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Monday, August 14, 2006

The Halo Graphic Novel

I finally got to read The Halo Graphic Novel (two weeks after it released, but the $8.50 I saved at Amazon was worth it).

This is a good first foray into the comics medium for Bungie and Marvel. Unfortunately not great, but pretty solid.

The book is divided into 5 parts -- 4 self-contained (mostly) stories (each with different writers and artists) and an art gallery.

I say mostly self-contained, because the first story, "Last Voyage of the Infinite Succor", written by Lee Hammock and illustrated by Simon Bisley, is not. If you don't have the back story of the game, and read the introduction to the story, you'll be lost. And the narrative is pretty weak and disjoint, and doesn't do service to Bisley's great art -- not a good one with which to start the book.

The next 3 stories are stronger.

"Armor Testing" by Ed Lee and Jay Faerber is a solid (if a bit underwhelming) tale, with a subtle twist and decent humanization at the end.

Better is Tsutomo Nihei's "Breaking Quarantine", which details Halo foil (and cookie-cutter space marine bad-ass sergeant -- uh, Aliens?) Johnson's escape from the Flood. This dialog-less tale showcases Nihei's painted art, and his flexibility in illustrating someone else's story.

The best (and capstone) story is Moebius and Brett Lewis' "Second Sunrise Over New Mombasa" -- a tight, insightful (but not heavyhanded), and eventually sentimental war journalism story. And there's a subtle, definite nod to the hook of Halo 3.

The art gallery is great, with my favorite entries being from Lorraine McLees, Doug Alexander, Justin Sweet, Kent Williams, Craig Mullins, and Scott Fischer (who also gets my award for best composition; deconstructing the pict makes me realize, "Oh, that's why I'm affected that way!).

My least favorite pin-up is Bungie guy's Tom Doyle's, (What, is that a midget kid he's rescuing? C'Mon, proportion. Little Person kid. Sorry).

And then I have my general gripes about hard back cover galleries. Why do a two-page spread, when I can't hope to get a decent view of it, even if I break the spine of the book? You think I'm actually gonna cut these picts out and hang them up? How long to do you think this thing'll sit on my coffee table to show off to guests before it goes on a shelf, rarely to be viewed?

But, this is a good first foray into the comics, and with confirmation that the franchise will go monthly next year, the future looks good from this starting point.

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