Review – Halo: Escalation #2 (Dark Horse Comics)

22702Publisher: Dark Horse Comics
Writer: Chris Schlerf
Artist: Sergio Ariño
Release Date: 8th January 2014

Before I get into my rant on turning properties like video games into comic books let me start off by saying this was a well done attempt. The story telling is put together well, though some of the dialogue was a little redundant at times. It was just tiresome to read ‘Brutes’ and ‘Arbiters’ constantly in descriptions for characters. I understand those are the proper names, but can we get a little more creative? The artwork I thought was excellent. Very clean lines full of good movement to move the story along and to coincide with the fast paced action of the story. So all in all, from a pure comic release of story and art, well done gentlemen.

I’m not sure if this picks up with the ending of the latest Halo game which I could be wrong but I believe was Halo 4. I cannot be sure I am a Playstation guy and haven’t played a Halo game since 2, I believe. So if there is continuation here I am at a loss, so don’t hate on me too bad if I’m misinformed of the events that lead up unto where Escalation takes place.

The story is following a team of Spartans led by a female Spartan Sarah Palmer (recently removed from a ‘hunt and pacify’ mission seeking an renegade prisoner now leading a band of Covenants), to a diplomatic mission proceeding over peace talks between a Brute Chieftain, Lydus, and The Arbiter. The peace talks are to quell fights over resources that Brutes are stealing because they are not intelligent enough to mine themselves, and the UNSC is hoping that by helping barter a peace they can share in the resources themselves. The first issues leaves us with the peace talks being attacked by a force of Covenants with no indication of who is leading them, aside from the fact that is it neither the Arbiter’s forces nor the Lydus’ forces. Now the second issue keeps rolling with this. The groups are on the move trying to re-establish communications with the UNSC fleet and get the diplomats to safety.

 Their attempts are being hindered by the introduction of the possibility of a mole in their midst. So you can imagine what is going on within the pages of the latest issue! Now with a description of what’s happening – which is undeniably a decent story – I will go off on my rant. For properties to spread across many mediums I think is a slippery slope. Fans can be lost or turned off from a franchise when it decides to try and cash in by taking and continuing a story, not from where it originated and has become a staple, but to a new medium that the fan may not already have an interest in. I for one enjoyed what little bit of the Halo games I played, but that would not drive me to want to read the comics. The same goes with any game. I was a huge fan of Mass Effect but did not have the desire to follow it into the comic world, even though I am already a fan of said medium. However I know that there are rabid fans that would follow a story no matter where it goes.

Aside from a lack of strong dialogue at times this was a fairly entertaining read. Though I have no clue of what events take place before this story begins, the writer does an excellent job of making it accessible to new readers. If you are a die-hard Halo fan then I would assume you are already reading this to stay up to date with the happenings in the Halo universe, and if not, I suggest you start. If you are a new reader with no knowledge whatsoever of the Halo universe this may not be somewhere you want to start, as you will be at a loss for what some of the characters and races are that are discussed. All that being said, it’s still a fairly entertaining bit of comic science fiction.

Rating: 6/10.

Review by: Shane Hoffman (AKA “Hoff”)

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