Since its debut in 2013, one of the ongoing mysteries of East of West has been how three of the Horsemen of the Apocalypse died in the past. Now we know.
I'm going to keep out of spoiler territory completely here, since this issue is one that long-term fans of East of West will need to read for themselves.
The story opens with the young incarnation of War goading Death into a confrontation at the Valley of the Gods. Death, of course, accepts that challenge.
We are flung back a score of years, to an epic battle that feels one part Samurai epic, one part Spaghetti Western, and one part Sci-fi saga. The end result is blunt in its brutality, but we have some answers now.
Jonathan Hickman is one of those writers that really knows how to weave a narrative, as evidenced by the fact that I've been absorbed by this book for six years now. The characters are so damned real, so very damaged, and so great to read.
In issue 42, we know them all a lot better.
Nick Dragotta does some of the best work he's done in the series, and that's saying something- every issue looks fantastic, but there's a dynamism at work here that is breathtaking- War's entry page is stunning, and the viscera at play in this issue is awe inspiring.
The color work from Frank Martin is such an amazingly rich complement to Dragotta's work- it's one of the best pairings in comics today.
One panel made me gasp- I'm not kidding. It's that good, that graphic.
It really feels like we're coming to a conclusion to this story, which is too bad, but all too understandable. Hickman's got his hands full with a certain mutant book over at Marvel, after all.
Then again, if Hickman an Dragotta decide to keep telling stories in this world, I'm so very there.
SUMMARY: Script: Jonathan Hickman; Art: Nick Dragotta; Colors: Frank Martin; Letters: Rus Wooton; Published By: Image Comics; Release Date: April 17, 2019; Cover Price: $3.99; 31 pages.