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

The View from the Edges of The Black Monday Murders 8

by Ryan Desaulniers 

Black Monday Murders 8

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

The Edge… there is no honest way to explain it because the only people who really know where it is are the ones who have gone over.

Hunter S. Thompson

Ryan D: If there’s one incredible thing about being a comic reader nowadays, it’s that we are privy to so many new worlds being built, month to month, in front of us. In a time when so much of Hollywood’s machinations revolve around rehashing existing properties, comic books (alongside maybe the slew of Netflix-style originals) lead the charge for the new and exciting. When encountering one of these new universes, it’s always interesting to see how we are introduced to the mechanics inherent in them. How much does the creative team tip their hand as issues progress? Black Monday Murders 8 shows us how confident writer Jonathan Hickman is at keeping both the audience and its characters on the edge of this world. Continue reading

Best of 2017: Best Writers

Best Writers

In such a collaborative medium as comics, it can be difficult to say where a writer’s influence on the story ends, but there’s no question on where it begins: words on the page. Whether they thrill, elate, chill, or deflate, the best writers create characters, settings, and situations we want to return to, again and again. These are our top 10 writers of 2017. 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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Finding a Balance in The Black Monday Murders 6

by Ryan Desaulniers

Black Monday Murders 6

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

If you know Jonathan Hickman’s past work, you know he can get…complicated. Reading The Black Monday Murders 1-5 to catch up for last month’s full conversation proved a deep dive into an intricate world full of ancient conspiracy theories, old money, the occult, convoluted machinations, epistolary inserts, and shadow-soaked boardroom conversations. This issue returns to show some of the fallout of the recent occurrences and again displays Hickman and artist Tomm Coker’s tightrope walk approach to action, exposition, and reaction. Continue reading

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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The Black Monday Murders 5

Alternating Currents: The Black Monday Murders 5, Drew and Ryan D

Today, Drew and Ryan D. are discussing The Black Monday Murders 5, originally released April 26th, 2017. As always, this article contains SPOILERS.

Drew: Whether it was identifying the types of places our predators preferred to hunt or what kinds of mushrooms made us sick, pattern recognition was essential to the survival of early humans. As with any tool, though, our reliance on pattern recognition distorts our view of the world, leading us to find patterns where none exist — as they say, if all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail. That quality can be manipulated, on the one hand by those who seek to benefit from our gullibility, and on the other by artists who strive to highlight the beauty in the chaos. I found myself thinking about both groups as I read The Black Monday Murders 5, an issue full of intricately patterned beauty and intricately patterned lies. Continue reading

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