Review - Halo: Initiation #2

"Spartans don't have rank because Spartan is your rank."

To become a part of an organization, often an initiation is required. Becoming a Spartan requires an even more grueling process in medical enhancements, training and perseverance. Dark Horse Comics gives readers a further glimpse into the process with Halo: Initiation #2.

The issue is written by Brian Reed, with art by Marco Castiello, colors by Michael Atiyeh and letters by Michael Heisler.

As home to the Spartan Project, Infinity is a popular target for rebels. One of those targets is Sara Palmer, an aspiring Spartan in training who's joined by others in an attempt to be the pride of the UNSC. Palmer is among the tops when it comes to Spartan recruits, effortlessly making her way through whatever training challenges are thrown her way. Even Musa-096, a former Spartan II is impressed, offering up tutelage for Sara and the others in the face of a major challenge.

Reed's writing is appropriate for the story. He's not exactly crafting a story that thrives on its content however; instead, it relies primarily on the property itself. Halo fans will find a lot to love about the book, but it's still accessible to others thanks to Reed's deft handling of the dialogue. There's a particularly satisfying one-page description of what physically happens when a Spartan is created, which is a nice tribute to fans of the game. Other than that, there's really not a lot as far as story goes that hasn't really been seen before in other military science fiction tales.

Castiello's art is very appropriate for the story. There are quite a few action shots throughout, although it would've been great if the Spartan training pages were illustrated in the first-person as a tribute to the games the comic is based on. Some of the characters look a little disproportionately stretched for whatever reason. It's not too distracting, but it does take away from getting immersed in the story that much more. There's not much of the actual Spartan armor on display, despite the references to its inevitable equipping to deal with the trials of the day.

The cliffhanger at the end isn't quite as satisfying as it could be and there's only one issue left. Reed and Castiello are doing a reasonable job with the source material, ensuring that nothing is too out of place in the Halo universe. The story itself though is rather bland when viewed without a popular IP lens. It's turning into a work that's definitely more for fans of the Halo universe than everyone else, which is fine. The emphasis is on the Spartans and their reputation as fierce warriors, offering readers a great glimpse into the UNSC world of elite combat.

Halo: Initiation #2 is in stores now with interiors below.