Hickman and Dragotta’s post-apocalyptic morality play takes a breather this month, going from the giant battles and shocking storylines to a quieter origin tale about Armistice. While it doesn’t push the main plot forward, it’s still an important issue that helps fill in some unexplained blanks and give us a better view of how things came to be.
Starting off right after Bel’s escape (seen in #6), The Horsemen have an angry debate about the fate of Ezra, one of the keepers of The Message. We lack an attachment to Ezra, so the cruelty of the three seems to be business as usual. Hickman’s dialogue always seems to pop during their conversations, mixing malevolence and playfulness to keep readers questioning what the bringers of the apocalypse will do next. Dragotta has brought plenty of bizarre characters into this world, but his demon worm might just be the strangest. It’s highly recommend rereading the opening pages after you’ve hit the end of the book. It’ll bring the full weight of the scene into focus.
We only get a quick few panels with Death and his band this time. It’s mysterious, as is true for East of West in general, and is probably going to begin the process of Death finding his son and captors. That reveal a few issues back is still a shocker. It’s the core of the story and one wonders what exactly is at the bottom of that giant spiral staircase. Hickman excels at creating these mysteries. The series has a slow burn feeling to it and requires patience to see it through. If you were hoping for more shape changing and laser rays, this issue might disappoint.
The last half of the book details the rise of Ezra and the building of Armistice, and should provide slight answers regarding the overall importance of that particular structure and the power Horsemen possess over humans. It’s a well-done piece of world building that was needed due to the global nature of the narrative. We’ve been whisked away all over the apocalypse, so it’s nice to have a more focused look. I really enjoyed seeing the level of devotion The Message inspires. Themes of religion and faith have never run stronger. Hickman is turning this series into an allegory of both our present and our history, and everyone will draw their own positive or negative connections.
This was never meant to be a comic made for jumping in. It requires dedication, patience and plenty of rereading to understand everything. Thankfully, the TPB of issues 1-5 recently came out, so playing catch-up works out nicely. Hickman rewards serious readers this month with an explanation of recent events and a deeper understanding of his finely tuned world. The main plot stalls a bit, but that’s to be expected in a flashback issue. Dragotta’s art continues to be strange and twisted and beautiful. Hop into this series now, because the next few issues promise to pick up the pace.
Alex Smith is a news and reviews writer for Capeless Crusader. When not wasting away in class, he spends all his free time with comics, movies, and video games, and has been since birth. He can spend hours discussing Saga, Hawkeye, or Game of Thrones. Lying Cat’s number one fan. Random brain thoughts: @imapensfan