Friday, August 16, 2013

Brand New Feature: Halo: Initiation #1 (Dark Horse Comics)

By Brian Reed & Mario Castiello

The Halo franchise is nothing short of astonishing. What started as a singular video game title has become its own brand, and soon-to-be television program, as well. Halo: Initiation is not the first comic Halo comic title, but it is meant to be the precursor for Halo: Spartan Assault. The book focuses on Sarah Palmer as well as the rebuilding of the Spartan unit. The status quo at the start of this story is that the year is 2553 and the previous Spartan army, along with Master Chief, are all missing. One man has decided to stop waiting and enact his own plan B.

The United Nations Space Command sit around a "U" shaped table and hear from a man named Musa. Musa talks about the original Spartans and compares them to the modern Spartan unit. His initial approach sounds like one meant to condemn the practices of UNSC, but it turns out to be quite the opposite. Musa wants to create a new Spartan Ops, and it looks like he has already started. The book then flashes back a few months and that is where the book really begins to suffer. 

Brian Reed opens strong. The weight and urgency of the situation is transparent and those unfamiliar with the games can be just as captivated by the picture the man paints. Reed is impressive in that sense as little history needs to be spelled out in order for readers to get a sense of the situation. Once the book jumps into the story of Sarah Palmer, however, the pacing and story telling fall flat. Twelve pages of this story cover one long battle and they almost all stick to a wide-screen, four panel page format. So little transpires from page to page, that the fight seems to really drag on.

Often times one of the four to five panels is simply an alien being posing or growling. The dialogue and fighting throughout these sequences feels very stiff and expressionless. The paired art from Mario Castiello offers very little to make up for the script problems. Twelve pages of action can feel long, but if the scenes are exciting to see they can still engage the reader. Unfortunately, here, nothing on display from this Sarah Palmer story will do much to increase or even maintain excitement for readers. 

Halo: Initiation may have a great story to tell, but most of that is lost here, in favor of an over-long battle. Fight books can be exciting, but Initiation #1 seems to have missed the mark. Fans of the series may find a bit more to enjoy purely from a familiarity standpoint. Other than offering those individuals more of the universe, Halo: Initiation #1 is a very thin story. While Reed deserves credit for making this book easy to pick up for any reader, the coming issues will need a lot more to warrant following the series.

Writing: 5/10
Art: 5/10
Overall: 5/10

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