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 EisenOh yeah, some outlets sensationalize things (especially with the chosen headline). No argument there. As far as gender issues not being widespread? I'm inclined to disagree but I suppose it depends on what specifically you're talking about.09/19/2014 - 3:43pm
SleakerI think I've been qualitatively informed by those Factual Femenist videos that there isn't reallly a widespread gender issue, and that there are select news outlets that try to sensationalize things.09/19/2014 - 3:37pm
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NeenekoI have met some real jerks and slimeballs in gender activism, but when I hear the idea that there are many 'not nice' people it comes across as code for 'uppity people who do not know their place'.09/19/2014 - 12:10pm
Andrew EisenKrono - Many of the people pushing gender issues aren't nice people? I'm sure not everyone's a sweatheart but so far, everyone I've seen with such a critique had absolutely nothing to back them up.09/19/2014 - 10:46am
InfophileI think there's a qualitative difference between a site and a hashtag though. GP can ban anyone from commenting, so they can have the image they want. But anyone can use any hashtag and try to poison it. Granted, that hasn't happened to the other one yet09/19/2014 - 10:13am
E. Zachary KnightKrono, your comparison to GP does not work. We do not need to get rid of GP, because no one associates GP with trolls and abuse. The same can't be said for gamergate.09/19/2014 - 10:09am
Krono@Michael You don't remember the "other hashtag" because no one actually uses it. We're talking 836,983 uses of #gamergate over it's lifetime, and 8,119 for the "alternative". 47,129 uses on the 18th vs 41. With #notyourshield at 140,133 uses & 5,209 uses09/19/2014 - 9:48am
Kronoresearch it. Changing tags to get away from trolls would be like wiping GamePolitics and restarting under a new name to get away from people calling Jack Thompson a filthy names in the comments section.09/19/2014 - 9:35am
Sleaker@quiknkold - seems like all that page is is a bunch of random developer opinions and rumors that we're supposedto do what with?09/19/2014 - 9:31am
Kronoas an opportunity to push back against them. It's one of the things muddling the issue. @conster A new hashtag would do nothing to improve anything. Trolls will simply follow to the new hashtag, and it will confuse the issue for anyone attempting to09/19/2014 - 9:25am
Krono@Andrew aaah. Yes, I'm sure there's some of that. Part of the problem is many of the people pushing gender issues are not very nice people. Basically the latest incarnation of moralists we've seen in the past couple decades. Naturually some will take this09/19/2014 - 9:23am
quiknkoldhttp://www.nichegamer.net/2014/09/real-gamedevs-sound-off-regarding-the-gamergate-controversy/09/19/2014 - 8:35am
MaskedPixelanteMeanwhile, in news that actually DOES matter, Scotland voted "NO" to Scottish independance.09/19/2014 - 8:20am
ConsterSeriously? "We shouldn't make a new hashtag - it's better to associate ourselves with psychos than to decrease our visibility"?09/19/2014 - 7:54am
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quiknkold2 to 3 or more09/19/2014 - 6:53am
quiknkoldMichael Chandra : I'll say this. The only reason they havent used another hashtag is because it would look like a form of dividing the arguement. Using another Hashtag has come up, and they feel like if they made a new hashtag, it'll split the debate from09/19/2014 - 6:53am
Michael ChandraYou want a debate? Build a wall between you and the poisoned well. Make clear you despise it, despise the behaviour. Then get into the other issues you are troubled with, and don't say a single word again about the poisoned well.09/19/2014 - 3:46am
Michael ChandraAnd someone claiming #notyourshield was to be taken serious, when chatlogs show they wanted it going to hide even more harassment behind? Yeah, not buying a word you're saying. You poisoned your own well.09/19/2014 - 3:45am
 

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