Halo Graphic Novel

Halo Graphic Novel

infobox Book |

name = Halo Graphic Novel
title_orig =
translator =

image_caption = The front cover of the "Halo Graphic Novel"
author = Various
cover_artist = Phil Hale
country = United States
language = English
series =
genre = Science fiction
publisher = Marvel Comics
release_date = July 19, 2006
media_type = Print
pages = 128
isbn = ISBN 0-7851-2372-5
oclc = 68262369
preceded_by =
followed_by =

"Halo Graphic Novel" is a graphic novel published by Marvel Comics in partnership with Bungie Studios. The "Halo" series began with the award-winning popular video game "", which spawned several books as well as video game sequels, and is focused on the story of future humanity fighting against a powerful collective of races called the Covenant. The "Halo Graphic Novel" is the series' first entry into the sequential art medium, and features aspects of the "Halo" universe which until then had not been discussed or seen in any medium.

The majority of the book is divided into four short stories by writers and artists from the computer game and comic industries. Each tale focuses on different aspects of the "Halo" universe, revealing stories that are tangential to the main plot of the game. The book also contains an extensive art gallery compiled of contributions from Bungie, Marvel and independent sources.

Released on July 19, 2006, the "Halo Graphic Novel" was well-received, with reviewers noting the cohesiveness of the work as a whole, as well as the diversity of the individual material. The success of the novel led to Marvel announcing a new limited comic series, which became known as "".

Background and publication

Bungie Studios' original concept of the graphic novel was to bring the "Halo" series into new media beyond that of video games, with sequential art being the main focus. cite web|author=Goldstein, Hilary|date=2006-06-23|url=http://uk.comics.ign.com/articles/714/714462p1.html|title=IGN: Exploring the Halo Graphic Novel (Part I)|publisher=IGN|accessdate=Feb 19|accessyear=2007] Initially unsuccessful in its pursuit of finding a partner and an effective license agreement, Lorraine McLees—an artist on the "Halo" development team—suggested that Bungie Studios finance and edit the novel itself before pursuing a publisher. This would allow the studio to maintain control over the content and pursue the venture unencumbered by outside intervention. This also gave the studio greater access to various artists that it hoped would contribute; the novel’s executive producer Brian Jarrard noted the procedure of creating the novel independently and outside the "traditional comic process" would prevent the "conflicts of interest and politics and allegiances" that could potentially arise if they approached a publisher or partner first.cite web|author=Goldstein, Hilary|date=2006-06-23|url=http://uk.comics.ign.com/articles/714/714462p1.html|title=IGN: Exploring the Halo Graphic Novel (Part II)|publisher=IGN|accessdate=Feb 19|accessyear=2007] Lead designer Maria Cabardo created a "dream team" roster of writers and artists Bungie admired, and through a period of negotiation Bungie was able to gain contributions from many of those named on the list. Buoyed by their success in approaching those in the medium that they respected and admired, including British comic book artist Simon Bisley and French artist Jean "Moebius" Giraud, the progress of "Halo Graphic Novel" was described as a "cool morale boost for our team to see their universe, their characters, realized by people that we idolize in the comic industry." cite web|date=2007-01-19|author=Staff|url=http://www.edge-online.co.uk/archives/2007/01/inside_bungie.php|title=Inside Bungie|work=Edge|accessdate=February 19|accessyear=2007|archivedate=2008-07-10|archiveurl=]

The novel was completed after a two-year development cycle and Bungie sought out a publisher, eventually approaching Marvel Comics. Bungie cited Marvel's "passion for "Halo" and "reach in the comic and publishing industry" as the main draws to the company. The studio worked alongside Marvel director of development Ruwan Jayatilleke, an early champion of the project, to assist in the distribution and publication of the novel. cite web|archiveurl=http://web.archive.org/web/20070203055515/http://www.bungie.net/News/TopStory.aspx?story=HGNJedi631sucks|archivedate=2007-02-03|date=2006-03-16|author=Milkie|url=http://www.bungie.net/News/TopStory.aspx?story=HGNJedi631sucks|title=Bungie Official Announcement|publisher=Bungie.net|accessdate=21 February|accessyear=2007]

