Thursday, September 10, 2009

He Was My Lover (Halo)

This article was written for Halopedia:

I would like to address the subject of homophobia and Halo, both the franchise and its community. Although I previously went over it in my blog article Politics... How Tiresome, there I only gave it a brief paragraph because the focus of the article was much greater. Here I will describe my thoughts in detail. The word ‘homophobia’, while it might literally mean ‘fear of sameness’, is used to mean ‘fear of homosexuality’ and is typically used as a general term referencing prejudice against LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transsexual) people for their homosexuality. LGBT individuals make up a part of the gaming community, and I know there are at least four registered on Halopedia. I believe all demographics should be respected within both the franchise itself and the Halo community. There are a few explicit instances of homophobia within Halo, which are basically throwaway comments made by soldiers. While these comments may not be that bad in the grand scheme of things, I believe that their presence negatively colors Halo in the absence of truly gay characters in the series.

First of all, just so we’re all on the same page, I’ll go over some of the basics. Homosexuality is a sexual orientation in which one feels romantically toward members of the same sex/gender. While there are many stereotypes associated with someone being gay, generally involving gay guys behaving in manners associated with femininity and lesbians behaving in manners associated with masculinity, this is not universally true. Many gay people blend into the heterosexual community without much effort and are only recognized as gay when they themselves choose to come out or are outed. It is often said that if all gay people were to turn blue, we would be shocked by all the blue faces. Betty DeGeneres has made this statement: “Let me suggest that we all know someone who is left-handed. Lefties make up roughly the same percentage [of the population] as gay people. And yet millions of Americans say they don't know someone who is gay. Unless those people who claim ignorance are living in a place called Fantasyland, they are most likely mistaken.” Homosexuality is not a term for sexual perversion, and gay individuals are no more likely to be pedophiles, rapists, or into bestiality than are heterosexual individuals. See Wikipedia’s article on homosexuality for more information. I think it’s a shame I have to say this at all, but experience in discussing respect for LGBT persons in the Halo community suggests this is the case.

The first explicitly homophobic comment is in Halo: First Strike, page 283. Corporal Locklear, while preparing to blow up the Forerunner Crystal, muses to himself that he needs to get away before he gets so desperate that he asks a Spartan out on a date, and then shudders when he thinks of the possibility of asking out a male Spartan because he can’t tell their genders apart when they’re in armor. Okay, I get that he’s heterosexual and wouldn’t want to date a man, but is that really worth a shudder? It might be an awkward faux pas, but a shudder indicates revulsion. Technically Locklear’s not the nicest character, but given the lack of explicitly gay-friendly characters in Halo it seems as though the line would unfairly pander to the homophobic readers.

The second comment is in Halo: Contact Harvest, page 83 (original full-sized paperback version, anyway). Petty Officer Healy has become aware that Avery Johnson and Nolan Byrne have some kind of history. He asks Johnson if they’re friends, and Johnson takes a while to answer that he’s “known him a long time”, perhaps hinting to the reader that they were in the Spartan-I program together. In response, Healy teases that they must be “lovebirds”. The conversation is then quickly forgotten when Byrne comes in and tries to kill Johnson.

It is a common occurrence in the present day for straight guys to playfully accuse each other of being gay. The context of the scene with two straight male soldiers would suggest that this should realistically be a lot more graphic than “lovebirds” and that author Joseph Staten deliberately downplayed it to keep his novel from being vulgar. Does the ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ policy still exist in 2524? The culture still seems unfriendly to gay people, anyway. The soft-core sex scene at the end of the book shows that the author sees a heterosexual sexual affair as something beautiful, actively promoting expression of heterosexuality, let leaving behind homosexuality as just a joke between a couple of straight guys.

The third comment is in Halo: The Cole Protocol, page 22 (original full-sized version). It is similar to the second one with soldiers teasing each other. Edgar Sykes notices Jacob Keyes reacting to an old injury and offers a hand to help him out of the cryo tube, and Keyes jokes “You asking me out on a date?” to take control of the situation and make himself appear the tough Lieutenant. Aside from the ridiculousness of a soldier asking out his superior, there is the element of homophobia to turn that into an insult.

