Writer: Brandon Thomas / Artist: Juan Gedeon / Image Comics
Welp, we’re pieces of shit. I’m referring to humans, of course, as the villains of Brandon Thomas’ new series Horizon that tells a story of humans as the alien invaders to another planet – a story of colonization already disturbingly familiar in our own history – and how the survivors fight back to rescue their loved ones and save their planet. The first issue introduced us to Zhia, a soldier from the intelligent, advanced society humans had invaded. After Zhia crashed on Earth she began to find her bearings and repair her communication systems to look for others like her, and she managed to do just that when she came found her friend, another soldier, Mariol. Now a team of two, issue #2 begins by introducing another character, Sherrie, who is also on Earth, blending in as a human and searching to reunite with the other survivors. Come the start of Horizon #2, Zhia officially has a crew.
And they’re not done. What do you do in a small group of survivors when you know there’s more like you out there? You search for your numbers. And what do you do when one’s a captive? You go on a rescue mission. The group of three is looking to become four, and during their mission we begin to learn more about their kind and abilities little by little. This has been one of the strengths of Horizon: world-building with a gentle hand at a pace that is gradual without being opaque. We haven’t learned about Zhia and her people through them outwardly telling us much of anything; instead we’re thrown directly into their experience, watch their abilities in action, and try to piece together what we can with what information we have. It’s an interesting puzzle so far to determine the reaches of their technology without explanation, and their technology will obviously be an important subplot to lay the playing field for this war. This series has done well weaving a significant amount of world-building inside such a young story plot, and without telling or spoon feeding the audience. There’s a whole lot of showing, and while much of it is still unclear, we seem to be learning in due time.
Horizon’s artwork and action is setting a standard of being consistently badass; the fighting itself is great, but the shape-shifting technology is the creative twist that allows us to see each character fighting in different skins. That, coupled with ambiguous psychic ability makes for some fun, intense scenes. As the series builds its cast we can look forward to a few more additions before we dive deeper into our team of rogues, and that includes on the villain’s side of the fence where we hadn’t had much focus outside of generic evil humanity. Issue #2 puts a face to the archetype, and now we know for whom Zhia will be gunning. And we’re just getting started there, so that’s exciting.
Horizon has a clever concept, creative execution, and intriguing exposition. It’s a page-turner, but perhaps what I’m here for the most is the solider camaraderie that feels like watching an old episode of The Unit. I’m enjoying watching the team build, assembling its squad one by one, before we even get into the meat of the conflict between Earth and intelligent beings from a whole different planet.
There are so many questions unanswered – why did Earth invade? who led the invasion and how many have survived? how did humans ruin Zhia’s planet? – but for now that’s perfectly fine. It might take a while to get there and that’s just fine with me so long as Zhia’s building her squad as we learn the strengths and weaknesses of each of them. If there’s a war to come I want to know the players on each side before assigning my loyalties and placing my bets. Take your time, Brandon Thomas, take your time.
Reading Horizon? Catch up on previous reviews here.