“There are positive and negative aspects in life, and also a middle ground. It is from this middle ground that the girl and boy must progress towards whatever the future may bring. Both good and bad exist, but it is important to keep moving forward.”
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By approaching work that openly reveals the harsh realities of life, we can gain a lot of insight. Often, we tend to ignore these truths in order to maintain a positive outlook on life. But acknowledging death, starvation, cruelty, and being forgotten can make us feel incredibly small and insignificant. Thankfully, art serves as a means to explore these themes with a sense of detachment, knowing that they are either fictional or separate from our own struggles with mortality. We can observe, contemplate, and then move on. If we are fortunate, we may even learn something from these reflections and recognize the fleeting nature of time, the possibility of tragedy, and the importance of living each day to the fullest. JH’s “The Horizon” is a fictional work that delves into the potential cruelty of life in a devastating yet inspiring way.
The first volume of this series displayed the author’s skill in storytelling, and the final book (which has not yet been published but is available in WebToon format) is equally moving. However, the second volume contains several difficult scenes that elicit strong emotional responses. One notable scene is the backstory of a young girl who lost her family. This scene takes place on a small bus with a few survivors, each slowly succumbing to a disease. Before she meets her current companion, a young boy, the girl must say goodbye to her fellow travelers in a heart-wrenching manner. The lives of those on the bus, their reflections on their past, and the impending death they face are heart-wrenching topics to grasp.
In comparison, the beginning of the book focuses on a businessman in charge of a town who kills any mercenaries that enter, shedding light on another aspect of human flaws in extreme circumstances: the willingness to do whatever it takes to stay alive. Additionally, the initial chapters of the manhwa provide the young boy with a father figure to teach him survival skills, including how to use a gun, which is crucial in a post-apocalyptic setting. While this section may not be as captivating as the story of the last bus ride, it effectively expands on the events occurring in the world and depicts the young boy’s transformation into a defender, serving as excellent foreshadowing.
JH has a striking visual aesthetic that differs from one project to another. When comparing his work in “The Boxer” to “The Horizon,” the aesthetic results are vastly different. In “The Boxer,” JH utilizes fast-paced action and well-defined characters to create an exhilarating sports story. On the other hand, the visual style in “The Horizon” evokes a sense of coldness, with JH incorporating dark space to convey themes of isolation and uncertainty. Some panels within the images are barely discernible, adding to the impactful sense of anxiety and dread.
JH’s panel layout showcases a striking visual style, while also demonstrating a mastery of storytelling techniques. Through unconventional placement of panels and strategic use of silence, JH creates a fluid flow in the narrative, allowing for a deeper connection to the characters’ emotions. The pinnacle of JH’s skill in comic book storytelling is evident in their ability to seamlessly transition from subtle moments to impactful dialogue, effectively conveying the harsh realities of the story in just a few words.
“The Horizon” is a brilliant work of art, a rare gem that truly delves into the depth of human existence by showcasing the struggles of others. It has the power to resonate with all readers, regardless of their preference for manga, manhwa, manhua, American comics, or European comics. This type of work deserves to be embraced and revered.