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With an abrupt introduction to the start of this series, we meet three of the bringers of the apocalypse. The three horse. . . children? With Pestilence, Famine and Conquest emerging from a literal pit of cosmic ooze.
I really like the initial treatment of the horsemen as having to be reborn as children, and go through their transformations, through puberty, every time they are brought back in to the world. This is even something that conquest comments on.
Often in media, the horsemen are portrayed as a single unit, working in tandem or at least tangentially. Even in Supernatural where they were treated very separately they still made up a wholistic unit, with a common goal in mind, namely the destruction of the world. The introduction of a divergence between the horseman as a starting point brings a new dynamic in to the equation, which is not usually seen. The appearance of Death is almost as dramatic, embodied as a very Clint Eastwood type character in a dirty west of setting. He is accompanied by two companions, Wolf and Raven, which is interesting from a mythological standpoint. In Aesop’s fables, the story of The Wolf And The Raven is a cautionary tale against listening to the flattery of others, though too little of Wolf and Raven’s relationship to eachother is seen in the first issue to give any kind of indication of their future relationship to eachother.
Overall the first issue of East of West gives great impact as an opening issue, and definitely leaves you wanting to know more, ending with a vague reference to Death’s goal and an agreement for his companions to meet him later.
Issue two takes a little more of a turn a brings up more plot points, and explaining the overall goals of the three horsemen as a group, and Death as an individual, and mostly provides a lot of explanation of The end of the second issue not only sees the introduction of a prophecy, but the introduction of Death’s wife, and his current goal. Once again looking at the mythology of the situation, Death’s wife is named Xiaolian, which translates as “lotus”, which is often used as a symbol of purity. If this is what was intended by the writer, this means that while all of the other horsemen are bent on chaos and destruction, Death is focused on purity.
Issue three picks up the pace of the story, introducing Xiaolian as an actual character, rather than just as a reference and a goal. She is quickly established as being strong challenging of the situation, in which she is captive and has been since whatever cataclysmic event took place inthe past. That exact event has still not been completely explained, which is part of what gives the story momentum. It keeps the reader going not only for the story that’s unfolding in front of us, but also makes us want to pay attention to find clues to what made this whole twisted situation. The other three horsemen continue looking for their missing fourth, “elect” a new president who will help them fulfill the prophecy, and get closer to tracking Death down. Meanwhile Death has literally come to the door and is breaking it down. The issue ends with Death’s statement that “The great wall is coming down and my judgement will follow shortly.”
In recap, we have a blend of mythologies, that creates new dynamics in established, well known stories. As someone who loves being able to look past the initial character and name choices, locations and word choices, and dig a little bit deeper in to meanings and relationships, East of West is a playground, and I’m looking forward to continuing to follow it.
What do you think of the start of the series? Do you have a favorite character? If you’re further along than I am, are my assumptions right, or am I way off base?
Let me know on twitter (@_ZenGirl_) or on my facebook page.
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