Friday, October 17, 2014

A new fancy: "East of West"

I was at Bombshell Comics in Hattiesburg the other day, seeing if a new "Prophet" had come in and I got invited to peruse a new offering ... "East of West".  It's a post apocalyptic western that mixes "Call of Cthulhu", "The Outlaw Josey Wales" and "Bladerunner" all together in a delightful blend.

In other words, it's my kind of weird and I have pretty high standards for weird.

It's an alternate America.  Sometime during the American Civil War a comet hit North America forever changing the world.  America is divided into high tech versions of the Union, the Confederacy, Texas, a nation of Freedmen (ex-slaves), the Endless Nations (all the Indian tribes joined together) and an outcast of China which has established a new Chinese empire on the west coast.

All are divided into their areas and at the center point where all of their territories meet is the impact crater of the comet.

Basically the story involves the end times, a group called "The Chosen" which is a cult trying to bring about the end of the world and the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse.  Only, it's the three Horsemen because when Pestilence, Famine and Conquest awaken they find that Death has already awakened and been working for some time without them.  In fact, Death has found his soul mate, fallen in love, had a child and had his wife and child stolen from him.

This has tended to make Death a little pissed off.

Death finds that not only has he been betrayed, but that his wife and child are both alive.

His son has been kidnapped and is being groomed to be the "Beast of the Apocalypse" in an isolation facility where the child is being programmed by "The Chosen" as the ultimate weapon and conqueror of the world, a living means to the end of the world.

Death itself is a pretty neat character.  He's dressed all in white, from head to toe, long white hair, white albino skin and he carries traditional, albeit, high-tech western style weaponry.  

He reminds me a lot of Michael Moorcock's "Elric" if "Elric" had been cast to play the title role in "The Outlaw Josey Wales."  Death has some great lines in the comic, one of my favorite being his retort to one of the major power brokers in the storyline when he tells him "I beg to fucking differ." which itself made me chuckle out loud.  Not since "Firefly" and Captain Malcolm Reynolds have I liked a character as much as I've started liking this personification of Death.

This is what weird science fiction westerns should be about / like.

Death is a bad ass and stares down entire armies.  He wades through legions with six guns blazing, riding a mechanical robot horse that has a head that fires a devastating beam that reminds me of the hyperwave gun on the Space Battleship Yamato.  In other words, he's well equipped to deal his trade.

Death is travelling with two companions, "Crow" and "Wolf", both extremely powerful witches from the Endless Nations ... 

Crow is something not human, a female in shape only that can turn into a cloud of black crows that tear the eyes out of her enemies and tear them apart.  Wolf is an Indian who turns into a pack of white wolves that, well, pretty much tear his enemies apart.  Death, therefore, goes into battle aided by lots of snarling white wolves and a black cloud of killer crows.  It's magic, it fits, and when it happens it's effective.

And then there's the Cthulhu-like horror

There's mystical and mythical and just plain Lovecraftian-type plots going on.  Stories within stories, arcs within arcs.  Not since reading "Jonah Hex" as a child or the late '70's / early '80's of "Heavy Metal" magazine have I found something that catches my fancy like this story does (well, this and "Prophet").

So, it's good to be a kid again.

I don't read many comics but when I do, they're good ones.

I have high standards for weird and "East of West", so far, fulfills all of those standards and exceeds expectations.  If your tastes in weird run close to mine, give it a try.  "East of West" may make you a lot of not unhappy.