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East of West #22 Review

By now we’ve all come to realize how talented Hickman is in creating dynamic and engaging stories. However, in this month’s issue Hickman provides a unique, minimalist approach void of all dialogue besides the very last page. Is it good?

East of West #22 (Image Comics)

As much as I’ve enjoyed this series, it’s been a while since I’ve read an issue considering I’ve missed the last volume or so. I was persuaded to read this month’s issue because it was posed as a quick read due its obvious lack of text. Why I was ever skeptical of this issue, I’ll never know because Dragotta takes this opportunity and runs with it. What I was met with was one of the most gripping, action packed sequences I’ve seen from East of West, easily making it one of the most entertaining comics in the past several weeks.

This issue is dedicated entirely to an assassination attempt by a mysterious band of men on Death’s wife. The war between the nations is nearing a climax and this event clearly reflects the tension felt not only felt between the immediate combatants, but between the nations as a whole. With the vast majority of the issue taking place in a bathhouse, the panels are filled with violence, blood, and nudity (what’s not to love folks?). While I was initially skeptical of the necessity for the nudity, I’ve settled with the belief that it does contribute a sufficient amount to the storyline to make it acceptable. For example, the lack of clothes conveys Xiaolian’s vulnerability at the time, feeling “stripped” and forced to rely on her own abilities to survive, and above all else, it makes for some damn good fight scenes.

The fight sequence is reminiscent of something from Kill Bill with the long flowing black hair, swords, and blood everywhere. With the addition of panels focused on a timer clicking down throughout the issue, you really start feeling the anxiety of the scenario. The issue ends with a full page panel and features the only dialogue although at that point the image itself would have sufficed as it reveals the individual behind the attack.

Is It Good?

Issue #22 serves as a great stand-alone comic to fans of the series and those who have never read. The lack of dialogue makes Dragotta’s artwork that much more powerful as he’s able to singlehandedly convey one of the most exciting issues of the series. This should be at the top of your pull-lists this week.

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