The fourth comment is in the same book. The same sentiment is later repeated on page 119 when Peter Bonifacio strikes Ignatio Delgado as retribution for a previous insult. Delgado then says “You’re such a charmer. You like this on all your first dates?” Sarcastic, obviously ridiculous, and homophobic too.

Am I sensitive to the issue? Definitely. As homophobic comments go, I have most certainly been exposed to worse. Overall these comments are not that bad. It is, however, objectionable that there are no gay characters in Halo canon. There are plenty of straight characters, an explicit sex scene, and other sexual elements, but homosexuality has been relegated to only a few odd comments.

Now I can understand why Bungie would not want to have an explicit LGBT character out there in the games. The games are largely produced with the average unsophisticated gamer in mind, leading to such classically corny moments as Miranda’s “to war” line, which I suppose is on the surface cool but really makes no sense in context (But, Miranda, where do they go?). As homophobia runs rampant in the general gaming community, I can see where it would be a bad business move to have a gay character right out there in the open. It’s in the expanded universe that I would like to see more of teh gay. But no, the 26th century seems pretty gay-free, both in the human faction and in the aliens’. In a world with diverse alien species, one would expect that at least one of them would exhibit sexual orientations other than heterosexuality. Not that it wouldn’t be an issue of its own if there was homosexuality but only among the aliens, but it would at least be something.

Although Bungie has not had any real gayness in Halo story canon, they have, however, made a few non-canon gay jokes. These are either tucked away in hard to get to areas of the games as Easter eggs or posted on the Internet. I will examine the jokes I can recall.

First, we have the bonus Legendary ending of Halo: Combat Evolved. If the player beats the game on Legendary difficulty, they are treated to a bonus cutscene. In this ending, we see Johnson and a Sangheili fighting some distance away from the Pillar of Autumn. When the ship starts to explode, they halt their fight and embrace. Just as the explosion happens, we see the Sangheili reach down and grab Johnson’s butt.

This is a very silly scene. The main humor is derived from these two mortal enemies spontaneously transforming into loving companions, ending the scene in a very different place from where it began. It is made further surreal by the fact that the Johnson character was implied to have died a few levels back, and that the Sangheili’s armor color pattern is never seen on a live character. Still, the characters are both male1 and I would imagine a fraction of the humor is based on that.

Second, we have a line of combat dialog audible in Halo 3 that suggests some of the Jiralhanae are gay. Generally when the player kills one of them, a live Jiralhanae may shout “He was my brother!” or something similar. However, when the IWHBYD skull is activated and funny/interesting lines enter combat dialog, Jiralhanae may instead shout “He was my lover!”

Now, I wrote a gay Jiralhanae character in my fanfiction Ascension, so when I first heard this line I was like “Yes! They’re canon!” But, no, I now realize that this isn’t the case. Lines heard while IWHBYD is on can be extremely weird, and simply can’t be accepted as canon. Are we to believe Unggoy go to Nipple Academy? No, of course not. So, Halo still has no gay characters really.

And third, I can think of Frankie’s Shaw and Fujikawa joke. Tobias Shaw and Wallace Fujikawa are known in Halo as pioneering Slipspace researchers who got their names on the UNSC Slipspace engines. In a 2006 interview with Halo writer Joseph Staten, he included a short fiction written by Frankie about the pair. It consists of Shaw and Fujikawa lounging on a beach when they’re old and ugly, and having a stupid little argument. The two are presumably supposed to be gay, with Shaw calling his partner “queer”, “poof”, and “queen”. As far as I can tell, the fiction is just supposed to be bizarre, making them gay to add to the weirdness.

