written by Peter David
illustrated by Eric Nguyen
Full disclosure: I’ve never played Halo. The closest I’ve ever come is the hours upon hours of GoldenEye that my friends and I played on the N64 back in college, but I know the basic mechanics of the first-person shooter genre of video games. However, this allows me a unique position to comment on this graphic novel as a comic, rather than an accessory to a huge property that has already spawned action figures, miniature strategy games, and alien fightin’ underpants.
I’ve been reading Peter David (no relation) since his days writing Star Trek paperbacks, and I’ve always enjoyed his ability to leap into almost any given property, understand how it works, and give it some humanity and humor. David delivers a deeply bromantic war story that works without knowing anything about Halo’s gameplay. There’s some talk of different classes of soldiers and supersuits that are used within the game itself, so while this surely enhances the mythology that surrounds the game if you’re a serious player, it’s still a pretty okay read if you just like things about shooting aliens, or war stories, or exquisitely drawn explosions with an absurd amount of shrapnel.
Nguyen’s artwork is great, and exceptionally detailed, though something seems to be lost in the coloring. While the hues are appropriate for the setting, it’s not easy to immediately distinguish camouflaged human forms in the hurricane of explosions and landscapes that fill the pages. It’s also fairly difficult to tell one character from another, as they’re generally masked, or similarly attired and coifed as a unit of soldiers—but the dialogue can go either way anyhow. It actually isn’t too important to tell who was saying what anyhow. I don’t know if this is a discredit to the story itself, but I didn’t feel like I wasn’t picking up on anything. Hint: One guy’s chestplate is a very subtle blue, and the other guy has a very subtle orange.
The artwork is consistent, which is tremendously hard to do when you’re creating a realistic world.
There’s a lot of gunfire, gory exploding aliens, mild profanity, and general themes of death and violence—but nothing too expressly offensive or unnecessary. When you’re battling an alien invasion, you’re going to say a few things that aren’t appropriate for the kids and maybe spray a little more blood than Nick Jr. would appreciate. If this can serve as a gateway into reading for a reluctant teenager, I would suggest taking advantage of it. There’s a growing world of Halo comics and paperbacks out there that can, in their own unique way, be used as learning tools.-- Collin David