With East of West #29 upon us, it marks the end of year two for the apocalypse, the beginning of the end, and what an ending it was. East of West has always had a lot of moving parts. In a sense, it’s an epic. Finally seeing all those moving parts come together to form the rolling momentum it’s been building towards, has been well worth the wait. It might seem like a lot has already happened, but if you’ve been keeping up with the series since the beginning, the end times have only just begun. Having year two close out on a more personal note though, was just the right thing to do, especially after so many cliff hangers, and flipping of the script.
As I sat down to write this, I actually had to take a step back, and pour over previous East of West, because there is just so much going on in this comic. The continuity of this comic goes to show just how talented Jonathan Hickman is as a writer. As well as Nick Dragotta matching said writing with his art. Seriously, it can be hard to keep up with everything going on when you have such an intelligent comic touching on many things at once, while also keeping pace with its own personal story. At the end of year one, it left off with the beginning of war, and what a cost it’s already been for all of the players in the great game (as they refer to it). If year one was the start of war, those were skirmishes compared to what’s about to come down from on high for year three of the apocalypse.
Yet, this was not the focus of East of West #29, instead Hickman/Dragotta finally treated the audience to a moment that we’ve all been waiting for, the reunion of father and son. This goes all the way back to issue #1. The whole time, I was reading this issue, as well as issue #28, all I could think was “Please let Death find Babylon”, his son, and it finally happened. Of course, not before Babylon had some things to deal with that were a bit out of his control. The last time we saw Babylon face off against baddies, it was against opponents he knew, enemies he had been studying. Now that he’s out in the open world, things are quite different. The world can be an unpredictable place, and Babylon learns this first hand.
Babylon almost has his life taken from him, twice in this issue, and both times he had saviors come to his rescue. The first savior being Balloon, the A.I. intelligence he’s been attached to since he was stolen from Death and Mao. And the second savior being Death, his father. I remember in the beginning months of this comic, how much I was rooting for this not so happy family to be reunited. Continuity be damned though, because if East of West sticks to its guns, this family will never be reunited. As stated in issue #17, “For after those few days, the House of Mao and her Horseman never saw each other again.” It’s nice to see a win for the protagonist of our story (or Anti-hero), however you want to look at Death, either way he got what he’s been seeking.
East of West has always had a way of turning the tables just when the reader might think they know what’s going to happen, and so as I came to that dreaded moment, I really didn’t know how it was going to play out. I ended up rereading the same panels a few times just to make sure my eyes weren’t deceiving me. And they were not, Death as well as the audience is treated to another of the few heartfelt moments in the bloody story that is East of West, and it was a breath of fresh air. Having it play out the way it did was exactly what it should have been. Aside from the few times Death has been with Mao, I think this might be the softest Death has been so far in the story. He truly loves his family, and will do anything to make sure they are together.
“A Lotus, the death and resurrection of love.” – Issue #5: The Message
Babylon now that the audience is more familiar with him, is quite the funny kid. Yes, he’s been reared by an A.I. designed specifically to bring about the end times, but he’s always maintained that thing that makes a living thing something unique, his ego, his perseverance for self. At the same time, there’s that brain of his acting like a computer, even though it is not. Even Death, makes a comment on this however light heartedly, he’s just happy to finally meet his son.
This might be one of my favorite moments in the series so far, like I stated, I really didn’t know how this would play out. Babylon is still having his entire perception of the world altered because of what he is attached to (I seriously have been thinking for a good year Babylon would try and kill Death), and even Balloon warns Death against removing the helmet put on him when he was taken. It makes one wonder how much control Balloon has over Babylon, and how much Balloon is looking out for itself. It is an A.I. after all, self-preservation is the name of the game. Death is sweet in his acceptance of this, and is obviously just happy to be with his son. His reunion with Babylon is one that any father would have after searching for their child for so long, one of comfort. He embraces Babylon, while realizing even if it’s only a little, just what Babylon has become.
The last page of them specifically speaks volumes about this family’s personal story, in general. Having father and son ride off into the sunrise, together, is the biggest of metaphors of what’s to come. Death is going to teach his son the ways of the world, and the reader knows the world is in a right sorry state, having escalated to full blown Armageddon. Not only is the apocalypse in full swing, but the other Horseman are not to be forgotten about, and with the end of this issue we are given a cold reminder of this.
What’s to come in year three, who’s to say, Hickman and Dragotta have built quite the story up to this point. I’m excited to see where it goes from here, as aforementioned, a lot of moving parts. When I talk about East of West, I can’t help but think of another of Image’s big epic’s I’ve been reading, Saga. Unlike Saga though, things are much more localized, as far the stage goes, the cast of characters are known, I have a feeling all that’s about to change with year three. East of West has only been focused on a small portion of the world and what a big world it is. I look forward to what’s to come, while also a bit nervous, not for the stories sake, but because I just don’t know what’s going to happen, and it ended on such a positive note (aside from the three other horseman coming out of their cocoons). Whatever happens, I look forward to Year Three of the apocalypse and I’m sure Hickman/Dragotta will deliver.
East of West #29 can be found online or at your local comic shop, and if you’re really digging it I’m sure the omnibus for Year Two won’t be far behind. I know I’ll be picking it up.