And fourth, not quite homophobic but kinda transphobic, is a Bungie joke relayed in the old July 13, 2001 Bungie Update. Back then, the updates were written by Matt Soell and detailed the production of Halo: Combat Evolved. He describes the development of the Bumblebee pilot model, how they took the Marcus model and had artist Chris Hughes transform it into a female model, a process Matt Soell describes as “rather unnerving”. When Chris Hughes finally changed the face to match the body, he said that “hormone therapy for the post-op Marcus was successful”. Now, there’s no malice in that language, really, but it seems insensitive to use it when the company has not been outwardly LGBT-friendly. I don’t know; I could be splitting hairs here. It just catches my attention.

Now, I complain about Bungie’s attitude because I think they could be better. They are pretty cool overall, and I don’t want to leave that ignored. If you look at the general gaming community, you can see that homophobia really does run rampant (and not the fun Rampancy). In today’s rude society (as opposed to yesterday’s rude society), “gay” has become synonymous with “not cool”. Lots of kids just spout out about how something is “so gay”.

Imagine, if you will, that instead of “gay”, some other minority group was used. “That’s so Jew”, maybe, or “that’s so black”. Imagine hearing that over, and over, and over, everywhere and without a thought given to it. Kinda makes you angry, huh? Yeah. This comic illustrates my point, BTW (note: the clerk is gay). The word “gay” is even censored on, replaced with “-blam!-” when used on the forums. I get why they did that, but it’s still censoring the name of a minority group. Meh.

Remember the left-handedness analogy. I bet if someone polled the overall community about handedness, there would be a heck of a lot of people reporting their left-handedness. In the present day there is no real stigma attached to being left-handed. However, if I were to poll the community on sexual orientation, I imagine the number of out gay people to be very low – not because there are so few gay people, but because so few feel comfortable admitting so in the homophobic culture. Even the Joystiq post where I got the Fabulous Brutes image rationalizes the inclusion of the “he was my lover” line by saying it might be revealed that there are no female Brutes. Essentially saying it’s okay to have gay characters as long as they’re weird aliens, which was my earlier point about why having the only gay characters be aliens would be an issue in its own right.

Xbox Live has some problems of its own with extreme trash talking from players during games. It is generally unrestrained with no real moderators, and only players actively reporting other players to keep everyone in check. In some ways, this is an effective system that enables Xbox Live staff to quickly evaluate situations and ban violators without them actually having to witness it in person. However, this is the kind of system that can protect and enforce a culture based on the values of the majority by players mostly reporting the minority offenders while letting the majority offenders slide.

In late 2007, a video called Halo 3: Homophobia Evolved became popular. A player went on Xbox Live with the gamertag “xxxGayBoyxxx” and recorded the homophobic insults sent his way. Soon after, he was suspended from Xbox Live for having a gamertag that had content of a sexual nature.

I have to say that this is a silly manifestation of that rule because ‘gay’ does not really mean something that sexual. I mean, it is a ‘sexual orientation’, but here we are using the word in a very technical manner that does not explicitly reference sexual intercourse, which is what the fuss is about. When I have a crush on a girl with no sexual attraction involved, I would call that a manifestation of heterosexuality. I would call that crush ‘hetero’, and having a crush like that on a boy is ‘gay’. I would not call such crushes ‘sexual’ in the way that Xbox Live would consider offensive. Who are they to say what ‘GayBoy’ or ‘StraightBoy’ means?

Now, the word from Xbox Live staff is that they don’t discriminate. If there is someone with ‘StraightBoy’ as a gamertag, they’ll see it as something to ban as much as ‘GayBoy’, but what are the odds someone will report it? Gayness is often seen as deviant and somehow more vulgar than heterosexuality. I recall saying something about gayness in an abstract way on the Halopedia IRC and being told that it’s against the rules to discuss sexuality despite CommanderTony’s frequent openly lusting after Hayden Panettiere (not that I’m bitter, no siree). People go on Live all the time with real sexual innuendo in their names or just references to dating women, and ninety-five percent of them won’t be reported simply because the majority culture on Xbox Live won’t find that offensive. When something gay turns up, however, people pounce on it.

