Ever wanted to read all the issues of Horizon Zero Dawn: Liberation in a single graphic novel, without having to switch between comic book issues? Especially to prepare yourself for Horizon Forbidden West‘s story? Well, Titan Comics is here to help you out with that with this very graphic novel.

"Horizon Zero Dawn: Liberation" graphic novel cover art.
Funnily enough, there’s not a single Watcher in the comic.

Horizon Zero Dawn: Liberation is a compilation of all 4 issues of the comic book series (you can read spoilery reviews for #1, #2, #3, and #4 here) into a single graphic novel. Anne Toole is the writer for the comic book series (and by extension the graphic novel), with Elmer Damaso as the artist. Peach Momoko did the cover art for the graphic novel. Lastly, Titan Comics published this graphic novel, just as they did the same for the comic book series.

Horizon Zero Dawn: Liberation went on sale on March 1, 2022. You can purchase the graphic novel in either print or digital format directly from Titan Comics. Well, not quite directly. The website will send you to Amazon or Forbidden Planet (for UK buyers) if you want the print version, and Kindle if you want the digital version.

Warning: spoilers for Horizon Zero Dawn: Liberation below. If you want to read about the liberation of Meridian for yourself, stop here, and come back once the explosions are over and done with.

Horizon Zero Dawn: Liberation ~ Plot Summary

"Horizon Zero Dawn: Liberation" preview page 1, featuring Erend almost becoming breakfast for a Stalker.
Almost but not quite a clever girl moment for that Stalker.

Horizon Zero Dawn: Liberation stars Aloy and Erend as they go on a quest together. The mission? To hunt down an Oseram murderer named Korl, who murdered a merchant and is on the lam, and bring him to justice. As it turns out, Korl also has a bit of a history with Erend and his deceased sister Ersa. It’s not exactly a good history either. Scratch that, it’s a really bad history. Erend even gets to tell it to Aloy as they journey together.

Ersa: The True Heroine of This Story

"Horizon Zero Dawn: Liberation" preview page 2, featuring Ersa showing us how awesome she is...was.
Speak of the she-devil.

In a series of flashbacks, Erend tells the story of how Ersa briefly became a prisoner of the Carja. There, she met and befriended Sun Prince Avad, and convinced him to help her and the Oseram fight back against the evil Carja under Mad Sun King Jiran. Unfortunately, Dervahl didn’t like that idea, mostly because he wanted to commit genocide against the Carja for the murders of his family. Ersa didn’t like that at all. Thus, she kicked him into a pit (300 style), and left him to someone who wanted his own revenge against him. With Dervahl out of the way, the assault of Meridian went off without a hitch. Except that Korl freed Dervahl afterwards. That allowed Dervahl to kill Ersa in the game’s storyline. This is also why Erend wants Korl as badly as he does in Horizon Zero Dawn: Liberation.

Speaking of which, Aloy and Erend do track Korl down in a market, trying to sell his stolen goods. Korl tries to use a machine lure to get away, but the duo shuts him down hard. Karl elects to die by hand grenade though, so there’s now no one to arrest. However, now Erend has some closure for Ersa’s death. Thus ends Horizon Zero Dawn: Liberation as Aloy and Erend relax for a bit, before Aloy has to resume her journey.

Horizon Zero Dawn: Liberation ~ The Good

"Horizon Zero Dawn: Liberation" preview page 3, featuring Erend somehow being surprised by a Stormbird.
Robot thunderbirds are still cool.

Ersa is arguably the best thing about Horizon Zero Dawn: Liberation. It’s here where we finally get her backstory and even characterization of her. You know, before she died that horribly violent death in the game proper. Yeah, that still sucked for a character with so much potential. At least we’re getting some posthumous character development here. It’s even pretty good and extensive characterization to boot. It’s here where Ersa finally turns into a fully-fledged character that you care about, even knowing her fate in the game.

Speaking of characters though, Aloy and Erend’s adventures in the present day are almost as interesting. Maybe not as much as Ersa’s backstory, but that’s not to say that they don’t catch your interest. There’s also the fact that by virtue of the plot, the Aloy x Erend shipping fuel is strong with this one. If you’re a fan of that ship, this might be your story.

The artwork of Horizon Zero Dawn: Liberation is pretty good too. Elmer Damaso has an almost manga-like style of artwork for the characters that really appeals to me as a manga fan. Especially in the case of Ersa. I swear, she looks like she could be the rare female protagonist of a shonen manga. He also does a fantastic job depicting the machines of Horizon Zero Dawn. They’re not only instantly recognizable but look threatening to boot. Guerilla Games should hire Elmer Damaso for some more comic book adaptations at this rate.

Horizon Zero Dawn: Liberation ~ The Bad

"Horizon Zero Dawn: Liberation" preview page 4, showing Aloy shooting a Stormbird with frost arrows before it plays catch with Erend.
Frozen robot thunderbirds are less bad than non-frozen robot thunderbirds.

The only really bad thing about Horizon Zero Dawn: Liberation probably only applies to those who’ve played the game itself. Imagine this scenario: you become emotionally invested in Ersa as a character due to how strong and likable she is. You think: “Wow, I wonder how her story is going to continue?” And then you realize that her story is never going to continue because she’s dead in the game proper. You grumble at moments like those, but you know that there’s nothing you can do about it, so you just grumble and move on.

Source: Titan Comics