Here’s a review of East of West #11, done again in the bullet-point format. I’ve decided I’ll be adopting this format as it’s a way to better get thoughts and observations out:
- I had a theory that the world of East of West would make for a great tabletop RPG. It’s got the basic elements that go into making a tabletop roleplaying game great: a group of nations each with their own style of politics, architecture, and even fashions. There’s even an ongoing geopolitical game going on between nations trying to make and break alliances with each other. If you think about it, there’s an endless number of ideas and stories that could theoretically play out in this world. And that’s what this particular issue is about: world building and geopolitical games. Kudos goes to Hickman and Dragotta for establishing such a detailed history and world in eleven issues while still continuing to advance the plot.
- As said earlier, the name of the game here is geopolitics and international conflict, and the story is narrated, for the most part, by the shiftiest member of the Chosen: Archibald Chamberlain (who as it turns out, is an advisor to the president of the confederacy, and not its leader. This seems to be a core theme of the Chosen i.e. people who aren’t leaders plotting to take from their leaders and end the world). Seeing things from Chamberlain’s point of view really shows the different nation’s attitudes and methods of warfare. The two most interesting notions coming from this are Archibald’s observations on the PRA and the Endless Nation. The Endless Nation is the one Chamberlain is most wary of, as they are the nation we have seen the least of and know the least about. Meanwhile, the PRA are labeled as the first to make a move in war, and as the most aggressive. Chamberlain’s snakelike narration makes all of this believable, and Hickman, who can often be a same-y writer, has really diversified his wordplay and dialogue structures to make the cast members feel like individuals.
- I’m really hoping the next issue is a roundtable discussion between the leaders of the nations because even if it’s an overused trope in Hickman’s comics (and it really is, especially in New Avengers), it’s always great to see posturing among leaders and plots to make dangerous moves before anyone else.
- Dragotta absolutely kills it here, even when he isn’t given much to do in terms of visual excitement. The designs for the representatives/leaders of the endless nation are gorgeous, and come across as an intermingling of Egyptian and Native American designs loaded with a healthy dose of Science Fiction. Dragotta also really makes distinct landscapes everywhere. He still draws weird-looking Asians though.
- A theory or possible plot point that I’ve seen going around on the internet says that Cheveyo (who “died” last issue) had a falling out with the leaders of the endless nation because they embraced technological advancement while he embraced the old ways of magic, and therefore lives in The Graveyard to keep the old ways alive. This makes a boatload of sense, and actually sort of ties back into that thing I said at the beginning where the world of East of West is practically made for a tabletop RPG, because of things like this. There are seeds being woven that haven’t even been mentioned in concrete by the author and it’s wonderful.
As a whole, East of West #11 could have been a lot more exciting than it actually was. But then again, we did just get an issue of balls to the wall action and advancement prior to this. We needed a breather supposedly, and as far as breathers go, this was pretty good. One can only hope that the next issue takes this roundtable somewhere big, because any other alternative would seem like disappointment.
My Score: 4/5