Video game stories are not easily translated into comics. That’s not to say a cross-medium story is destined for mediocrity. Seeing your favorite characters in another type of entertainment could actually be pretty fun. When it comes to Halo, one of the biggest video game franchises in history — does this hold true? Is it good?
Halo Initiation #1 (Dark Horse Comics)
This happens to be Dark Horse’s first ever Halo comic. The marketing standpoint makes sense: If Dark Horse manages to deliver an intriguing Halo comic to the fans of the video game series it isn’t unlikely that the fans will read other Dark Horse comics. If a loyal Dark Horse fan reads this and finds it half-way decent they are likely to have interest in the games. I am not the biggest fan of the video games so my attachment to this comic in terms of its faithfulness to the source material isn’t quite as high as it might be for others. That being said, it doesn’t matter much: the quality was so terrible even a die-hard Halo fan would shake their head in disgust.
First: the writing. For the first six pages of the book we are given an incredibly forced Halo history lesson. It is supposed to teach us what’s going on thus far in the story but it hides in dialogue form. The dialogue is atrocious and doesn’t really tell us anything about the characters in the scene. The one guy who is the most talkative isn’t at all intriguing. I place the blame mostly with the author because he just could not find his groove with the character. The guy doesn’t have a set personality or a tone.
The story shifts to a scene three-months prior to the beginning. We’re introduced to Sarah Palmer who tells us in a bunch of words that she loves her job as an ODST or Orbital Drop Shock Trooper; in other words — dressing up in a metal suit and shooting the crap out of aliens. (This comic obviously takes place before the events in Halo 4, where Sarah Palmer is already an established Spartan-IV super-soldier.)
My problem with this little bit of monologue is that it’s way too wordy. I recently met Terry Moore, an acclaimed independent writer at Boston Comic Con. During our brief discussion he said one thing that stuck with me more than anything else. “Anything I can say in a paragraph, Neil Gaiman can say in a sentence.” The writer of this comic writes almost an entire paragraph that means almost nothing to the overall narrative.
The one action scene in this issue takes up most of the comic and in the end isn’t all that exciting. The scene is in the spirit of the video game and features some vehicles and monsters from the original, but it just drags on for way too long. A couple of meaningless explosions and firefights result only in our protagonist getting shot and the person she was supposed to protect surviving.
The art by Marco Castiello is decent and some of the panels stand out well. Even better are the beautiful backgrounds that evoke a watercolor feel. Some of the characters look pretty stiff at times, but that’s forgivable.
- Pretty good art.
- Unsatisfactory dialogue.
- Most of the issue is a bland action scene.
Is It Good?
Unfortunately, no. Dominated by a bland action sequence this issue reads really quickly and doesn’t in any way compel you to read the second. (Which I will give a chance.)