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Is It Good? Halo: Escalation #1 Review

Although I really disliked Halo Initiation, I decided to keep going with the story, continuing with the next mini-series: Escalation. Much to my delight when I opened this here comic, there was a brand new creative team. With a writer and an artist I have never heard of, this book seemed like it might just be able to forgive the sins of its predecessor. Is it good?

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Halo: Escalation #1 (Dark Horse Comics)

This is a continuation of Sarah Palmer’s story. If it takes place before or after the latest game, I don’t know. I have played very little Halo in my life so it’s hard for me to compare this comic storywise.

It took at least three read-throughs of the cover page of the story alone, at least two or three readings of the actual comic and quite a few Google searches for me to fully understand this comic’s plot. I won’t chalk this up to lazy or poor writing, though. I just think that it is relying heavily on people to have played the games before reading. That’s fine, because in the end I did get a pretty good idea of what the story was.

Sarah Palmer and Infinity have been working the Jul ‘Mdama mission, with some success. Despite their victories, Infinity’s superiors at the Highcom Facility decide that Infinity would be more helpful if they were working on subduing the Covenant threat in the joint-occupation zones. To fans of the games and comics the Covenants must be familiar; for me, it took a little while to understand who and what exactly they were. As I discovered, they are “brutes,” as every character in the comic likes to call them, and are primitive yet strong monsters.

I almost felt like I was playing the game in the opening scene

As Palmer and her crew go to meet other races and representatives to further discuss how to handle the issue they are attacked by Covenants themselves. Oh no!

I found this story to seem a lot more like the source material. I almost felt like I was playing as Sarah in that opening scene; the action was fun and intended to evoke a thrilling nature. The dialogue sounded a lot like video game banter and the flow of events also seemed like something that might take place on screen. This comic is a successful comic book adaptation, not just a comic inspired by the games.

Although the action plays out like a game, the plot flows more like a movie. I did feel like I was watching the first 30 minutes of a Halo film, which diminished the cliffhanger ending but made the in-book tension more real. There was very little exposition and the one flashback scene gave a lot of context and really helped enrich the story. It was fast and relied heavily on the dialogue to tell the story, much like a movie of the same genre.

Sarah Palmer makes an intriguing protagonist, especially the way she involves herself in some of the plot. One of my problems with Initiation was Palmer’s over-involvement in the series and the lack of a supporting cast. It seems that that problem is fixed, as Palmer still plays a large part in the story, but leaves room for other characters to share the attention.

While the pacing is great writing wise, the art seems kind of lacking. A lot of crazy raisin faces and a lot of strange figures. The inking is also over the top and makes the faces even worse. The colors aren’t bad, however.


  • Story is new and refreshing
  • A true to the source adaptation
  • Fun action scenes
  • A few art decisions are questionable
  • Lots of confusion, too much

Is It Good?

Leaps and bounds better than the last series, that’s for damn sure. A lot of the story is really hard to understand, especially for all of us who aren’t fans of the game. That was really the only reason keeping me from giving this book the highest possible rating, just the fact that I had to reread and decipher every single sentence.

I did really enjoy Sarah as a character, the fast pacing, the fun plot, the realistic dialogue, really everything writing wise. I’ll definitely stick with this series, it has a lot of promise.


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