Does ‘Halo’ work as a comic?

I’m a die-hard Halo fan boy.  It was the reason I bought the original Xbox, I waited in line for every new game release, I’ve spent countless hours on the forums and I’m currently drooling in anticipation of Halo 4.


Cortana is my dream date. There I said it, let’s not make it anymore awkward than it already is.
I need to put my fanaticism aside, being a journalist comes first. Besides, when a franchise starts to branch out into different kinds of media, critical fans can be an instrumental in keeping cannon and fiction intact (STAR WARS fans where you at?)

So far, most of the extended Halo franchise has been pretty good. The novels are excellent, McFarlane Toys do superb figures and I’m sure the new Master Chief themed breakfast cereal, Hal-Os will be delicious (ok, just kidding about that last one).

 

When I first heard that the Halo Graphic Novel was going to be released with Marvel at the helm, I was overjoyed. Besides the fantastical possibility of a Master Chief / Spiderman team up that comes with the Marvel license, I just knew it couldn’t be bad. Bungie kept a watchful eye over the whole project, making sure to keep it true the Halo cannon, which seemed a perfect fit for a comic from the beginning.

Highly visual sci-fi fantasy with a rich universe is just good graphic novel fodder.  With multiple stories (and thus multiple unique art styles from the various artists) filling in already familiar territory from Halo 1 and 2, the book as a whole was ultimately unobtrusive and enjoyable. It was almost like writers and artists were getting to do a small salute to Halo.

The follow up, Halo: Uprising was a little bolder, but just as acceptable.  Uprising switched between two stories, a primarily action oriented piece filling in the Chief’s story between Halo 2 and 3, and a story of two citizens fleeing Cleveland during a Covenant invasion.

 

What was best about the two Halo books was that they added to an established story, as oppose to trying too much to stand alone, or just cash in on a title.

That was my biggest problem with “Bloodlines” and “Hell Jumpers”.

On both counts, the books were released close to the release of a new Halo game title, and sold them selves based on similar content, but different stories.  “Hell Jumpers” follows a stand-alone story with two of the characters from Halo: ODST, where as “Bloodlines” stars a new team of Spartan super-soldiers, mimicking the dynamic of Halo: Reach.

Neither of the books is particularly bad, but the stories are thin, adding nothing to the over-all Halo story, and while the art is good, some of the frames and posses are lifted directly from in-game stills.

My biggest problem was that they didn’t add anything to Halo, I felt like I was buying them simply because they had the license. Yes I still enjoyed them as a fan, you can feed me just about anything ‘Halo’ and I’ll at the very least like it, but deep down I knew they didn’t need to exist.

Still, being a fan, I had to put the new Halo Graphic “Fall of Reach: Boot Camp” on my Christmas wish list. I was a little more optimistic about ‘Fall of Reach’. The title is to be an ongoing series, based on perhaps the most beloved Halo novel by Eric Nylund.

Sounded good to me, the ‘Fall of Reach’ novel has been out for some time now, so I didn’t see anything wrong with essentially just visualizing the story. The story it’s self feeds directly into the primary Halo story line and in some ways it’s nice to see things that you previously could only see in your brain.

In some ways it’s not so nice. Visualizing things in your head when reading a book is always far better than whatever anyone could show you. Mind you, the books are based off a video game, so really, what am I complaining about?

The art is good, playing right into the overall theme of the Halo universe.  Consistency is nice, but you can’t help but shake the feeling that the artists looked at the color pallets, design and overall theme in Halo: Reach and just decided to call it day by copying that.

Granted, fan boys hate it when you change anything established, but still, some of the artist’s own interpretation would have been nice. I can’t harsh on the writing. Since it’s all been establish by Nylund’s novel, dialog and all, it’s hard to complain.

It’s almost like I want to be mad at the ‘Fall of Reach’ comic series, but the only solid argument against it I have is that it’s just a rehash of a novel.  I guess I just wanted to be a cool fan boy and have something from my favorite franchise to complain about. STAR WARS fans don’t know how lucky they are to have the prequels.

Who am I kidding? I’m going to buy the next Halo comic when it comes out. I need something to tide me over until Halo 4.

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