Publisher: Image Comics
Writer: Brandon Thomas
Artist: Juan Gedeon, Frank Martin
Release Date: July 13th, 2016
The idea, or message, behind Horizon is as portentous as it is brilliant. It’s a concept born from the frustrations of how we, as custodians of our planet, are systemically destroying this world we inhabit. We enjoy stories where Earth is invaded from the stars by Aliens seeking our resources, but here Brandon Thomas flips this notion. In Horizon, we are the invaders, and after depleting what Earth has to offer we go in search of a new planet. That planet is called Valius, and they are not going to allow this to happen without a fight.
It’s actually a little disconcerting just how easily I buy into this synopsis.
The story follows Commander Zhia Malen of Valius as she infiltrates Earth. Actually it was more of a crash landing, and the fact that she crashed in Canada – the most polite country ever – that nugget of humour was not lost on me. The fact that the narrative doesn’t deliver the story easily, which is to say that there is some effort of thought needed by the reader to absorb the issue, is a curious mechanic. Don’t get me wrong, all the plot points are there, it just takes a little effort to join them all together. By doing this (and doing it very well), Thomas gives the issue additional re-read value. This is definitely not a one-and-done issue like some of the more mainstream comics can perhaps be today. Extracting this investment from the reader may be a slight risk, but I think the outcome benefits the gamble: making you work for something makes you appreciate it more.
I’ll give you one example, and this may or may not be a spoiler depending on whether I am right or wrong. When Commander Zhia is being prepped for the mission back on Valius, one of the sacrifices mentioned was that it was going to cost her 30 years of her life. At the time of this dialogue she was having an implant surgically placed into her brain. Skimming this, the reader might assume it’s the cost of the operation, but having now re-read the issue several times I believe it’s because she is sent back in time 30 years before the invasion from Earth. There are a few things like this in issue one that I’ve come to realise, and the more I think about these things the more I have come to appreciate the nuance of this story.
In the art, Juan Gedeon brings a wonderfully eye-catching twist on his drawing style in Horizon. Those familiar with some of his work will welcome the slightly abstract and thick lines he employs, in Horizon he has added an angular and minimalist twist into his drawing style. It evokes a hint of futurism (that ties into my time travel theory nicely thank you very much) and if I’m honest, I think the art is damn sexy. Frank Martin is the colourist and, rather than work within the parameter set out in Gedeon’s inked lines, the style of colourization is almost a counterpoint. Juan draws thick and minimal lines, Martins colours are fervent, scratchy, and not always inside the lines. Looking at the page the layers of rendering are clear from base outline to highlights, but rather than look disjointed it looks [i]incredible[/i]. Two differing styles that when brought together become something greater than the sum of its parts. It’s a poetic way to describe it, and an apt one.
Horizon is a story resplendent in possibilities. The unique plot twist the story is based around reeks of potential and, as the reader, you are already trying to second guess story direction. As a piece of art it’s obvious that – in both story and illustration – there is a high production value and a hint that there just might be the potential to go stellar. It is not a story you should rush-read, as there are layers to this that hint towards complexity. But if you are ready to make a little investment then this could very well become your new favourite comic.
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The writer of this piece was: Andrew McGlinn
Andrew Tweets from @Jockdoom