Friday, September 26, 2008

Collection Spotlight: Halo Graphic Novel

It’s been about a year since Halo 3 stormed in and broke all kinds of crazy records, got insanely good reviews, and basically became beloved by most and criticized by some. I figured what better way to celebrate the popular game than with a CS that spotlights the great graphic novel developed after it.

Lots of hard work was put into this, and it is one the testaments to just how strong something can be when one puts their soul into their work. Similar to the part 2 opener for Collection Spotlight with the AvP Omnibuses, we’re going to cover the 4 separate stories contained within the Halo Graphic Novel.

The last voyage of the Infinite Succor

Written: Lee Hamock

Art: Simon Bisley

Story comments: Unlike the other stories in this book, Infinite Succor takes up most of the book’s weight compared to the other series. Here, we chronicle a Covenant ship being taken over by the Flood, as well as somewhat of the origin of one of a big Halo characters later on. You know the one with half a jaw.

In all honesty, I found myself scratching my head half the time during this one. The art is left to tell most of the story, and I don’t feel Hamock conveyed what should happen well enough. What dialog we do get here doesn’t seem to fill in how little there really is to the story.

While it is nice to see the inner workings of the Covenant, how much their comrades mean to them, and that these are real beings, not random enemies that run at our hero and try to kill him.

Speaking of Master Chief, he’s absent from his own book. Though he gets a cameo in the opening pages of this story, that’s all you’ll see of him in the stories. It leaves me to wonder why he is on the cover if he isn’t the main character here.

Though people applaud Bungie for taking as big a risk as not to use Chief. I personally feel it’s a little frustrating to pay 25 dollars, hoping to see Chief kick some ass, and he hardly shows up. I can understand how he may take away from some of these stories, but I would have liked it much more if he at least had a larger role than cameo.

Anyway, the story in Infinite Succor is good, but I feel Hamock relies far too much on the art to convey the script and some really good moments get lost in that.

Art comments: I really like Simon Bisley’s work; he’s got a really defined style that stands out nicely. He captures the figures of the Halo Universe nicely and excels at creative ways to draw the Flood infected beasts.

Though still my complaint stands that the art is like a crutch to tell the story. While that isn’t always bad, I would have appreciated a more subtle blend of script and art coming together than what we get here.

Final Comments: Overall I really enjoyed this story, but was still a little bored with it. It definitely drags on after a bit, and seeing as this is the main meat of the book, that isn’t very good.

Armor testing

Written: Jay Faerber

Art: Ed Lee and Andrew Robinson

Story comments: Much more simpler and a straight forward story. Armor testing chronicles the test of the very same armor that Master Chief would come to use. But Chief isn’t the one in the mask testing the suit.

There really isn’t much to say about this one, it’s all straight forward action with a nice moment at the end of it. I liked seeing just how rigorous the testing is and that they don’t just make an armor then ship it out. But really, this doesn’t evolve the Halo mythos any further and feels the most throwaway of all the stories here.

Also, some of the actions feels pretty funny, Faerber definitely recreates some Halo type moments and that’s something I wasn’t expecting. So Kudos to him for that.

Art Comments: the art is simple, nice, and smooth. Just like the story. We get some nice moments that are conveyed well by the artists and I like the stylized look it carries. But really, it’s just simple good art, not much more.

Final Comments: While it feels more throwaway than anything, it’s a nice story with good art and makes for a quick and enjoyable read.

Breaking Quarantine

Tsutumo Nikei

Story/Art Comments: The story itself is told through the art alone. Intentionally this time, not by a folly like in Infinite Succor. The story tells of how our good sergeant escaped the Flood, something one would feel is fairly unnecessary since we know he got out alive anyway, but it was nice to see how it all went down.

Where it really shines is in the art though, it not only tells the story well, despite there being no words, but Nikei really comes up with some sick and twisted images of the Flood and it really shines well for it. He really creates the atmosphere as well, as a story about these space zombies should feel.

Final comments: While short, it was great and the art was absolutely stunning.

Second Sunrise over New Mombassa

Written: Brett Lewis

Art: Moebius

Story comments: A story that involves an “On the street” take on a major storyline is not uncommon. It seems most comics have done it, movies seem to strive for it, and cartoons and other animations enjoy it as well. So the idea of such a take on the world of Halo was to be expected.

We follow a man who is basically a big PR guy. It’s his job to make the news more digestible and easier. Changing words like Retreat to “Strategic pull back” and other things like that. It’s definitely an interesting perspective as usually these guys are made up as the bad guys who hate their jobs and just hate themselves. I appreciated that while he struggles with what he does, he isn’t a self hating fool.

The entire story is seen through his eyes, we hear his thoughts as he narrates and interacts with other people. It makes for some strong character moments and by the end of the story, he is built up very nicely.

When the Covenant attack, it’s made to be a very chaotic moment, but I liked how the overall chaos was more downplayed than anything, and we saw more of how he struggled to escape the city. It was nice to see the writer stick with his character most of the time, only showing us signs of the chaos once or twice.

The story has somewhat of a heart warming ending, when the man gives up his seat on the boat for a little girl whose mother must either be onboard, or is an orphan. Though he then returns to his desk and looks back on his thoughts for his final moments of life. It’s a bitter sweet ending.

Art comments: I am not at all familiar with the artist or his previous works, but I can tell you this…the art here is amazing. It matches the tone of the story incredibly well, character designs are very nicely done and each character has a strong level of uniqueness to how they appear to us.

As far as complaints are concerned, I don’t like how he does get a little strange with panel work. It’s only a few times, but it’s definitely rather confusing. Still, he does a fairly strong job even on the smallest of panels, which I can’t say for all artists.

Final comments: I really liked this story; it felt the most gripping, interesting, thought provoking and enjoyable of all. I would suggest you buy this for this story alone as it is easily the best story of the 4 and outshines all others, story and art wise.

Overall Final Comments: While I know I nitpicked a bit at it, I really enjoyed the graphic novel. I mainly nitpicked because in the end, this graphic novel gets nothing but loves nowadays and you deserve to know that there are flaws within it. I highly suggest it if you’re a big or even casual, fan of Halo. Even if you’re not a Halo fan you may enjoy this sci fi epic Graphic Novel as it contains some enjoyable story work and solid great art.

Must Buy

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