East of West fans have been anticipating this issue for quite some time now as the publisher decided to skip the month of August. Issue 15 marks the end of Volume 3 for this epic series, but it feels like more a beginning than an end. The question is, is it good?
East of West #15 (Image Comics)
When we left off all the way back in July, we witnessed the first action in the upcoming war with The Nation (aka the tech-savvy Native Americans) symbolically destroying The Tower of Armistice and then firing upon The Republic of Texas. The issue ended with Death journeying to the Lair of the Beast to rescue his son while the other three horsemen began their descent into the Lair to destroy the child. With all these motions set in place, readers kind of had a lot riding on this climatic issue and we weren’t disappointed.
Unlike other issues, this issue sticks to only two storylines. The first third of the comic examines the House of Mau, specifically Xiaolian as she discusses the upcoming war and the inevitable demise of the Republic of Texas. She has some flashbacks to discussions she had with her father when she was held captive. This first part of the issue relatively slow, especially because we’re waiting to see what is going down at The Lair. Luckily it doesn’t last too long and the rest of the issue is dedicated the horseman’s pursuit of the boy.
With such a pivotal point in the plot, I don’t want to spoil anything, but I will say that The Beast has awakened and has now gone mobile. We get some action scenes that pick up the pace in the issue and fill any cravings for drama that we had going in. East of West is notorious for having quality, cliffhanger endings and by the end of this issue you’ll have that roller coaster sensation (the one you get when faced with impending doom) where it feels like your stomach drops. Like I mentioned before, this issue feels more like a beginning than an end now that characters have been rearranged, agendas have shifted, and everyone is on the precipice of all-out war. Spoiler Discussion: The only thing I don’t understand is why Balloon didn’t just side with the three horsemen. Obviously he is tainting Babylon’s perception in attempts to destroy the world, but isn’t that what the horsemen want as well? My only guess is that Balloon wants to create anew and rule, while the horsemen simply want to watch everything burn.
Is It Good?
The wait is well worth it. Issue #15, appropriately named Awake Babylon, does a great job of ending current storylines and setting up even more. Despite the slow beginning, everything is right on target and Hickman continues to deliver a knockout series.