“First I’ll build a sword
Get some words to explain
It’s a plan, brother, at least
And I’ll pretend that everybody here wants peace”
By Jonathan Hickman, Nock Dragotta & Frank Martin
With nearly three dozen issues published, it is instructive to glance over the pacing of Jonathan Hickman’s creator owned series, East of West. The first two arcs were densely plotted, bursting with exposition yet simultaneously possessing a full-throttle forward momentum. Character beats would explode into bristling action set-pieces viscerally rendered by co-creator Nick Dragotta. Then Hickman reined in the violence a little, shifting focus to the various political machinations of key players. The series did not grow tamer as much as take a breather while various characters gathered their strength. At the same time, Hickman sowed plots and divisions amidst the parties, steadily ramping the tension back up again. In recent issues the simmering pot approached full boil as several conflicts come to a head, resulting in this week’s rampant carnage. Yet, in the midst of this hectic activity (stunningly illustrated as always by Dragotta) Hickman delivers a thoughtful script which continues elaborating on the themes of his story.