The first issue of “Halo: Escalation” reads very much like the opening to a video game, which makes a lot of sense considering it was penned by the lead writer of “Halo 4,” Christopher Schlerf. It starts out slow, with a quick introduction to the central characters, and a ton of plot setup that’s really only an excuse to get some pieces into place, then just when you think you won’t be able to stand crawling through the level without firing a shot for another second, the action starts up and you’re off on an adventure. It’s unfortunate that “Escalation #1” cuts off right as things are just heating up. But it does save itself by giving readers five or six pages of action before the inevitable “To Be Continued.”
For people who haven’t been religiously following Halo since the first game, jumping into the franchise here is probably a bad idea. It draws on a lot of elements introduced throughout the series, which is a great thing franchises are able to do when they’ve become successful, but anyone just wanting to pick up a new comic to read will only find confusion here. And explosions. So maybe it’s worth it just for those.
Structurally and artistically, the comic is great. This is my first Halo comic, so it’s a little odd seeing the slightly cartoonish style of the book and mentally comparing it to the more realistic, beautiful scenery found in the video games. Obviously there’s no contest, but the art style never gets in the way of the story that’s being told and it’s more than serviceable, making the pages found in this issue all the more pleasing to go through.
Speaking of the story, I do wish I liked this one better. It’s awfully political for a Halo story. Though I should say that I’m much more interested in stories that are focused on characters. I enjoyed the struggle of Noble Team in Reach, and the detective work of the Rookie in ODST. I could care less about the politics of war – or in this case the politics of the post-war universe – just give me someone with a solid goal to focus on.
It sounds like I’m bashing it, but the opening pages will interest die hard fans of the series, and for those of us that are left, we do get a really great setup toward the end. I love what Schlerf has done to put together a real rag-tag group of characters and get them into a seemingly no-win situation. It’s great, and if we can do away with the politics from here on out and worry about survival and working as a team and all that good stuff, I’ll be into this series for the long haul.
“Halo: Escalation #1” was published by Dark Horse Comics, and is available today for the price of $3.99.