Halo is one of the most popular video games in the industry today. The first-person shooter follows Master Chief, a Spartan who battles against the alien invaders, the Covenant and the Flood. Although it is a booming franchise, the Halo universe is largely unexplored outside of this character. Dark Horse Comics attempts to remedy this problem with their new comic miniseries. A lead-in to the new Halo mobile game, Halo: Spartan Assault, Halo Initiation follows Commander Sarah Palmer as she undergoes a secret United Nations Space Command (UNSC) Spartan program. Without the Master Chief, the Covenant or the Flood supporting the story, Halo Initiation branches away from the video games to open a new world for their fans.
Great interior art and action sequences
A well developed protagonist
Linear plot and underdeveloped story
Flawed character and background designs
Previously in Halo Initiation: Commander Sarah Palmer, an Orbital Drop Shock Trooper (ODST), has been chosen for a secret Spartan program. After some biological enhancements and training, she and her Spartan team are ready for the field. Meanwhile, a group of colonists discover the construction of a giant warship called the Infinity and plan to hijack it from the UNSC. Led by Ilsa Zane, they capture the ship’s skeleton crew and attempt to make the Infinity operational. Sarah and her fellow Spartan must suit up to retake the ship.
DID YOU BUY THE MOBILE GAME?
Brian Reed concludes his Halo miniseries with Halo Initiation #3. The new group of Spartans are ready to retake the Infinity. They discover from their program trainer, Jun, that the leader of the hijackers, Ilsa Zane, was in a Spartan program. Ilsa’s group was an attempt to create Spartans without their signature armor. Halo Initiation highlights the UNSC conflict with their colonies that is a backdrop storyline in the video games. Sarah Palmer is a decent protagonist. Her impulsive nature and eagerness to win are depicted throughout this issue. It is consistent with her personality established in the series. In contrast, the villain, Ilsa Zane, has very little personality. She randomly appears to be a background character in the last issue, only to emerge as the leader in this comic. However, since her background is similar to Sarah, it makes her a good counterpart to the protagonist. Unfortunately there are not any twists or interesting plot points in Halo Initiation, both in this issue and in the series. It is very linear: the hero is introduced, the hero must prove herself, and the hero wins. Three issues is not enough to develop a complex story similar to the Halo games. Since this is an introduction to a mobile game, it seems the comic is more interested in getting fans to play the game than expanding the Halo story. The writer does round out his plot with Musa completing the report he started in the first issue.
SO MANY DIFFERENT SPARTANS
Marco Castillo completes the interior artwork for the Halo Initiation series with issue #3. His Spartan designs are well done. I like how he used multiple Spartan designs from the Halo 4 multiplayer mode rather than the standard Master Chief template. At times the art can be disproportional such as long necked humans or distorted Spartan armor. These flaws are minuscule, often unnoticed in the background. The interior art has plenty of action sequences and fights as the Spartans try to regain control of the Infinity. It is a difficult task to keep everything in order but Marco Castillo does it with stunning visuals.
BOTTOM LINE: A DECENT VIDEO GAME COMIC
The Halo Initiation miniseries is a nice introduction into the Halo universe outside of the Master Chief and the Covenant. The three issue series has some surprisingly well-design interiors worthy of the Halo franchise. However, since it is a three issue series, the comic does not have enough support to convey a complex story. It ends abruptly without contributing anything to the Halo’s expending storyline. It is a solid piece, but completely unnecessary.