On a lighter note, there is a man named Richard Gaywood living in the U.K. This is his actual name. He decided to put his full name on his gamertag and subsequently found it banned for containing “sexual innuendo”. Seriously.

In response to the controversy over gamertags getting banned, Stephen Toulouse (Stepto) of Microsoft tweeted that he was going to look into some way for users to express their sexual orientation in their profile in some way that won’t be misused. That was in February, 2009, with no results so far. He is reportedly working with GLAAD (Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation) to improve policy to make it more LGBT-friendly.

In conclusion, I find these various elements of Halo to be homophobic in nature. They may not be very bad, all things considered, but they make the series come off as not very friendly to gay people in the absence of actual gay characters. I’m posting this article in an attempt to promote good relations between gay and straight Halo fans. There’s so much homophobia on the web, and I’d like Halopedia to be a place where that isn’t a problem.

1This is a plausible conclusion, anyway. Covenant soldiers were always depicted as male until Contact Harvest in 2007.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Halo Graphic Novel Review (Part 7)

The following article was written for Halopedia:

Greetings, Halopedians! I’m back with the final part of my series of articles reviewing the Halo Graphic Novel. If you’ve missed the other parts, you can find them here, here, here, here, here, and here. The stories have ended, and so has the collection of gallery art. Now I will be covering the series of notes Bungie put in the back of the book in a section called Bungie’s Bullshit Bluster. Think they’ve got a thing for alliteration?

BBB starts off with a short comic strip called Shore Leave: Master Chief on Holiday, by Paul Russel. This one is way too short to be put with the stories, consisting of only six panels less than an inch tall. The storyline is far from serious and is instead more like a comic strip in a newspaper. Master Chief is first seen wearing a robe and holding a cup of coffee, while still wearing his helmet of course. His day starts off bad when a thrown newspaper thwacks him in the head. He is then seen in full MJOLNIR armor driving a civilian Hog, but stuck in traffic. At the grocery store, he accidentally crushes a cantaloupe by squeezing too hard. As he tries to leave the store, his purchases fall out of the bottom of the bag and spill across the ground. Then an old woman yells at him because he parked the Hog with one wheel on her car. Finally, we see a dorky-looking Johnson calling to say, “So, Buckethead, ya ready to go to work?” The Chief says, “Yeah.” It’s cute.

Below Shore Leave, there’s a picture of an Etch A Sketch. On the Etch A Sketch is a drawing of the Master Chief looking down at a small hologram of Cortana. Master Chief is shown with his hand stretched out, and Cortana has her head in her hands. Above them are strange but detailed protrusions I’m not sure about. Parts of an activated Control Room, maybe? The thing was made by Marty O’Donnell, and it’s pretty nifty-looking. I have some doubts about its authenticity as an Etch A Sketch drawing, though, as I don’t think it lets you make lines not connected to anything as are parts of Cortana. Nice drawing, though.

And just to keep you from thinking Bungie’s Bullshit Bluster isn’t good evidence of their affection toward alliterations, they included the header, “A Cataclysmic Clamoring of Cromulent Content for Cool Cats and Comic Connoisseurs!” Yeah, that’s Bungie humor, alright. Eat your heart out, Jeff Lindsay.

The main part of the page is a message from “Captain Montague Meriwether Bungie”. It describes how comic were originally thought of as something only for kids until Stan Lee and other visionaries changed that image by making graphic novels more mainstream. There’s a bit about pop artist Roy Lichtenstein drawing his inspiration from comic books. The message concludes with Bungie giving their thanks and appreciation to the people who advanced graphic novels and to those who worked on the HGN. To the side of the message is the popped Flood from Geoff Darrow’s piece.

The rest of the page is made up of little tidbits offering information about parts of the HGN. The first describes how Lorraine McLees came up with the idea to do the HGN and used her contacts to get it made; the second describes how Marty O’Donnell got his first Etch A Sketch; the third notes that the HGN is not Bungie’s first graphic novel and is instead their sixth, the others being for their games Myth and Oni; the fourth says that Geoff Darrow was one of the concept designers for The Matrix; the fifth describes how well known and respected is Jean “Moebius” Giraud, who made the surreal Second Sunrise Over New Mombasa story, and that he is easily the oldest artist to work on the HGN; and the fifth describes how Simon Bisley, the artist of Last Voyage of the Infinite Succor, got his start as a graphic novel artist.

