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!
It’s “shut the door, have a seat” month at “East of West” as the leaders of the Seven Nations sit down for a very serious discussion.
East of West #11
“Peace is but a prelude to war”
Through one of Jonathan Hickman’s signature minimalist interstitial pages, those are the words that “East of West” #11 opens on. It’s another way of saying that there’s a calm before the storm, but throughout the issue, it proves to mean a little something else. What onlookers might mistake for peace actually manifests itself as internal conflict through nearly every principle player in the Seven Nations. That’s the very theme of the issue, in fact: inner turmoil and the many forms it can take.
Here, debate furiously swirls about Xiaolian’s head as she meditates on the matters being discussed. Certainly qualifies as an internal conflict, albeit a bit more metaphysically than usual.
In the very next sequence, Chamberlain debates himself on the merits of acting for or against “the Chosen”, even though he’s already set things in motion which he may ultimately regret.
See, this whole issue is about inner conflict. Here we’ve got Bel Solomon with a gun to his head over horrifying, violent nightmares he’s been having. To draw the line back, remember that in issue #6, Chamberlain pointed to Solomon as the traitor in the group – which led to the divining, tentacled “Beast” rabidly chasing Bel out of Armistice – barely escaping with his life. The madness is creeping in.
Finally, the internal familial conflict in The Kingdom line of succession continues on, providing the best comedic moment of the issue.
Keep your eye on the ball. The eyeball, that is.
Oh, by the way, in case you didn’t pick up on it – that’s one of the Oracle’s eyeballs that Chamberlain has in a humidor. If you’re following along at home, the bartender from the early issues has one that he keeps behind an eyepatch. Solomon either has the other one, or somehow got the one from the bartender. Or, hell, maybe there are even more oracles or talking eyeballs running around? I’m putting my money on it just being the 2nd eyeball of the Oracle we’ve seen.
Boy, I hope he keeps that eye moist though.
“I see you, Dragons. I see you, Widowmakers.”
Xiaolian’s speech in the scene before she leaves the PRA nation is pretty much the same thing that her father, the former emperor, said before his death in issue #4. In fact, a couple of phrases are repeated verbatim. Seems we do become our parents, after all. Not to project too much onto what Hickman’s doing here, but the cyclical nature of things is a thematic device that works so well in storytelling, because the parallels are subtle and subtextual, especially when you wait a month between issues.
“The Endless Nation has arrived.”
Chamberlain goes to great lengths to explain that The Endless Nation (the decidedly Native American contingent of the Seven Nations) is the most powerful, most fearsome group at the table. Truth be told, they’re the segment that we’ve certainly spent the least amount of time with, which is what makes their appearance at the end of this issue such a cause for fanfare. It will be interesting to see what makes them so imposing, in practice. In theory, they’re the original Americans, if “East of West” shares the same starting point as the North America of today. You could say that they are the “Endless” nation, because of that very endurance.Continued below
I will say this: bolo ties with business suits is nothing to fool around with.