GP Book Review: Halo Graphic Novel

September 26, 2006 -



Halo Graphic Novel

-reviewed for GamePolitics by Matt Paprocki

Transcending the world of video games, Halo is a cultural phenomenon.

While the days of seeing video game characters plastered on boxes of kiddie cereal are becoming less common, their more grown-up progress into other mediums is becoming commonplace, like movies and books. Thankfully, the Halo Graphic Novel exists in a realm free from director Uwe Boll’s influence.Entrusted to the hands of comic masters Marvel, this beloved Xbox franchise is in the best of hands.

While a slender volulme, the Halo Graphic Novel is jammed with four separate stories. Multiple authors and artists contribute their work to craft this gorgeous book, including the likes Simon Bisley, Brett Lewis, and Moebius. According to his bio, Lewis doesn’t even own a TV, but was so gripped by the paperbook novelizations of the Halo universe that he ended up contributing some of the graphic novel’s most vivid writing.



Unlike the original Halo game, which rocked the gaming universe when the Xbox launched in 2001, the Halo Graphic Novel does not get off to an especially good start. Its first chapter is both the loudest and the least embraceable in the book. Instead of focusing on Master Chief, the game’s lead protagonist, the opening elects to view events from the side of the Covenant as the alien race begins a desperate struggle against yet another enemy. While appropriately dark and hard edged, the art style is muddled. Giant frames feature countless tentacles, guns, bullets, claws, and blood. It's almost impossible to follow at points.

Easily the winner in the art direction category is an episode called Breaking Quarantine,  which follows the exploits of Sergeant Johnson in a fight against the breeding Flood. Tsutomu Nihei provides a gripping chapter based on a story concept from game developer Bungie. There’s no dialogue to be found anywhere and thus no chance for it to obscure the stunning watercolors used to create the images.

Still, it is Brett Lewis’ writing style that creates an entirely different side of Halo. Second Sunrise Over Mombasa is, well, marvelous. With a simple, spare design, the story features only a few frames of action, concentrating exclusively on people not found in the game, the residents of the planets under assault. It’s a bleak piece of story telling, hopeless, and yet gripping and evocative of our own time. For instance, images of civilians staring at the sky with the line “Everyone will remember where they were” will surely be familiar to American readers whose thoughts drift back to the horror of September 11th.

As a bonus, the hardbound book finishes off with extra pieces of artwork provided by some of Bungie’s design team and other comic book artists. It’s a pleasing and diverse array of styles designed to keep the visuals interesting as the reader turns the final pages. This additional touch helps makes that - ouch - $25 list price a bit less painful.

Absolutely gorgeous inside and out (be sure to look under the dust jacket), Halo has been ported beautifully to the graphic novel format. A tribute to both the game design team and folks who created this book, consider the Halo Graphic Novel a must-have for devotees of one gaming’s greatest franchises.


Comments

"While the days of seeing video game characters plastered on boxes of kiddie cereal are becoming less common"

Awwww, I want my Halo cereal :(.

I actually never liked Halo. I would much rather see a Half Life 2 graphic novel...or better yet...Starcraft. That would be cool!

I wanna read the WarCraft graphic novel. It's actually a 3 part series called the Sunwell Trilogy I think. I read the War of the Ancients Trilogy awhile back. Very good books, I recommend them to any WarCraft fans. I know this has nothing to do with the Halo graphic novel but I stand by my comment.

I do have to disagree with this a bit. The first story was actually the best in my opinion. Also, while I liked the Johnson story, I hated its lack of dialouge and short length.

@ potato_jones
Don't bother with the Sunwell Trilogy. I have the first volume. It's got some very nice artwork, but the story itself is bland beyond words.

TSUTOMU NIHEI FTW!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

He's an Awesome Manga artist who has worked on sci-fi mangas Like Blame!,NOiSE,Biomega,Net sphere enigneer,and other cool stuff. the art in Blame! is awesome,and it has a very complex storyline. i reccomend picking it up at barnes and noble.

NIHEI FTW!!!!!!!!!!

Its funny, im a huge comic book "nerd" and a gamer as well, yet I havent read or bought the Halo GN yet.

I was planning on buying it, but I may just wait for the Halo ongoing series due next year

It's actually pretty cool. I picked up one at GameStop the other day...

I really liked the book, the review is pretty on the nose, but the best story, IMO, was (and I forget what it's called, the book is at home) the one where they first run the Spartan armour through it's paces.

I'm, overall, really impressed with the book. I'm not sure I buy a lot of the hyperbole in the foreword, but I enjoyed it all the same.

