Friday, August 23, 2013

Halo: Initiation #1 Review

Spartan Commander Sarah Palmer stars in the 3-part comic series Halo: Initiation.
Halo has a good variety of supporting female characters, including pilots, AI, soldiers, Spartans, and scientists. Initiation is actually the second female-lead storyline, counting Halo: Reach's customizable protagonist, and the mobile game Spartan Assault also features Palmer.

(Meanwhile, Call of Duty introduced its first playable female character this month. This has been a friendly aside.)

Initiation further adds to Halo lore by explaining the origin of the Spartan-IVs and featuring some recurring characters. The art is rich and detailed, not unique but easy to follow and capable of portraying both the technology and the human emotion needed for the Halo universe.

The dialogue in the beginning is stiff and expository - try not to judge the comic by the first few pages. It improves afterward, with some cool action and Palmer saving a general from toothy aliens. This series promises a story of transformation, and in the last few pages also adds to the story of a character I didn't think would show up in the franchise again.

The story of the first issue is pretty simple, showing the discovery of a hero. Palmer is enthusiastic and funny, and I like her portrayal in the comic significantly more than the cold leader we saw in Halo 4. I will be interested to see whether the comic notices and follows that change in her character. She's both strong and human. Her mention of her father reinforces both aspects of her character at once.

Issue 1 of  Initiation has a lot of things that make it pretty important reading for a fan of Halo lore - a crippled Spartan, ODST loyalty, the beginning of the Spartan-IV program, and that Thing That Happens at the end. I'm glad that simply having a female lead isn't unusual for Halo. In the comic, Palmer is unique without being pushy about it. The reader can see that she was chosen for the Spartan-IV program because she survived a dangerous mission and rescued someone who wasn't even supposed to be in a firefight. The accidental nature of her heroism works to take her down from the pedestal Halo 4 placed her on, I think, but she's still strong and victorious. And there isn't a single moment where anyone points out Palmer's gender.


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