and her sister Hu and her hands were ripped off by Famine. In place of her hands, she was given robotic prosthetics.
  • The Ranger- After his family was murdered and the corrupt Texas justice system failed to convict the murderer, the Ranger killed the judge and the murderer. He led a rebellion against the justice system and replaced it with vigilante justice. Although he retired after correcting the justice system, he stepped back into his role after Bel Solomon tipped him off about the plans of the Chosen. He is currently seeking to destroy the Chosen and he has already killed Cheveyo.

Independent Allegiances:

  • President Archibald Chamberlain (Chosen)- Formerly Chief of Staff of Confederacy. Currently President of Confederacy after having assassinated former President Burkhart. A skilled diplomat in leverage and negotiation, Archibald has proven to be a very conniving and slippery character.
  • Babylon- Son of Death and Xiaolian. Kidnapped from his parents and trapped in an AI virtual-reality from infancy, Babylon is being raised/brainwashed to become the Beast of the Apocalypse.
  • The Oracle- As the keeper of secrets, she was imprisoned and blinded by the Four Horsemen. Her eyes were removed from her; one is in the possession of the Tracker and one is in the possession of Archibald. In exchange for giving Death information about his son's whereabouts, Oracle took Death's left eye and now uses it as her own.
  • The Hunter- A hired agent that assisted the Chosen and the Horsemen in hunting down Death. After the resurrection of the Horsemen, he gives Death a list of the Chosen. He then gives away Death's location to the other Horsemen. Secretly he holds the position of the Pathfinder in the tracker clan. He is later killed by Death after sending trackers to kill Babylon.

Reception[edit]

The first issue of East of West sold out in the week of its release.[11] Newsarama's David Pepose wrote that knowing where the story is going "can be a challenge", but that "with sharp art and strong dialogue, this first issue has a lot going for it".[12] Greg McElhatton of Comic Book Resources said, "Hickman and Dragotta are clearly telling an epic story, and it feels so rich and textured that it's hard to not want to see more. The comic is off to an extremely strong start".[13] Reviews of the first five issues by IGN have received ratings ranging from 7.0 to 9.0 out of 10.[14][15][16][17][18] J.C. Maçek III of PopMatters said after reading issue #2, "there is enough potential in both substance and style to give East of West a shot… with both barrels."[19] In a review of the fifth issue, The A.V. Club's Oliver Sava said, "this conclusion to the first arc solidifies the emotional stakes of the story while setting a clear path for the future."[20] McElhatton wrote that the eighth issue " is another strong installment in a series that deserves even more attention than it's already received."[21] The first trade paperback collection, The Promise, topped the Diamond Comic Distributors sales charts in September.[22] East of West was named Best New Comic Book Series at the 2013 Diamond Gem Awards.[23] It was chosen as one of Digital Spy's top ten comics of 2013.[24]

Collected editions[edit]

Title Material collected Publication date ISBN
East of West, Volume 1: The Promise East of West #1-5 September 2013 978-1607067702
East of West, Volume 2: We Are All One East of West #6-10 April 2014 978-1607068556
East of West, Volume 3: There Is No Us East of West #11-15 September 2014 978-1632151148
East of West, Volume 4: Who Wants War? East of West #16-19 + The World June 2015 978-1632153814
East of West: The Apocalypse: Year One East of West #1-15 July 2015 978-1632154309
East of West, Volume 5: All These Secrets East of West #20-24 March 2016 978-1632156808
East of West, Volume 6: East of West #25-29 November 2016 978-1632158796
East of West: The Apocalypse: Year Two East of West #16-29 March 2017 978-1534300590

References[edit]

  1. ^ Armitage, Hugh (October 20, 2012). "NYCC: Jonathan Hickman tackles two new Image Comics titles". Digital Spy. Retrieved August 24, 2013. 
  2. ^ Fairbanks, David (October 20, 2012). "NYCC: Image Comics set to take 2013 by storm". Comics Bulletin. Retrieved August 24, 2013. 
  3. ^ Keily, Karl (July 5, 2013). "Image Expo 2013: Dragotta Heads 'East of West'". Comic Book Resources. Retrieved August 24, 2013. 
  4. ^ Arrant, Chris (February 19, 2013). "Avengers Writer Makes 4 Horsemen 'Heroes' in 'East of West'". Newsarama. Retrieved August 24, 2013. 
  5. ^ Mueller, Andy (January 2013). "The Four Horsemen Ride In Hickman's 'East of West'". Diamond Comic Distributors. Retrieved August 24, 2013. 
  6. ^ Truitt, Brian (March 26, 2013). "Horsemen ride into a dystopian future in 'East of West'". USA Today. Retrieved August 24, 2013. 
  7. ^ Dietsch, TJ (February 26, 2013). "Hickman Points 'East of West' In The Right Direction". Comic Book Resources. Retrieved August 24, 2013. 
  8. ^ Hennon, Blake (November 4, 2013). "Nick Dragotta previews ‘East of West’ 7, talks Death’s horse, Howtoons". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved January 25, 2013. 
  9. ^ Issue #1 March 2013 depicts the Horsemen, the Tracker, and the President expressing utter surprise and confusion at Death not having died.
  10. ^ Issue #3 June 2013: Famine: “And he wasn't alone. He had a witch from the Nation with him. No, wait…more than one…There were two witches.” War: “Maybe that’s how he lived."
  11. ^ Johnston, Rich (March 25, 2013). "Speculator Alert: 'East Of West' #1". Bleeding Cool. Retrieved August 24, 2013. 
  12. ^ Pepose, David (March 26, 2013). "Best Shots Advance: 'East of West', 'Green Hornet', 'Skullkickers'". Newsarama. Retrieved August 24, 2013. 
  13. ^ McElhatton, Greg (March 27, 2013). "Review: 'East of West' #1". Comic Book Resources. Retrieved August 24, 2013. 
  14. ^ Yehl, Joshua (March 27, 2013). "'East of West' #1 Review". IGN. Retrieved August 24, 2013. 
  15. ^ Grey, Melissa (April 24, 2013). "'East of West' #2 Review". IGN. Retrieved August 24, 2013. 
  16. ^ Grey, Melissa (June 5, 2013). "'East of West' #3 Review". IGN. Retrieved August 24, 2013. 
  17. ^ Grey, Melissa (July 10, 2013). "'East of West' #4 Review". IGN. Retrieved August 24, 2013. 
  18. ^ "'East of West' #5 Review". IGN. August 18, 2013. Retrieved August 24, 2013. 
  19. ^ Maçek III, J.C. (April 24, 2013). "Staying on 'Message': 'East of West' #2". PopMatters. Retrieved August 24, 2013. 
  20. ^ Sava, Oliver (August 16, 2013). "'East Of West' #5 combines romance and apocalypse with spectacular results". The A.V. Club. Retrieved August 24, 2013. 
  21. ^ McElhatton, Greg (December 18, 2013). "Review: 'East of West' #8". Comic Book Resources. Retrieved January 25, 2013. 
  22. ^ Mayo, John (October 8, 2013). "Sales Report: Crime Pays for DC Comics in September, 'East of West' Rides High". Comic Book Resources. Retrieved October 15, 2013. 
  23. ^ McMillan, Graeme (January 24, 2014). "Image Comics Named 'Publisher of the Year' by Comic Book Retailers". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved January 25, 2014. 
  24. ^ Armitage, Hugh (December 27, 2013). "Digital Spy's top ten comics of 2013". Digital Spy. Retrieved January 25, 2014. 

External links[edit]