Manga Reviews Reviews

Manhwa Review: The Horizon Vol. 1 (2023) by JH

A minimalistic masterpiece that pulls at the heartstrings

“A world where everything has been lost. A boy and a girl, alone together. A spark of hope, kindled between them. All they can do is move forward. But against broken adults and devastating despair, how long will they be able to keep going…?” (Ize Press)

A meditation on suffering, 's “” moves at a considered pace, following the lives of two young kids who have survived a horrific, world-ending disease. The series thrives under its minimalistic approach; pages are left dialogue-free to capture the anxiety and fear of the children as they navigate an uncertain landscape. “The Horizon” is equal parts bleak and tragic, and under the expert guidance of its creator, the manhwa stands as one of the most masterfully told stories to grace the medium.

Notably, the story presents a shocking scenario while giving it realistic sincerity by utilizing the innocence of youth navigating challenging scenarios like the loss of family. This balance can't be understated enough, as the heavy burdens the two carry are given the needed touch of humanity through youthful flights of fancy. Consequently, JH avoids an unfavorable extremity or nihilism that is an easy crutch for a series dealing with world-ending scenarios. Essentially, the sense of innocence that permeates “The Horizon” interjects hope in the reader and a strong desire to see the kids reach safety– It is equal parts horror, tragedy, and mystery, all entwined in a masterfully handled way.

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JH's success as a creator is equally attributed to his art as it is his ability to tell a story that resonates with the reader. Each of his projects has a slightly different visual direction, and where “The Boxer” was highly polished and stylized to capture the excitement of the sport, “The Horizon” is dirty and rough to capture the desperation and horror of the world.

Notably, the balance between empty spaces to convey loneliness often transforms into frantic scribbles to embody moments of action/horror. The background work also plays with these extremities, which are sometimes peaceful, offering a beautiful solitude, but can also change into a nightmarish landscape. Visually, the book is a masterpiece, especially looking at the finer details and the creative way JH plays with tonal shifts through contrasting visual styles.

Compared to the artist's already well-received “The Boxer,” “The Horizon” is a slow-crawl mediation on loss in a post-apocalyptic landscape that echoes the best dystopian storytellers in the medium. Moreover, it approaches the loss of childhood innocence gut-wrenchingly, making it an unforgettable read.

At this point, it is difficult to deny that JH is the definitive creator coming out of South Korea, with the potential to bridge the gap between East and Western comic fandom. It may not land in the popular genres in the manga/manhwa space, but it is a case of exemplary storytelling that could appeal to a more diverse, global audience. Grab volume one while you can, and be ready to have the complete three-volume series added to your collection.

About the author

Adam Symchuk

Adam Symchuk is a Canadian born freelance writer and editor who has been writing for Asian Movie Pulse since 2018. He is currently focused on covering manga, manhwa and light novels having reviewed hundreds of titles in the past two years.

His love of film came from horror and exploitation films from Japan that he devoured in his teens. His love of comics came from falling in love with the works of Shuzo Oshimi, Junji Ito, Hideshi Hino, and Inio Asano but has expanded to a general love of the medium and all its genres.

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