Halo Initiated

GameStop, Inc.

Halo 01

Halo: Initiation is an upcoming comic book, 3 part series produced by Dark Horse Comics. Brian Reed, the comic writer who adapted Halo: The Fall of Reach novel into comic form in 2010 before joining 343 Industries to write the Halo 4 game, will write the books, with Marco Castiello (Star Wars: Purge) on art.

Initiation is an origin story of sorts for Sarah Palmer and the Spartan IV program, some of you may remember her as the Spartan Commander aboard the UNSC Infinity in Halo 4. The story opens with a group of men that have been called together by Fahjad Musa. Musa was originally a candidate for the Spartan II program, but when he developed Parkinson’s from the process he was eventually moved to an administrative position within the Office of Naval Intelligence.

Musa proceeds gives us a short description of the Spartan program, how it initially involved taking children from their families at very young ages and developed into Super Soldiers under the direction of Dr. Catherine Halsey. It is under this program that that John-117 or Master Chief was trained and augmented. The story does have a few cliché touches at this point, how kidnapping children was an atrocity but in hindsight humanity would have become extinct if it weren’t for the exploits of the Spartans and John-117 in particular. In the end of that act Musa reveals that he has restarted the Spartan program in order to protect humanity, which we later learn is through recruitment and not the abduction of child candidates.

The story then transitions to the story of Sarah Palmer, and for me this is where the comic goes from passable art and intriguing story-telling and off into a whole new place entirely. From the first panels we are given a heartfelt backstory, a brief history of the Spartan program. Then when we shift over to the character who we are supposed to connect with it turns into panel after panel of grunts and bangs and almost zero dialogue. I understand this is needed for some action sequences but it goes on for a length that almost speaks laziness in order to fill space and not develop the story in any way. Each of these panels are horizontal slices on each page that to me just shout filler.

Each of these stories does serve a purpose though, to give us a little backstory of the program and the characters involved in them. After an injury during a battle as an ODST, Sarah Palmer awakens in a hospital room with Jun-A266 at her bedside inviting her to join the new Spartan IV program. Jun himself was part of the Spartan III program and one of the only survivors of The Fall of Reach, having been sent away by his teammates to protect Dr. Halsey and her research.

While the story may be short, and have limitations at times I for one am excited for the characters that have been brought into focus and am very curious to see where this goes. A lot of lore has been focused around Dr. Halsey and the Spartan program as a whole since the Halo games changed hands to 343 studios. For me it adds another dimension to the stories that we didn’t have before, the human element that may have been lacking from the Spartans we have come to know, we may have played as Spartans, Covenant, Elite or ODST’s in the games. But the human support around us fell with little or no consequence in the story line. Halo the Fall of Reach and Halo 4 changed much of that, adding names, faces and personalities to the Spartans rather than just accepting them as killing machines. Maybe soon we will find out a lot more about who John and the other Spartans are beneath their MJOLNIR armor.

I have been a gamer for 30 years now, and as I sit down to write about the new Dark Horse Comic Halo: Initiation that fact hits me like a ton of bricks. For most of my life now games and comics have remained constants. Not many outlets have provided the richness of story line and character development that the Halo universe has, through games, books, comics and video there really is something for everyone.

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