“There’s hope for you yet, young man.”: East of West, Issue Nineteen

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EAST OF WEST #19 IMAGE COMICS
ARTIST: NICK DRAGOTTA WRITER: JONATHAN HICKMAN
COLORIST: FRANK MARTIN LETTERER: RUS WOOTON

In an ensemble-based story, there’s always an inherent risk in ignoring most of the cast for one or two characters. It’s not uncommon for it to happen- it’s quite likely that an ensemble story will do it quite a few times, even- but it poses the risk of straying from important plotlines for too long, and causing a reader to forget what certain characters are up to. It’s highly unlikely that the creators of East of West don’t know this, which means the choice to focus an issue completely on Babylon and Balloon was a conscious and important one. We still don’t know what Babylon will grow up to be, but Jonathan Hickman and Nick Dragotta are firmly set on making this his story, even if he missed the majority of East of West’s first year, and #19 serves as their mission statement for his future, reflected in Balloon.

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The Road Not Taken: East of West, Issue Eighteen

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In his database, Babylon has Robert Frost’s famous poem “The Road Not Taken” listed as “Art: Poetry: Worst ever: Frost, Robert.” For anyone who’s gone through the American school system, seeing Babylon take such a harsh stance against one of the most famous poems in history may bring up any number of feelings. Whatever those feelings are, the idea of having multiple ways to go about one’s life is one heavy in the mind of the Prophet Ezra Orion, who alongside Babylon takes center stage in this issue.

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The Sun Is Not Rising: East of West, Issue 16

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East of West is the only comic that Image Comics is releasing today. It’s an appropriate choice, considering what the issue deals with- on the cusp of the new year, here we see the new year in another world, one with the rare distinction of seeming as defined as our own. It’s 2065, the second year of the apocalypse, and things have changed in the world rapidly hurtling towards the end of days. Particularly, it’s different for the Republic of Texas, which has been taken over by the Endless Nation; while we deal with a large amount of cast members in this issue, our appropriately placed focus lies on the now dethroned Governor Bel Solomon and the last of The Rangers, on the run.

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The Arena In Which We Are Tested: East of West: The World

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East of West is one of those books that has the unique place of being completely unlabelable. The story goes that it’s supposed to be a sci-fi/western, but it’s also firmly rooted in fantasy, biblical and various Native American mythologies, alternative histories and revenge stories. Part of what has made its enormously complicated story so immersive is its vast universe, which started as just a simple map in the back of the first issue and has since sprawled out to create a massively populated and ridiculously well-defined world. East of West: The World calls itself a “Sourcebook/Atlas/Encyclopedia/Timelines/Apocrypha”, and that’s a bit of an overstatement- it’s only 39 pages, not hundreds, as this book would probably need- but that doesn’t mean it’s not fun, interesting and crafted lovingly.

To celebrate its release, we’re going to dissect the eight sections of this one-shot a bit. While not all of the information we gain here appears to be especially important or new, we do learn a lot, even in very small bits. It seems that there’s a bit of a timeskip between the point of the story this one-shot describes and when we last left East of West, too, and that makes this a great appetizer for East of West‘s second year when it starts on New Year’s Eve.

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