Welcome back to This American Death, Multiversity’s monthly annotations column on Jonathan Hickman & Nick Dragotta’s “East of West” from Image Comics. I’ll be taking you through each issue of and explaining references, tossing out theories, and keeping track of some of the major events while giving them context. Since I won’t catch nearly everything the book has to offer and have been wrong plenty of times in my life, I’d love to see your thoughts and theories pop up in the comments section below.
Special thanks to the incomparable Tim Daniel for the great banner we’ve been using!
Keep in mind that we’ll be spoiling every issue, because I’m going to assume you’ve already read the issues. Why else would you be reading an annotations column on “East of West”?
This month, there’s a new quick trigger in town (and he wears a bad ass helmet), Bel Solomon runs his ass off, and it’s starting to sound like someone’s making up “The Message” as they go along:
East of West #6
“There is a traitor here.”
Who’s got money on a villain emerging that causes the actual “traitor” of The Message to be neither Bel Solomon nor Chamberlain himself – the man we’re clearly supposed to believe is a slippery sort of snake? (Well, actually I think he’s a bad ass)
Calling out Solomon as the traitor was an obvious ploy on Chamberlain’s part, though the fact remains that Solomon is a skeptic, who betrays the identities of “The Chosen.” He sells them out later to the Texas Ranger, which we’ll talk about a bit further down the page. He’s clearly meant to be the traitor at this point, but I feel more strongly about Antonia LeVay being a bigger bad down the road.
I’m just getting a really ominous feeling about Antonia LeVay – a person I singled out in issue #2 for her namesake connection to the occultist Anton LeVay. She also appears to know The Message most faithfully – or knows it well enough to manipulate its meaning to her whims. Either way, there is obviously something going on with this lady whether she’s quote-unquote a “traitor” or not. No one else is well-established yet, so someone else could emerge. I think she’s the odds-on favorite for bigger trouble down the road.
The Message or the Man Behind the Curtain?
“East of West” #6 basically began with a changing of the rules for “The Chosen”, which makes me suspect that The Message is either being manipulated by somebody and these people are all pawns (except for, perhaps, the traitor) or there’s someone behind the curtain trying to put this apocalypse on and using The Message as an “all-powerful, prophecy-based” way to do it. Think about it. The opening scene was basically “Oh hey, all you guys and gals who thought you knew how this was going to go? Yeah, well, actually it’s going to go like this.”
Maybe I’m way off-base here, but that would even further explain Antonia LeVay’s deeper knowledge of what The Message means. She’s in on it somehow. I got a real “Calvinball” feel from the way that there was a new interpretation of The Message all of a sudden – like it’s being made up or something. Something’s not on the level.
Crying for justice
I love the way this panel is staged. You’ll see this again in Saturday Morning Panels here at Multiversity Comics this week.
We got a really fascinating, economically-told characterization for a new player in the “East of West” landscape: a Texas Ranger, out for vengeance. He, like apparently so many other, has been wronged by The Chosen. He holds contempt for people in power. Like Judge Dredd, he fancies himself as the law. Like the Punisher, he’s going to go around righting wrongs with brutal killings of people that “deserve” it. Here, the judge dies for being a power-hungry (also apparently just hungry, in general – Wokka wokka!) abuser of power. The “innocent” Phillip Hollingsworth dies by the Ranger’s hand, because the judge was apparently receiving benefits under the table in exchange for his family’s legal protection.Continued below
So, do we like this guy? I’m not sure yet.
It was fun to see Bel Solomon as the prosecuting attorney against Hollingsworth. He was like a real Andy Griffith-style southern lawyer gentleman. Good stuff.
Did anyone else think “Hollingsworth” could have been a shoutout to Matt Hollingsworth, one of comics most prolific and talented current colorists? (He’s the colorist on “Hawkeye”, among many others.)
Neo-American Illuminati Hunting
Whoa! Maybe Bel Solomon is the biggest snake here? He sells out “The Chosen” to the Texas Ranger, and clearly painted them as a gang of five when speaking of them – declining to include himself. The Ranger is on to him though – and plans to make him pay just as much as the others for being part of this conspiratorial event.