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”?
Things really heated up with issue #4. Death breached the Great Wall of the PRA, the 3 horsemen had a chat with a post-coital Chamberlain, and Death’s Love, Xiaolian, became very scary. Let’s get in there:
East of West #4
Page 8, Panel 1:
I couple of months ago, I proffered that Death might need his victims to say his name before he kills them. He remarked on it twice in as many issues, though I’m not sure I believe that it’s meant to be taken entirely hard and fast as a “rule.” Still, it is spoken once again here, presumably by the crier of Mao’s army, making a war speech as they set themselves to defend against Death’s imminent coming.
Page 8, Panel 6:
Where does Death get those wonderful toys? Nick Dragotta’s mech designs in this series are beautiful.
Page 13, Panel 1:
The apple didn’t fall far from the tree, obviously.
“The revolutionary war is a war of the masses; it can be waged only by mobilizing the masses and relying on them.”
“Be resolute, fear no sacrifice and surmount every difficulty to win victory.”
These are both real-life Chairman Mao quotes and we can see that those principles have definitely been applied here in Mao III’s rule over the PRA region of the Seven Nations.
Page 21, Panel 3-5:
Recall that in issue #2 Death showed up at the Black Tower, where Chamberlain resides. They formed something of a pact when Chamberlain delivered Death the information that Xiaolian was still alive and being held within the walls of the PRA. It remains to be seen what Chamberlain will get out of this deal (besides an extension on his life lease), but we know that deals like this in fiction are rarely as simple as what the two men already agreed upon. Furthermore, I remain skeptical that Death will hold up his end of the bargain. After all, Death seems like a determined man of his word, and he was dead-set on taking the lives of all of “The Chosen.” Needless to say, the relationship between Chamberlain and Death isn’t resolved yet and it will be extremely interesting to see how it all eventually plays out.