I nabbed it at San Diego ComicCon. IMO it's definitely worth reading if you're a Halo fan, and there are some really incredibly talented people, including comic book veterans like Moebius, who contributed to it. Being a collection of short side-stories, it's probably not worth it if you're not a fan of the games.

There was some talk of a regular Halo comic book, though I don't know if/when it's supposed to be coming out.

"I do have to disagree with this a bit. The first story was actually the best in my opinion. Also, while I liked the Johnson story, I hated its lack of dialouge and short length."

the no dialogue made the johnsson story so damn great!!! the fact that the art was so graphic and amazing created the story by itself. however, the short length was a downer, thats for sure.

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Matthew Wilson@AE they better not try to force reviewers to jion, if they do they will be in violation of fair use laws.01/28/2015 - 11:59pm
Andrew EisenNintendo has launched its YouTube Creators program. https://r.ncp.nintendo.net/01/28/2015 - 10:58pm
ZippyDSMleeand a book on ninjustu....really..... it made more sense to be a pet a rat of a great master ><01/28/2015 - 9:13pm
ZippyDSMleeI seen the new one they tried to take to many liberties with the foot clan of which the frist movie evuantly overcame. /drunken no spell sheck post01/28/2015 - 9:12pm
WymorenceTMNT talk? In my Game Politics? *goes off to don his classic TMNT cartoon shirt*01/28/2015 - 8:43pm
Goth_Skunk... This is relevant to my interests...01/28/2015 - 8:19pm
Matthew Wilsonhttp://www.pcgamer.com//cd-projekt-explains-why-the-witcher-3-has-16-hours-of-sex-scene-mo-cap-data/ I do not mind that they have it, but 16 hours of it?! what is this Game of Thrones.01/28/2015 - 8:04pm
Matthew Wilsonhttp://www.polygon.com/2015/1/27/7921837/grim-fandango-remastered-interview-double-fine-disney-lucasfilm-sony a interesting read, or listen.01/28/2015 - 5:28pm
Wonderkarpyep. but they werent bebop and rocksteady yet. so technically i'm right :P01/28/2015 - 5:00pm
E. Zachary KnightBebop and Rocksteady have already been introduced in the human forms. They were the duo after Shredder's helmet.01/28/2015 - 4:55pm
Wonderkarpmy only complaint is no bluray boxed season sets yet. WTF Nickelodian!01/28/2015 - 4:42pm
Wonderkarpthe voice acting and story telling quality are awesome. Its like they took everything that was great about the original show, and Batman Animated Series'd it but kept it funny too01/28/2015 - 4:41pm
WonderkarpIts Awesome. Bebop and Rocksteady are going to debut this weekend. The new take is Bebop is a thief while Rocksteady is an arms dealer. took 3 seasons to get them on the show.01/28/2015 - 4:41pm
Goth_SkunkAhh! I see. I'm afraid I'm too invested in Game of Thrones, The Newsroom, The Walking Dead, and Hemlock Grove to notice the new TMNT on TV. :(01/28/2015 - 4:40pm
E. Zachary KnightMy kids love watching the 90's TMNT movies. They love the new TMNT cartoon on Nick. Yet, none of them really enjoyed the the new one.01/28/2015 - 4:39pm
Wonderkarpexecution and if there is a real wanting for something new on the big screen. There is somewhat of a wanting for new Ghostbusters on the big screen, but most people seem to agree that the new film shares little with ghostbusters beyond its original premis01/28/2015 - 4:38pm
Wonderkarpadding homages to classic via good storytelling. The new TMNT movie was just a crappy Bayformers affair that did nothing to develop character, with a mishmash of a story. Nerd Culture can accept new takes on older franchises. It just depends on the01/28/2015 - 4:37pm
Wonderkarpactually, Goth_Skunk, TMNT is a thriving TV show on Nickelodian which has enough old and new storytelling to create a thriving new product. its in its 3rd season and it just gets better as a show. The CGI Show is universally praised for being new yet01/28/2015 - 4:36pm
Goth_SkunkI propose that the new TMNT movie was not about making nostalgic adult nerds smile, but introducing the franchise to a new generation of younger fans. And some of those fans may even be kids of the nerds that grew up with the original TMNT.01/28/2015 - 3:55pm
Goth_Skunk...disservice to the franchise. But when I look at it, I see a franchise fanbase that, the last time anything major happened in the franchise, all its fans were kids. Those kids have now all grown up and are adults.01/28/2015 - 3:54pm
 

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