Contributors included designers at Bungie Studios (which developed the Halo series), as well as some internationally famous comics creators such as Moebius and Simon Bisley.
Halo Not Really a Graphic Novel
Despite its name (and price tag) The Halo Graphic Novel doesn't really qualify as such. It's a collection of four short comic book stories, followed by a gallery section of Halo-related pin-up art.
Little connects the four tales, other than the rather thin Halo backstory. What is a gripping, and sometimes even poetic, experience as an FPS video game does not translate well into a comic book, at least as presented here.
The first, and longest, story in The Halo Graphic Novel is by Simon Bisley and Lee Hammock. In "The Last Voyage of the Infinite Succor," a squadron of Covenant Troops must fight off waves of Flood zombies that have infested a Covenant ship; the troops are picked off in bloody combat until it is up to the leader to destroy the ship before it can escape the star system.
Bisley, who is best known as a sci-fi/fantasy artist, paints this story with his usual flair for gore and mutated creatures. But his gaudy colors and busy layouts muddle the action scenes, making them blend together without much pacing or interest. Hammock's script attempts to explore the point of view of Halo's alien enemies, but ultimately comes off as a cliched tale of military duty.
"Armor Testing," a story about Master Chief Petty Officer John-117's armor suit is an improvement over the first story. But, at around a dozen pages, the tale is little more than a vignette.
The clean, colorful art by Ed Lee and Andrew Robinson makes it easy to follow the action, and is made to evoke a cel-shaded cartoon. There's a neat reveal at the end which not only will please Halo fans, but has distinct echoes of Metroid as well.
"Breaking Quarantine," by mangaka Tsutomu Nihei, is also brief. Containing no dialogue, it depicts Sergeant Major Avery J. Johnson's escape from the Flood from Halo: Combat Evolved, the first game in the series.
Thus Tsutomu Nihei's art illustrates a scenario written by Bungie staffers, and it shows – not much happens aside from a brief, gore-packed pantomime which will leave Halo fans unsatisfied, and non-fans wondering what all the fuss is about.
The final story, by Brett Lewis and Moebius (aka Jean Giraud) has more promise. Moebius, who is no stranger to offbeat comics collaboration, took on the project because his son plays Halo. Lewis writes for Moebius a story about media censorship leading up to the destruction of New Mombasa in Halo continuity.
There's more meat to Lewis's script than the rest of The Halo Graphic Novel stories, perhaps because Lewis knew little about the Halo games before signing up. He is able to create a story which has some resonance even for those who aren't versed in the game's mythology.
Likewise, Moebius is in excellent form, demonstrating the clean lines and colorful palette for which the French master is well known. While his art certainly doesn't lack detail, he doesn't obsess over the minutia of Halo designs to the detriment of creating his own unique version of New Mombasa.
Halo Graphic Novel For Die-Hard Fans Only
Ultimately, The Halo Graphic Novel has little to interest those who have not already been introduced to the successful video game series. The volume is fragmentary, without any overarching theme to hold it together, and the individual pieces – despite a few flashes of inspiration – aren't as polished as they should be.