Hickman, Jonathan & Nick Dragotta. East of West, Vol. 1: The Promise.

Berkeley: Image Comics, 2013.

I read a lot of graphic novels and it’s been my experience that in the majority of cases, either the story is much better than the artwork or the art is much better than the writing. This is one of the latter cases, with some very original and sensitive pen work by Dragotta, but an incoherent plot and confused characters from Hickman.

(I had the same problem with Hickman’s The Manhattan Projects, which made no sense to me at all.) Apparently, this is an alternate history sort of story with several very different nations sharing the North American continent. And (apparently) it’s time for the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse to make an appearance, though the reasons for this aren’t given. But one of them — Death, in cowboy duds — has gone off on his own in pursuit of . . . I’m not sure what. Followers of the Message, which appears to be a prophecy or something. Anyway, Death has a wife and kid — I think. Throughout, there are lots of bodies and lots of lines that sound like a bad screenplay. And after a great many puzzling pages, you find out that this is only the first installment. Sorry, but I won’t be pursuing it.

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