The stories themselves were designed as glimpses into the "Halo" universe, including information on the inner workings of the alien Covenant, as well as details regarding elements of the back-story that were hitherto undisclosed. Jarrard explained that "The stories that happen off camera, the parallel events to the arcs that our fans know from the existing mediums, are the stories we really wanted to tell."cite web|year=2006|author=Staff|url=http://www.newsarama.com/marvelnew/Halo/HGNPre/HaloGN.html|title=Newsarama: Inside the Halo Graphic Novel|publisher=Newsarama|accessdate=2007-02-19|archivedate=2007-03-05|archiveurl=http://web.archive.org/web/20070305010537/http://www.newsarama.com/marvelnew/Halo/HGNPre/HaloGN.html] Jarrard further described this as an attempt to move away from the story of the Master Chief, the central character of the franchise, and focus instead on what they believed to be the core themes that lay behind the game universe, such as maintaining hope in the face of overwhelming odds and humanity's struggle for survival; themes that extended beyond "… a genetically enhanced super soldier picking up two guns and kicking some alien butt." The four stories that ended up in the final publication were "the most interesting to [Bungie] , and the writers of [the novel] ". Although Bungie created the story arcs present in the "Halo Graphic Novel", the studio described the importance of providing a framework for each story that the various artists and writers could tell without jeopardizing their own voice. Artist Simon Bisley said that "the stress was to make the characters look very much as they do in the game. Beyond that point I was given free rein to interpret the script and the action" based on what was given to the artists and writers.cite web|url=http://www.usatoday.com/tech/gaming/2006-05-10-halo-graphic-novel_x.htm|title=The non-stop 'Halo' effect|publisher=USA Today|accessdate=2008-02-15|author=Snider, Mark|date=2006-05-10]


Located after the main body of stories is a selection of art pieces that represent interpretations of the "Halo" universe from a number of comic book artists. These contributors include Doug Alexander, Rick Berry, Geof Darrow, and more than twenty-five others, both freelance and from Bungie Studios—including lead composer Martin O'Donnell. [cite web|url=http://nikon.bungie.org/misc/hgn_preview/index.html?display=inside_front_cover|title="Halo Graphic Novel Preview": Front Cover|publisher=Halo.Bungie.Org|accessdate=February 20|accessyear=2007]

A few promotional pieces were created before the "Halo Graphic Novel"'s release date, including a sixteen-page preview, released May 31, 2006, which contained Bungie's introductions to each story along with short excerpts of each story.cite web|url=http://nikon.bungie.org/misc/hgn_preview/|title="Halo Graphic Novel Preview"|publisher=Halo.Bungie.Org|accessdate=February 19|accessyear=2007] A full-color poster of the book's cover was released on June 28, 2006.cite web|author=Staff|date=2006-06-12|url=http://uk.comics.ign.com/articles/712/712165p1.html|title="Halo Graphic Novel Poster Preview"|publisher=IGN|accessdate=February 22|accessyear=2007]


The novel is split into four stories; each has an introduction by the creators of the work detailing their thoughts about the plot or their experiences adding to the "Halo" lore.

The Last Voyage of the Infinite Succor

"The Last Voyage of the Infinite Succor" takes place during and after the sixth mission of the video game '. During the game, players discover that the ringworld on which they are trapped, dubbed "Halo" by the enemy alien collective Covenant, is in fact a prison for a parasite known as the Flood, which breaks out of stasis and begins to spread across the ring. [343 Guilty Spark: Someone has released the Flood. My function is to prevent it from leaving this installation. —cite video game|title=Halo: Combat Evolved|developer=Bungie Studios|publisher=Microsoft|date=2001 |platform=Xbox|language=English|level=343 Guilty Spark] Halo was built by an ancient alien race known as the Forerunner to contain and study the Flood, but also as a weapon of last resort; faced with the prospect of the Flood consuming every thinking being in the universe, the Forerunner activated Halo, destroying themselves but also starving the Flood.Cortana: You have no idea how this ring works, do you? Why the forerunners built it? Halo doesn't kill Flood, it kills their food. Humans, Covenant, whatever. We're all equally edible. The only way to stop the Flood is to starve them to death. And that's exactly what Halo is designed to do: wipe the galaxy clean of all sentient life. You don't believe me? Ask him. / Master Chief: Is this true? / 343 Guilty Spark"': More or less. Technically, this installation's pulse has a maximum effective radius of twenty-five thousand light years. But, once the others follow suit, this galaxy will be quite devoid of life, or at least any life with sufficient biomass to sustain the Flood. —cite video game|title=Halo: Combat Evolved|developer=Bungie Studios|publisher=Microsoft|date=2001 |platform=Xbox|language=English|level=Two Betrayals]

In contrast to the player's point of view in the game, "The Last Voyage" focuses on the Covenant. In "Halo: Combat Evolved"'s sequel "Halo 2", players experience some of the plot through the eyes of the Arbiter, a Covenant warrior. The Arbiter is aided by a fellow Covenant Elite who is never named in the game itself; fans called the character "Half-Jaw" due to the Elite missing his mandibles on one side of his face. [cite web|year=2007|url=http://halosm.bungie.org/story/half-jaw.html|title=HBO Character Profiles|publisher=halo.bungie.org|accessdate=2007-06-03] "The Last Voyage" names the Elite Rtas 'Vadumee, explains his injury, and describes events during "Halo" that the player did not see.

