Until very recently, the Halo license was held by Marvel and while they did put out a couple of interesting side stories and the like, the license to do Halo comics has gone to Dark Horse and with Dark Horse’s expertise in licensed property comics, I expect some really great things out of them. This is the first, billed as a sequel to the Halo 4 game.
So sit back and enjoy my take on Dark Horse’s Halo Initiation.
This is a 3-issue mini-series (well, two issues and an “intro”) that focuses on Sarah Palmer and her development into one of the newest issue Spartans in the Halo lore. We start off with a little introduction to the UNSC military structure following the end of Halo 3, followed by the revelation that a new squad of Spartans have been created and are being assigned to the Infinity, setting them up for a primary role in the events of Halo 4. Okay, the first issue, billed as an introduction, isn’t that great. It’s short, the writing is a bit clunky, the art leaves something to be desired, but it is Dark Horse’s first dealings with the series so I’m a little hesitant to be too upset, although their $3.99 pricetag on the first issue comes off as very excessive for what you get.
The second and third issues are much better and you can see improvement along the way. We learn that the Infinity, still not completely ready for action, is being targeted for theft by the first Spartan-IV, Isla Zane, whose “Spartanizing” has driven her more than a little crazy. I will say that it’s a great sign, especially given the male-driven Halo video game series, to find that Dark Horse starts with a strong female hero and a strong female villain. Sarah and her small squad or Spartans fight against Zane and her much larger squad of thieves to see which side gets to control the UNSC’s latest and greatest battleship. The art, by Marco Castiello, has improved somewhat from the first issue, although I think it has a ways to go. The writing, by Brian Reed, also got better from the preview, but I can still pick out places where he needs to find the specific voice for various characters. Sarah is characterized nicely, some of the other Spartans, not so much. I’m willing to be forgiving because it’s Dark Horse’s first shot at this property and it takes everyone time to get on track.
They’ve already started putting out a new ongoing series called Halo: Escalation and while I’m not going to review that right this second, I will say that it’s continuing the improvements made here. If you’re a Halo fan, if you’ve read any of the novels, if you’ve watched any of the animated shorts, this is well worth your time, even if the first issue is a rip-off for what you get, to get in and get your Halo on. There’s no Master Chief (as of yet) but what you get is a whole different view of the vibrant Halo universe.