TNTM Trade of The Week: East of West Volume 3
JONATHAN HICKMAN @JHickman
NICK DRAGOTTA @NickDragotta
East of West is one of those series that is an epic of biblical proportions, literally and figuratively. Helmed by the superstar writer, Jonathan Hickman, you ought to know its going to be epic. Rising legend, Nick Dragotta, seals the deal of epicness with his art. Unlike the second volume I feel like this one stands on its own pretty well.
What I mean by that is volume 3 did not seem to require too much info from the previous volumes. I've read the previous volume but it had been a year or two by this point and time. I won't deny that at times I wish I had recently read the other two trades but for the most part that wasn't the case. This book was mostly about the House of Mao proclaiming war. The House of Mao calls a meeting with all the other countries to proclaim this. Immediately you start seeing how this affects different people in power in other countries. They meet at a place of neutral and peaceful ground called The Wall. Treachery, violence, and death ensues despite it all. Elsewhere, Death has just lost his most viable chance for finding his son as the four horsemen confront the child. This story is twisted, at every angle. There is no hope, just lesser evils. If you're looking for a hopeful story you won't find it here. It's as bleak as they come.
The same cannot be said about the art. If the art was as bleak as the story this series would probably fail. Luckily Nick Dragotta fills each page and panel with plenty of color and life no matter how dark, dire, and death filled the story is. Make no mistake, the art isn't contrasting to the story. It's as dark, evil, vile, disturbing, ugly, graphic, odd, creepy, grotesque, disgusting, and frightening as it needs to be. At the same time it can be beautiful, elegant, charming, warm, humorous, and intriguing when appropriate as well. Each character is drawn with a lot of personality and their own unique voice. You can literally almost hear their tone, accent, volume, delivery. I've never been so impressed and interested in blood, guts, and dead bodies. It's just so colorful, detailed, and mesmerizing.
As mesmerizing as the art is though I have to say that you can tell this is but a small chink in a long chain of stories, volumes, and issues. I'm so glad I don't read this in issues because the story is so slow, long, and drawn out at times. Heck even as I read it in trade, I imagine this story would be best in a large collection, like a compendium or something like that. I'm not trying to sell this book short but you can tell that Hickman & Dragotta are in this for the long haul. Though this graphic novel does a solid job of standing on its own it's just a small slice of a big pie. I give this book a BUY. If you don't mind the slowness of it all it might be higher up there for you. I do love a good build but this is just a little too drawn out for me.