In "The Last Voyage", Elite Special Operations Commander Rtas 'Vadumee and his team respond to a distress call and board the crippled supply craft "Infinite Succor", which the Covenant believe has been attacked by humans. The only crew member still alive, a Covenant Prophet, tells 'Vadumee that the "Succor" has been infested by the Flood, which escaped Halo on a Covenant dropship and crash landed in the "Succor"'s hangar. Currently stuck on the ship, the parasite intends to activate the "Succor"'s slipspace drive to escape the star system and find new planets to infect. Fighting waves of Flood, including the reanimated remains of his fallen soldiers, 'Vadumee plots a slipspace course that will destroy both the "Succor" and the Flood, then escapes via a Covenant shuttle.

The central premise behind the story of "The Last Voyage of the Infinite Succor" was to showcase both the true danger posed by the Flood and the inner workings of the Covenant military machine, to dispel the image that the Covenant "simply stand around waiting for the Chief to blast them"."Halo Graphic Novel", page 6 (ISBN 0785123725)] The story was written by Lee Hammock with art provided by Simon Bisley. Hammock described the process of writing the story as a "heady task" since he had to respect "Halo" fans' knowledge of the characters and canon, ensuring that "characters that [the fans] know as a part of themselves are portrayed aptly". These difficulties were mitigated by the knowledge that fans were not as intimately connected to the history of the character of Rtas as they were to the likes of the Master Chief; this allowed ample room to expand 'Vadumee's background in sync with the "Halo" canon while permitting the writer to "bring something new to the table"."Halo Graphic Novel", page 55 (ISBN 0785123725)]

Armor Testing

In the "Halo" universe, Earth and humanity's various colonies are governed by the United Nations Space Command. Faced with the technological superiority of the Covenant, humanity's chief hope is the tenacity of the SPARTANs, elite supersoldiers equipped with special armor. The main protagonist of the "Halo" series, the Master Chief, is one of the few SPARTANs in active service by the events of "Halo: Combat Evolved". "Armor Testing" takes place shortly before the opening of "Halo 2", as the UNSC field-tests a new version of the SPARTAN's armor in a series of exercises which prove to be a challenging endeavor for all involved. A lone SPARTAN puts the armor through its paces by dropping from Earth's atmosphere and engaging in a mock battle against UNSC special forces. This SPARTAN is revealed to be a woman, Maria-062, who has come out of retirement as a special favor to test the new equipment before it is sent to the Master Chief.

The concept of the story was inspired by "Skunkworks", a memoir of the testing of military projects at Lockheed;cite book | title=Skunkworks | publisher=Little, Brown and Company | id=ISBN 0316743003 | first=Ben R. | last= Rich| year=1996] highlighting the rigorous experimentation the SPARTAN equipment goes through before it ends up in the hands of the Master Chief was an idea that Bungie originally wanted to pursue at the beginning of "Halo 2". Bungie instead opted to communicate this background information at a later time."Halo Graphic Novel", page 56 (ISBN 0785123725)] "Armor Testing" was written by Jay Faerber with pencils by W. Andrew Robinson and colors by Ed Lee.

Breaking Quarantine

Like "The Last Voyage of the Infinite Succor", "Breaking Quarantine" deals with the Flood outbreak that occurs during "Halo". While "The Last Voyage" tells the story from the Covenant perspective, "Breaking Quarantine" highlights the escape of the human soldier Sgt. Johnson from the Flood. Johnson is a minor personality in "Halo: Combat Evolved" who becomes an important character in the following two games; while the novel "" explains that Johnson resists Flood infestation due to a medical condition, no other story up to that point explained how Johnson escapes. "Breaking Quarantine" is an example of Bungie’s attempts to expand the story arcs of secondary characters that would have no opportunity to go explained in the main storyline. Unlike the other stories, "Breaking Quarantine" contains no dialogue, only weapon sound effects, which are rendered in Japanese. Both art and story were provided by Tsutomu Nihei, a manga-ka and architect who based his illustrations directly on the structures found within the game."Halo Graphic Novel", page 83 (ISBN 0785123725)]

econd Sunrise over New Mombasa

Near the beginning of "Halo 2", the Covenant stumble upon humanity's best-guarded secret—the location of Earth—and launch a direct attack on the city of New Mombasa, Kenya. By the time players arrive at the city in "Halo 2", it is deserted; "Second Sunrise", which takes place during the attack, explains that this was not always the case. The story is told through the eyes of a reporter who creates propaganda for the UNSC. When the Covenant invade the city, the reporter and fellow citizens take to its defense, until they are forced to flee as the city faces ruin.

