OK, so, I have been making an effort to write out longer reviews of late. I noticed a lot of my earlier work, unless I had something I had a lot to say on, were generally two, maybe three really short paragraphs and a rating. Part of that is due to wanting to avoid unintended spoilers, and part of it was to make sure I wasn’t getting lazy or something along those lines.
Trades like the 9th, and penultimate, volume of East of West really challenge that effort.
What makes something like East of West so difficult to say much on is in part the brevity of this volume. There are only four issues in this trade, and that makes it at least a little difficult to say much of substance without ruining what does happen. Much of this trade is setting up the pieces for a final conflict of some kind. Death’s wife Mao Xiaolian is moving her forces into position to attack her enemies while Confederate president Archibald Chamberlain is looking to get a front row seat to see his enemies destroyed. Texas Governor Bel Solomon, one of the few Chosen looking to avert the end of everything, is still being held by Chamberlain as a prisoner, and Wolf, Death’s former companion and now leader of the Endless Nation and prophet of the Message thanks to something he ate, is hoping Mao’s people will just pack up and go home (they won’t).
Meanwhile, War, Famine, and Conquest have caught up to Death and his son Babylon. Famine and Conquest are true believers. War, however, has a personal grudge against Death for reasons revealed in a flashback showing how Death had previous killed the other three.
Now, that’s a lot, and the whole “Death killed the other three” thing has been part of the series’s backstory for quite some time, so that probably doesn’t count as a spoiler. But really.,..most of this trade feels like a lot of “hurry up and wait”. It’s understandable. No East of West trade has been particularly thick, and I don’t think it has ever had much in the way of individual storyarcs so much as one long story. I like this series a lot, I have the final trade in my “read this soon” stack, and that’s about all I have to say at this time. I will hopefully have more to say when I finish the final trade, but this a series with a fairly slow pace that is well worth the effort to read, but harder to write about. Big things do happen, but I can’t often say much about them, and the way writer Jonathan Hickman has plotted this out, in the past it may have been more than a few issues to get back to what looked like a suspenseful cliffhanger.
That last part won’t be happening again as there is only one trade left. But as for this one…
9 out of 10 instances of The Waiting Game for the reader.