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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Andrew EisenAs it happens, Chinatown Wars is the only GTA game I've played.04/19/2014 - 10:43am
Papa MidnightWith GTA5 (to date) failing to even provide indication of a PC release, I'm realising that this might be the first GTA game that I have not played (outside of Chinatown Wars) since the series inception.04/19/2014 - 8:14am
IanCSo im guessing a bunch of edutainment games, which a lot of people elsewhere are going gaga over, dot count as classics? Okay. If you don't mind me, i have a sudden urge to play Putt Putt....04/19/2014 - 6:15am
MaskedPixelantehttp://www.joystiq.com/2014/04/18/playstation-99-cent-sale-discounts-tokyo-jungle-super-stardust/ Weekend long PSN flash sale. So much stuff is 99 cents for the rest of the weekend.04/18/2014 - 5:59pm
Adam802http://www.polygon.com/2014/4/18/5627928/newtown-video-game-addiction-forum04/18/2014 - 4:14pm
Matthew Wilsonit is a video talking about why certain games/products/consoles do well, and others do not. he back it up with solid research.04/18/2014 - 3:56pm
Andrew EisenI'm not keen on blind links. What is it?04/18/2014 - 3:45pm
Matthew Wilsonthis is worth a whatch https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MyXcr6sDRtw&list=PL35FE5C4B157509C904/18/2014 - 3:43pm
MaskedPixelanteNumber 3: Night Dive was brought to the attention of the public by a massive game recovery, and yet most of their released catalogue consists of games that other people did the hard work of getting re-released.04/17/2014 - 8:46pm
MaskedPixelanteNumber 2: If Humongous Entertainment wanted their stuff on Steam, why didn't they talk to their parent company, which does have a number of games published on Steam?04/17/2014 - 8:45pm
MaskedPixelanteNumber 1: When Night Dive spent the better part of a year teasing the return of true classics, having their big content dump be edutainment is kind of a kick in the stomach.04/17/2014 - 8:44pm
Matthew Wilsonhttp://www.giantbomb.com/articles/jeff-gerstmann-heads-to-new-york-takes-questions/1100-4900/ He talks about the future games press and the games industry. It is worth your time even though it is a bit long, and stay for the QA. There are some good QA04/17/2014 - 5:28pm
IanCErm so they shouldn't sell edutainment at all? Why?04/17/2014 - 4:42pm
MaskedPixelanteNot that linkable, go onto Steam and there's stuff like Pajama Sam on the front-page, courtesy of Night Dive.04/17/2014 - 4:13pm
Andrew EisenOkay, again, please, please, PLEASE get in a habit of linking to whatever you're talking about.04/17/2014 - 4:05pm
MaskedPixelanteAnother round of Night Dive teasing and promising turns out to be stupid edutainment games. Thanks for wasting all our time, guys. See you never.04/17/2014 - 3:44pm
Matthew WilsonAgain the consequences were not only foreseeable, but very likely. anyone who understood supply demand curvs knew that was going to happen. SF has been a econ/trade hub for the last hundred years.04/17/2014 - 2:45pm
Andrew EisenMixedPixelante - Would you like to expand on that?04/17/2014 - 2:43pm
MaskedPixelanteWell, I am officially done with Night Dive Studios. Unless they can bring something worthwhile back, I'm never buying another game from them.04/17/2014 - 2:29pm
PHX Corphttp://www.msnbc.com/ronan-farrow/watch/video-games-continue-to-break-the-mold-229561923638 Ronan Farrow Daily on Video games breaking the mold04/17/2014 - 2:13pm
 

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