Written by: Brandon Thomas
Art by: Juan Gedeon & Frank Martin
Publisher: Image Comics
I’ve been singing Horizon’s praises from the first issue – both in written and audio form, on The Comics Dash podcast. The book has never blown me away, but honestly, I found myself really enjoying the first two issues and feeling eager for more. I was actually pretty excited seeing it on the list of books I would be reading this week, which perhaps says more about how I feel about the book than anything in this review will. After reading this issue, I find myself in a fairly similar position – I’m still very much looking forward to where this book goes. I’ve given it its three issues (which is my general rule for books), and I think I’m sticking with it for the long haul.
I guess if you really want me to stick around with your book, making the third issue the strongest definitely seems like the way to go. While the first two issues spent a lot of time establishing the conflict and setting up the plot, Horizon #3 gives some much needed background on the characters. There’s been some subtle character work thus far, but nothing quite substantive enough to really get me invested. And while the character work that happens in the flashbacks here isn’t exactly groundbreaking, it puts the book on the path to having a cast I’m truly invested in.
Despite being alien, the characters that we do get to see in flashback sequences do feel like people. Their dialogue comes off as being natural, and it’s easy to like the protagonists. This has always been the case in Horizon, but getting a glimpse of their lives before their mission to Earth adds a degree of substance to the characters. Of course, this isn’t an inherent quality of flashback sequences, it just so happens that they worked well in this book. The jumping between them and the present day is seamless, and they share a similar structure, in terms of the build up and release of tension.
That being said, some of the dialogue in this issue does feel a bit awkward and clunky. While I really do like the opening, there’s a scene that involves a lot of explanations, and I couldn’t help but feel it could have been handled better. I say this mostly because the context in which it takes place would have been much more interesting without any dialogue. Move the exact dialogue from this scene to another part of the book, and it wouldn’t have bothered me as much. It just gets in the way of a Juan Gedeon action scene, and that’s never really a good thing.
Oh yeah, Juan Gedeon’s art is still absolutely top notch. I went from knowing absolutely nothing about him when Strayer came out earlier this year to considering him one of my favorite artists working right now. In part, this is because he has a very distinct style – elements of which seem to have been incorporated into other books (Green Arrow actually comes to mind here). Gedeon certainly seems to subscribe to the “less is more” camp when it comes to art. The character models aren’t super intricate or detailed, though there is enough to differentiate them from one another.
The focus of his style is twofold. The first is body language – there’s a strong sense of how characters should react to certain situations on a physical level in this issue. It eliminates the need for excess dialogue, and Brandon Thomas certainly seems more than happy to oblige. The second aspect of Gedeon’s art, and perhaps what I like most about it, is how he captures motion. His line work is incredible, and characters in motion have a visceral nature about them. He’s not afraid to distort backgrounds or characters to capture this sense of movement, and it comes together quite well.
Considering the demands of the plot, there’s a lot of need for motion. There’s rarely a dull moment in Horizon, as between this issue and the last there’s certainly been no shortage of action sequences. In fact, the action provides the backdrop for most of the plot and the character work, which is a solid way to keep the reader interested. Do I wish they’d slow it down a bit more? Sure, but the breakneck pacing hasn’t really hurt the book thus far. In fact, it’s made the first three issues feel like quite the ride, and that’s admirable. Setting a pace and maintaining it without running out of steam within the space of a single issue is an impressive feat.
Honestly, Horizon isn’t the next seminal comic book story. I don’t even think that’s what the creators are going for. What Horizon is is a fun sci-fi action book with a degree of depth so as not to be completely dumbed down. And that’s more than enough, because it’s worked for the book thus far. It’s really good at being what it is. This is my favorite issue thus far, and as with the preceding issues, I’m looking forward to checking out more of this book next month.