A Rare Quiet Moment in East of West 37

by Taylor Anderson

This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, read on at your own risk!

In the hustle and bustle of a busy day, I find that it’s the quiet moments that make me happiest. After dealing with hectic pace and many demands of the classroom, it’s nice to come home and enjoy a quiet, evening walk with my wife and dog. As nice as these quiet moments are, they’re only pleasant because they are set against the larger backdrop of a busy day. If I hadn’t had a long day, I’m not sure they would be quite as sweet. This same thing can be said of grand, dark stories like East of West. While the big narrative about the apocalypse is the main bill, it’s the quiet, smaller moments I think I enjoy best. Continue reading

East of West 36: Discussion

By Drew Baumgartner and Taylor Anderson

East of West 36

This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!

American history is longer, larger, more various, more beautiful, and more terrible than anything anyone has ever said about it.

James A. Baldwin

Drew: The sci-fi trappings of East of West can at times make its alternate history feel particularly exotic, but for better or for worse, much of its history resembles our own. I mean, sure, our own Civil War ended in just over four years, and there was no comet that brought with it an apocalyptic prophecy, but most of the makings of that world lie in the very real history of the antebellum United States. Indeed, the ugliest parts of East of West‘s history are based entirely on the truths of American slavery and Manifest Destiny — the legacies of which we’ve never truly reconciled as a nation. Case in point: the Union’s capitol is built on the literal bones of the Endless Nation, turning a symbol of our own shameful past into a potent image that had heretofore given the Union power over the Nation. It’s only by — again, literally — digging up that history that any progress can be made. Continue reading

Father and Son Bonding Time in East of West 35

by Taylor Anderson

This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, read on at your own risk!

Father and son stories have been written since the beginning of time, literally. Many myths focus on this relationship and still today there are movies, books, tv shows, and comics written about this foundational familial connection. It’s obvious to see why. The father-son relationship is…complicated…so it promises an endless well of commentary and creative ideas. And while this is true, I can’t recall ever seeing a father and son story where one member is a horseman of the Apocalypse and the other is promised to destroy the world, but in East of West this is what we have. Even though this may seem bizarre, Jonathan Hickman still finds a way to make Death and Babylon’s relationship meaningful.

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You Need Wings in East of West 34

by Taylor Anderson

This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, read on at your own risk!

The bullshit piled up so fast in Vietnam you needed wings to stay above it.

Captain Benjamin Willard, Apocalypse Now

War is a messy business. Aside from the needless death it causes, war destroys communities and families, wrecks economies, and has a way of dragging people and countries down into its bloody maw. Those who try to keep their hands clean often find, despite their best efforts, that war has a particular talent for drawing the unwilling into its embrace as well. Xiaolian Mao has tried, for 34 issues, to keep her hands out of not just war, but the apocalypse, but with attempts on her life and a final attack against her people, she finds that even she can’t avoid her part in ending the world.
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East of West 33

Today, Taylor and Drew are discussing East of West 33, originally released May 24th, 2017. As always this article contains SPOILERS.

Taylor: I recently finished watching the second season of Aziz Ansari’s Master of None, and can say that I thoroughly enjoyed it. Why exactly I like the show could be an essay unto itself, but suffice it to say that Dev, Ansari’s character, is so damn likable it makes it hard to dislike the show by extension. The reason I bring this up is to illustrate how important likable and relatable characters are to any story. Master of None is by no means perfect, but the characters are so lovable that they more than make up for any of the show’s shortcomings. East of West, by comparison, has a dearth of likable and relatable characters despite its large cast, and this often is too the detriment of the series. Issue 33, however, bucks this trend, and in so doing makes the apocalypse more engaging than it’s been in a long while.

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Weekly Round-Up: Comics Released 3/15/17

Look, there are a lot of comics out there. Too many. We can never hope to have in-depth conversations about all of them. But, we sure can round up some of the more noteworthy titles we didn’t get around to from the week. Today, we discuss Star Wars: Poe Dameron 12East of West 32Kill or Be Killed 7, and Sex Criminals 17. Also, we discussed Archie 18 on Monday, and we’ll be discussing American Gods: Shadows 1 on Tuesday, and Injection 11 on Wednesday so come back for those! As always, this article contains SPOILERS. Continue reading

East of West 31

east-of-west-31Today, Patrick and Ryan D. are discussing East of West 31, originally released February 8th, 2017. As always this article contains SPOILERS.

Patrick: In our write-up of East of West 16, over two years ago, Drew made the observation that this series “is no fun, but it might be important.” I have long considered “no fun” to be one of the more damning criticisms of this series. For all of its interesting, impactful ideas and harsh truths about human nature and the corrupting influences of power, greed and faith, East of West seldom has an enjoyable narrative to buoy its grim headiness. I now believe this to be the point. With pages and pages of static boardroom scenes, we are meant to feel the excruciatingly dull banality of evil. Writer Jonathan Hickman and artist Nick Dragotta only allow their creation to be truly exciting when the good guys actively resist the powers oppressing them. Continue reading

East of West 30

east-of-west-30

Today, Patrick and Taylor are discussing East of West 30, originally released December 27th, 2016.  As always, this article contains SPOILERS!

Taylor: The other day I was reminiscing with a colleague about the James Bond marathons that we used to watch on TV when we were young. We agreed that what we most remembered about these “Bondathons” was that it really didn’t matter when you tuned into a particular movie because every Bond movie is basically the same. Bond is always going to use cool gadgets, meet beautiful women, get in fights, and of course battle some enemy who threatens the free world. This last aspect of Bond movies is perhaps what makes them all so similar and is also why I don’t find the movies that entertaining any more. When antagonists become a rotating cast all trying to do the same thing, the formula for these movies gets old. The same goes for East of West, where so many people are vying to destroy the world that the formula for the series is beginning to get a little stale.

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East of West 24

east of west 22

Today, Patrick and Taylor are discussing East of West 24, originally released January 29th, 2015.

Taylor: Anyone who has ever regularly practiced cardio exercise can tell you about the importance of pacing. I myself ride my bike to work whenever possible, and while I’m in the saddle, I definitely fall into my usual rhythm. There’s something about finding the proper pace to your workout, race, or commute that is incredibly important to helping it run smoothly. Pace is similarly important with story telling, the only difference being that instead of a steady pace, you want one that varies and excites you. Comic books are interesting when you consider the pacing of a story. Does each issue need a varying pace or should the series as a whole vary its pace as needed regardless of individual issues. East of West is a series that seems to fall into the latter and while this is cause of equal parts frustration and excitement. Continue reading

East of West 22

east of west 22

Today, Patrick and Taylor are discussing East of West 22, originally released December 2nd, 2015.

Patrick: The world of East of West exists in a state of ceaselessly progressing apocalypse. Jonathan Hickman and Nick Dragotta’s series is appropriately grim to match the tone of a world mired in sustained war, famine, disease and death. And while that’s all terrible, it has sort of become background noise against which millions of people still lead their lives. It takes a specific moment of invasive violence to snap readers out of their apocalypse-apathy, and issue 22 doubles down on both the specificity and the invasiveness of that violence. The result is a haunting, immediate issue that preys on our fears of being attacked when we are at our most vulnerable. Continue reading