Review - Halo: Initiation #1

"Are you familiar with the Spartans?"

You'd be hard-pressed to find someone who couldn't tell you that a Spartan is a fierce warrior. They're known for their battle prowess, proficiency with weapons and monsters on the battlefield. They also carry plasma grenades, Battle Rifles and are proficient with Plasma Swords. Wait. What? That's right, Spartans are also in the Halo universe and they're making an appearance in a brand new series from Dark Horse Comics called Halo: Initiation #1.

The issue is written by Brian Reed, illustrated by Marco Castiello, colored by Michael Atiyeh and lettered by Michael Heisler.

Halo: Initiation #1 follows Lance Corporal Sarah Palmer, an ODST: Orbital Drop Shock Trooper. She's a bruiser, not afraid to get in the thick of things and the next level up from the standard ground troops. By either fate or coincidence, she manages to save Admiral Kovalic from the brutalities of battle and, in doing so, manages to gain the attention of some higher-ups who want to enroll her in a special program.

It's clear that Reed is familiar with the Halo universe, as Halo: Initiation #1 features everything that fans of the series will love to see in a comic book. Writing a book that exists in the Halo universe is tricky, because there are a certain set of rules that must be followed to stay within canon. Reed does a great job adhering to the source material, ensuring that nothing is out of place and everything makes sense. And this book has grunts, Brutes, plasma pistols, gravity hammers...even flipping a Warthog with a grenade.

While the work pays respect to the source material, it's steeped in it. And that will make it a little tough for new readers to pick up and get into the swing of things. On its own the story is pretty good, but a lot of it relies on the reader knowing how the ranks in the UNSC shake out. Spartans are treated with the utmost respect...they're even revered in the military circles. A lot of that knowledge comes from playing the games though, which will detract from the enjoyment of new readers.

Castiello's art is very careful and pays great respect to what Halo fans know the universe to look like. There's a Brute who is featured in a good chunk of the issue and that Brute is illustrated perfectly. Scenes featuring combat are done appropriately and move along rather quickly, right alongside the unfolding story. A Spartan is featured briefly in the issue, but when more make an appearance it'll definitely be exciting. Seeing a Warthog both flip over and run over some Covenant is just as satisfying on the page as it is on the screen.

There are two audiences for Halo: Initiation #1. The first is the die hards; the ones who live and breathe the Halo universe and will consume anything and everything Master Chief is involved in. The other audience is comprised of readers who are into sci-fi and have a passing knowledge of the universe. The latter audience may have a little difficulty getting into the book, but it's expected that future issues will help alleviate any reader growing pains that come with the book. It's a strong, plasma grenaded jump into a new Halo series, one that promises to offer the epic battles we've come to expect from the Covenant.

Halo: Initiation #1 will be in stores August 14 with interiors below.