Review: Halo: Initiation #1
Video game comic series have always had a problem making a splash in the medium. Now that the Halo franchise is at Dark Horse, it’s time to give it another try. Halo: Initiation still isn’t the best example of what video game comics have to offer.
The story, written by Brian Reed, gives a brief back story for where we are in the Halo universe. This is after Halo 3, but before Halo 4. I’m not as well versed in the Halo universe as other games, such as Legend of Zelda, so the quick back story helped me get my bearings for where we are. Reed opts to focus on Corporal Palmer, who is an ODST (Orbital Drop Shock Trooper). I was immediately excited, as Halo: ODST is my favorite game in the series. Reed introduces us to our hero well enough, but something is missing. She’s tough, but it puts the reader off. She’s snarky, but the humor doesn’t land. I can understand the UNSC loving her the way they do, but the reader just doesn’t care. My words after putting the comic down were, “Ok?” The entire story isn’t horrible, but it just doesn’t hook the reader the way it should. I trust this series more than most to improve for quality, as Brian Reed is a good writer. Check out his Ms. Marvel run (second longest for a female hero in comic history) for a great example.
Video game comics have a harder time than most lasting because of the nature of video games. Most of these heroes are silent, so we are able to put ourselves into the role of hero. Titles like Uncharted fare a little better, as Nathan Drake has an established personality that the writer can build on. Reed does the good thing in not making it about Master Chief. That would have been boring. But if this book is going to last, Reed is going to need to step it up when it comes to characterization for Palmer. I think the best thing would be to have a comic go off on its own. Much like most of the Star Wars comics do for Dark Horse. I’ll be keeping an eye on this title, but might wait until the trade comes out to completely catch up.
Marco Catiello’s artwork is good when the scene focuses on the monsters and uniforms. Mast Chief looks great in his one page appearance. The ODST fight with the Covenant is another high light. There are a few panels where the action looks very stiff. Also, when Palmer throws a grenade at the Warthog, why does she stand so close to it? I remember those things flying in the game when I threw a grenade at them. And usually I’d lose my shield just in time for someone to melee me in the back for a kill. The facial expressions of characters outside uniforms leave something to be desired. Michael Atiyeh’s colors fit the Halo universe well. The glow of the Needler is spot on, as well as the Covenant armor.
Halo: Initiation could be a lot worse, but it also isn’t the strong debut that Dark Horse needed for the license.
Halo: Initiation #1 gets 2.5/5.