Bungie described "Second Sunrise" as an attempt to put a human face on the conflict by illustrating the effects of war on the common citizen."Halo Graphic Novel", page 84 (ISBN 0785123725)] The story was written by Brett Lewis with art provided by Jean "Moebius" Giraud. Giraud explained that his son's enjoyment of the game series ultimately compelled him to accept an invitation to contribute his art; before writing, he had never played the video games."Halo Graphic Novel", page 99 (ISBN 0785123725)]


Critical reaction from both the gaming community and the comic book community was positive. UGO Networks praised the novel, citing the wealth of contributions from recognized artists and the strength of the material in fleshing out the "Halo" universe as the work's greatest strength.cite web|author=Oliveri, Wayne|url=http://www.ugo.com/channels/comics/features/halo/default.asp|title="UGO Review"|publisher=UGO|accessdate=20 February|accessyear=2007] cite web|author=Goldstein, Hilary|date=2006-07-12|url=http://uk.comics.ign.com/articles/719/719171p1.html|title=IGN Review: Halo Graphic Novel|publisher=IGN|accessdate=20 February|accessyear=2007] Mike Deeley of Comics Bulletin lauded the book for the diverse range of storytelling and art styles that lent the "Halo Graphic Novel" the feel of an anthology yet still retained a cohesive whole.cite web|author=Deeley, Mike|date=2006-08-23|url=http://www.silverbulletcomicbooks.com/reviews/115635878171387.htm|title="Silver Bullet Comics Review"|publisher=silverbulletcomicbooks.com|accessdate=20 February|accessyear=2007] Other areas that received particular attention included Tsutomu Nihei's work on "Breaking Quarantine" for its vivid imagery and its focus on visual storytelling in lieu of any dialogue.cite web|date=2006-06-15|author=Staff|url=http://www.gametrailers.com/player/12449.html|title="Halo Graphic Novel" Review|publisher=GameTrailers|accessdate=20 February|accessyear=2007]

Some reviewers expressed their disappointment at the novel's focus on minor characters and events, with the presence of the Master Chief—the central character of the "Halo" series and its most iconic figure—limited to featuring in artwork and a brief appearance in the first story.citeweb|url=http://www.firingsquad.com/features/halo_graphic_novel/default.asp|title="Firingsquad Review"|publisher=Firingsquad.com|date=2005-08-06|accessdate=20 February|accessyear=2007|author=Callaham, John] On the other hand, GameTrailers praised Bungie for having the moxie to not focus on the major character. Each publication had their own opinions on the weakest story in the collection; both IGN and GameTrailers thought that "Armor Testing" had the least emotional impact, although its surprise ending and art were well done.

Upon release, the "Halo Graphic Novel" proved to be a "rare hit" for the games-to-comics genre, debuting at #2 on both the Nielsen BookScan and Diamond sales charts. [cite web|url=http://www.newsarama.com/marketreport/july06sales.html|title=July 2006 Sales Reports|publisher=Newsarama|accessdate=2008-01-20|year=2006|month=July|archivedate=2007-03-17|archiveurl=http://web.archive.org/web/20070317161708/http://www.newsarama.com/marketreport/july06sales.html] At least 100,000 copies were rumored to have been published,cite web|author=MacDonald, Heidi|date=2006-08-16|url=http://pwbeat.publishersweekly.com/blog/2006/08/18/halo-gn-selling-like-hotcakes/?q=halo+graphic+novel|title=HALO GN selling like hotcakes|publisher=Publisher's Weekly|accessdate=2008-02-10] and the comic continued to be one of the top-selling graphic novels months after its debut. [cite web|url=http://www.newsarama.com/marketreport/aug06charts.html|title=August 2006 Sales Charts|publisher=Newsarama|accessdate=2008-01-20|year=2006|month=August|archivedate=2007-07-12|archiveurl=http://web.archive.org/web/20070712102358/http://www.newsarama.com/marketreport/aug06charts.html] The success of the novel led Marvel Comics and Bungie Studios to announce a four-issue monthly "Halo" comic series at San Diego Comic-Con 2006 called "".cite web|author=Goldstein, Hilary|date=2006-07-21|url=http://uk.comics.ign.com/articles/720/720412p1.html|title="San Diego 2006 Comic-Con Announcement"|publisher=IGN|accessdate=February 21|accessyear=2007] Despite delays, the first issue of the limited series was released on August 22, 2007. [cite web|url=http://www.marvel.com/catalog/?id=7013|title=Catalog: Halo Uprising #1|publisher=Marvel Comics|accessdate=2008-01-31]


External links

* [http://halo.bungie.net Bungie Studios]
* [http://www.marvelcomics.com Marvel Comics]
* [http://halo.wikia.com/wiki/Halo_Graphic_Novel Halopedia page on Halo Graphic Novel]

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