HORIZON ZERO DAWN: THE SUNHAWK Written by Anne Toole; Artist: Ann Maulina
Titan Comics, s/b, £14.99
Reviewed by Matthew Johns
If you’re not familiar with the world of Horizon Zero Dawn, it’s set far in the future in a post-apocalyptic world. The Earth is once again a lushly green planet, sparsely populated with humans living in tribes battling against deadly machines that roam the planet. It is a massively successful video game, in which the main character is Aloy, a hunter of these machines with a mysterious past.
Talanah is the protagonist of the piece, one of the side characters from the video game – a friend and ally of Aloy. A skilled hunter and fighter, she has fought her way up to become Sunhawk – the leader of the hunters in her tribe, having seen her father and brother die protecting her tribe, accused of treachery. She finds herself restless in her new, stable position as Sunhawk. She decides to leave on her own to take out some of the machines that are attacking villages outside of her own and encounters a mysterious stranger named Amadis living in the woods nearby. He has also suffered losses and been accused of treachery for standing up to a corrupt general, and now hides in the woods as there is a price on his head. They join together to battle a new type of machine that is hunting and killing people while avoiding the bounty hunters that hunt Amadis.
This graphic novel (although my wife will insist on calling them comics!) is beautifully illustrated – the covers are wonderfully detailed, bringing to mind (for me at least) the artwork of the legendary Alex Ross who cowrote and illustrated many DC titles including the fantastic Kingdom Come. Ann Maulina’s artwork inside is also excellent, bringing the world of Horizon Zero Dawn to life in full colour. She uses a good mix of colours throughout, with the main character Talanah well realised as she undertakes her quest. There are hints of anime in some of the cells, which flow in a fairly standard way across the page with some overlaid on top of a full-page illustration at times, making it very pleasing to the eye.
The storytelling is good – the book contains not just an introduction explaining the world that it’s set in, but also a mini appendix at the back showing the different types of machines that are encountered within it. As someone who has never played Horizon Zero Dawn, I found that didn’t diminish my enjoyment of this title – it’s easy to read even if you’ve never heard of it before. The story contains all the essential elements – betrayal, plenty of action, big reveals, a touch of romance and some good dialogue, too. All in all, it’s a good read and is very well put together – whether you’re a fan of the Horizon Zero Dawn game or not, I’d recommend this one.