Cameron: Filled to the brim with the excitement of a new X-Men movie and also wanting to take my mind off Bryan Singer being a terrible person (allegedly), I decided to finally getting around to checking out its source material. For years I’d been aware that Days of Future Past was considered one of the great X-Men storylines, so I could barely contain myself when picking up a trade while visiting America.
The Future Past storyline, it turns out, is only two issues in length, with the rest of the trade being filled with Nightcrawler visiting the nine circles of Hell and also some other stories that weren’t very memorable. But hey, I thought, even if the DoFP story is a little shorter than I expected, it’s still meant to be incredible. Then I read it. It’s okay.
Unpopular opinion time: the concept itself is interesting, dystopian futures and time travel generally are, but Chris Claremont is a hack. Claremont staked his claim on the X-Men franchise and wrote what many consider to be the definitive X-Men stories. Personally, I think he’s not very good at writing. I picked up the first issue of Nightcrawler the other day, and it’s equally apparent now as it should have been then: his writing is pretty subpar.
Of course reviews are entirely subjective, and I happen to know some people who love his writing, but personally this book was a real struggle. I still have high hopes for the film (Singer’s squickyness notwithstanding), but if it’s put you in the mood for some solid X-Men, maybe pick up Joss Whedon’s Astonishing run instead.
Alastair: Another column, another Image Comics title. This really is becoming a trend, isn’t it? Evidently I gotta find me some new comics! Now, on to this week’s book…
I’ll be straight with you guys – I really, really don’t know how to feel about East of West. It’s one of the stranger comics I’ve read recently, and even though I’ve read the first trade several times over, I’m still not 100 per cent sure that I like it. It strikes me as one of those books that will pay off over a long period of time – a slow burn, if you will – but for the time being, it’s a little off-putting.
Written by Jonathan Hickman (Avengers, FF), East of West follows Death (of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, no less) as he rampages across an alternate America seeking revenge for past betrayals. His first target? The President of the United States. As he rampages across the high-tech wasteland in search of vengeance, he is shadowed by his fellow Horsemen – who are also on his list, and taking the form of children for reasons as yet unknown. As he continues on his journey, he begins to unravel the machinations of the ‘Chosen’, the ones who will bring about the end of the world, and serve his former companions.
East of West reminds me a fair bit of Garth Ennis’ Preacher – Death could easily fill in for the Saint of Killers, and vice versa – only lacking its trademark humour. The gore is still there – there’s plenty of that – but it doesn’t just have the charm that made Preacher so damn appealing. That’s not to say that East of West isn’t a good book, though – Nick Dragotta’s (X-Statix, FF) art is pretty awesome and fits the story perfectly. Overall, though, the book seems like it needs more development. It’s worth a read, particularly if sci-fi/westerns are your thing. A bit on the ‘meh’ side, but it’s growing on me.
Written by Cameron Urqhuart and Alastair McGibbon