Okay, so yeah–I know this is Halo Toy News and not Halo Comic Reviews, but cut me a break here. Halo figure news is a mite slow right now, and this is literally the first Halo comic book published in 2013. Ever since I got my Halo 4 Play Arts Kai Sarah Palmer figure in the spring, I’ve been wanting to know more about Sarah Palmer’s past. Thanks to the Dark Horse Comics Halo: Initiation #1 comic book, now I can! Is this Halo comic book worth your dollars?
In a nutshell, Halo Initiation #1 gives us the groundwork for the beginnings of the SPARTAN-IV program, some glimpses at Sarah Palmer’s distinguished career as an ODST, and definitive confirmation that a certain Spartan-III has survived past the end of the Halo 3 video game (no spoilers, but I think you all know who I’m talking about).
The action in this book surprised me, as artist Marco Castiello has managed to draw action sequences that are both exciting and easy to follow. Oftentimes I have difficulty telling exactly what’s going on I’m the action in military comics (including Halo comics), but Castiello’s art makes the action-packed issue flow seamlessly.
There are a couple things about this issue that really bugged me. First off, I didn’t like that Brian Reed decided to create a new, previously unmentioned Spartan-II–Musa–for this story. There’s several preexisting Spartans from Eric Nylund’s excellent “Halo Fall of Reach” novel that could fill the same role in the plot, and using a “real” Spartan-II from elsewhere in the Halo Expanded Universe would have made this story feel more like a cohesive part of a whole and less like a standalone story that’s only loosely connected to the Halo novels.
In addition, I wasn’t crazy about the depiction of the Jiralhanae (Brute) Chieftain in the issue as being a mindless beast. We’ve seen enough intelligent, thinking Brutes in the Halo Expanded Universe to know that they’re not all unthinking monsters, so I was bummed to see the one in this issue basically just being a feral animal.
Also, I thought it was really bizarre that there were Grunt Storms running around in this issue and teaming up with Brute Chieftains prior to Halo 4 and the implementation of the SPARTAN-IV program. I’m no continuity guru, but that doesn’t seem right to me at all.
If your local comic book shop doesn’t have it (or if you don’t have a local comic book shop), you can grab Halo: Initiation #1 off of Amazon from a ton of sellers for less than the cover price of $3.99 (though you will have to pay shipping for the comic).
Overall: on the whole, I thought this was easily one of the best Halo comic books that I’ve ever read. Unlike so much of the Halo comic book universe, Halo: Initiation #1 isn’t just a filler story or a reselling of events we’ve already seen in the novels–it’s an all-new, meaningful origin story for both Sarah Palmer and the SPARTAN-IV program. Both the content and the action in this story are well-done, and despite some flaws/nitpicking with the plot, I felt that my $3.99 was well spent on this issue. If you’re at all interested in Sarah Palmer or the events leading up to Halo 4, this first issue of Halo: Initiation gets a thumbs up review and a recommend from me.