I’ll give it to 343 Industries; they found a way to expand on the Halo universe. Sure you have to pretty much forget about Reach, but otherwise it works and is very interesting. As I said in our group review for the first issue, this is way better than anything Marvel attempted with the license. I think back to all of those terrible comics that I tried to enjoy and was disappointed by each and every single time. Thankfully Dark Horse knows how to handle a video game license and delivers the goods yet again with this issue. They also know how to keep a shipping schedule which is very important as well. The story opens up with a group of rebels plotting to take the Infinity which is the home to the Spartan project. They’re lead by a woman who seems to have a lot of knowledge about the operation and is playing to the fears of others. There’s a rich political message that I doubt any Halo fan has considered and it comes in the form of a question: What does a society built on war do during peace times. The thing is we love our futuristic sci-fi in which there’s a constant flood of evil to fight against, but eventually there’s a winner. The story here has a heavy hand of influence from Starship Troopers (the book not the movie) in which the military becomes so big that they begin to control society. It adds a huge layer to the world and story and shows the depth of possibilities left for the Halo franchise.
From there the story continues to follow Sara Palmer as she walks us through the process that makes her into a Spartan. Its three weeks of intense operations, but afterwards she’s damn near unstoppable. She and the other recruits hit the obstacle course, but barely complete the mission. Palmar basically abandons the team in order to finish which is not how their unit should be functioning. After that the Spartans meet Musa-096 a former Spartan II. Through his sharp dialogue we learn that all of the soldiers have been given the rank of Spartan and that whatever they were previously has been erased. They’ll also only be given Spartan armor when they earn it and that doesn’t look to be happening anytime soon.
Reed’s writing on this series has been on point. The dialogue is sharp and quick which should instantly remind you of playing the game. Thankfully he doesn’t attempt to capture the game experience with his yarn, but instead focuses on the lore and world of Halo. With the last game a new element was added to the world and this series is playing off of the element. It’s interesting and I say that as a sci-fi fan more than a Halo fan.
The art is the right fit for the story. It captures the sci-fi look, but more importantly it captures a world that’s run by the military. In a lot of ways it reminded me of the Gundam world in which you can sense the history and how the society has been shaped by war. There’s a great amount of details, but also a stylization to the artwork. Palmer’s character steals the show with her attitude and arrogant nature and that’s highlighted by the artwork with every scene she’s in.
I know a lot of people are quick to write this series off for anyone that’s not already a Halo fan, but I took the approach of this being well-developed sci-fi. It’s inviting enough for any fan of the genre, but of course caters to the Halo fan-base a lot more. It definitely has me excited for the next series and for the next game which is foolish considering it’s not going to be out anytime soon. Don’t let this video game tie-in scare you off because it’s worth the read.
Writer: Brian Reed Artist: Marco Castiello Publisher: Dark Horse Comics Price: $3.99 Release Date: 9/11/13