I had to read the first issue of East of West a few times in order to fully understand what was going on. There is a ton to process in the opening sequences and there are no formal introductions to the characters in the book. Art-wise this is one gorgeous book, the combo of Hickman and Dragotta seems to be a natural fit after reading their Fantastic Four run. The action sequences are brutally stunning and the slower moments are impeccably drawn.
Subtle changes to history allow for the strange setting that we are thrown into initially . We have a rewriting of history where the Civil War lasted far longer than it had originally with several Indian tribes fighting as a separate army. This divided the United States much differently than when it was only the North and South fighting each other. The narrative at this point is slightly jumbled, seeing as we the readers have almost no idea of the events that preceded "The Apocalypse" that is taking place. Characters are thrown at us with no true introduction with the exception of the Three Horsemen of the Apocalypse (Famine, War, and Conquest), who have been reborn in the bodies of young children. That fact really makes no difference as they indiscriminately slaughter hundreds/thousands of people despite their appearance.
The most intriguing aspect of this chapter is the fact that the Fourth Horseman of the Apocalypse, Death, seems to be our protagonist/anti-hero. He is much older than the newly reborn horsemen and they subsequently elected to kill him upon finding out that he was alive. It is hinted upon that he was hunted and left for dead by a group that included The President of the United States. Death is not a forgiving figure and seems to have no issues with dispatching with anyone who willingly gets in his way. He is on a furious quest for revenge against the people that went after him and he is also searching for a yet-to-be-named item that was stolen from him.
East of West is setting itself up as on of the most intriguing series coming out of Image Comics. I have complete faith in Jonathan Hickman's writing ability, and the fact that answers will be coming along with a whole slew of additional questions. If you love alternate history comics with a sci-fi edge then this is a series that you need to be picking up monthly.