After the tidbits is a collection of letters made by fans. Bungie notes that they collected the letters through trickery and that the fans didn’t know what the letters were for other than the general idea of giving input about the possibility of a Halo graphic novel. The first letter, by Usul, suggests three things: that Halo in comic book form has many selling points, but that Master Chief should not be drawn without his helmet; exploring the Covenant with storylines such as the original Prophet-Elite war, the conquering of other species, or any number of possibilities; exploring UNSC politics with suggested storylines as UNSC having to battle Covenant without the Chief, or following an AI serving ONI. Bungie responds to the letter saying that number three is obviously in the HGN and that they seriously considered an AI storyline. “And lord knows our artists enjoy drawing pseudo-naked female holograms.”

The second letter, by Roger Wilco, says that a polished in-depth graphic novel would be good, especially one that focuses on characters other than the Master Chief, such as soldiers on both sides, scientists, civilians, and their roles in the conflict. He goes on to suggest that the HGN should have artists Geoff Darrow, Shirow, Katsuhiro Otomo, Simon Bisley, and Craig Mullins. Bungie responds asking if Roger has been hiding in their soda machine for the past year.

The third letter, by Unperson, suggests that Sergeant Johnson would make a good subject for a Halo graphic novel story, specifically one that describes how he made it off Halo. The author then says that it shouldn’t look like manga because manga characters don’t usually look very dark or intimidating, and Johnson should. Bungie responds to say that Nihei did his best to make Breaking Quarantine not look too manga-ish.

The fourth letter, by Mintz, suggests a mix of Spartan action and 2552 politics. Bungie responds with a “Cough – Moebius – cough!”

The fifth letter, by Miguel Chavez, points out that the art of a graphical novel can surpass that of a film. No actors need to be hired to be the face behind the helmet, the required budget is significantly less because of no need for special effects and such, and the storyline can be preserved to a greater degree. All that is needed is the right person who can write a good storyline and plot the pages. Bungie responds that they agree and that was the process in a nutshell.

Finally, the sixth letter, by Dennis, describes how Bungie created such a rich universe for Halo. As a person who grew up with comics, Dennis says that he can easily see the Halo franchise entering the graphic novel market. Bungie replies, “Hope you enjoyed it, Dennis. We certainly did.”

Below the letters are images of two of Bungie’s previous graphic novels alongside a sketch. The first cover is of Oni issue #0 and depicts player character Konoko falling backwards while firing a gun. The second cover is of Tales from Myth: The Fallen Lords and depicts a large ogre kind of creature (I don’t know Myth) reaching for a little gnome guy. Beside the covers is a sketch of a UNSC locker room. One of the Marines has a pinup of Cortana on his door. The Master Chief comes at him angrily while other Marines try to hold him back. The Marine with the pinup looks defensive and says, “What’s your problem, man??!!” A humorous take on Cortana’s being seen as a sex symbol.

And that’s the end.

The end.

The end.

While not perfect, the Halo Graphic Novel is an enjoyable read with a lot of cool content. My main complaint is the art. Last Voyage has busy fight scenes that are hard to understand, Armor Testing ripped part of the art from Halo 2, and Second Sunrise is… well… Rabbit! To be more specific, the artist tries too hard to be creative and what results is something only barely recognizable as Halo. The one story I’m really satisfied with is Breaking Quarantine, which is just a cool action scene with intense “masculine” art that is easy to follow and to get into. The gallery art contains many interesting pieces, and I like seeing all the different takes on Halo. Finally, Bungie concludes with their Bullshit Bluster, which adds interesting tidbits about the development of the HGN as well as some extra art snuck in. All in all, the HGN is a good-quality book.

"The Halo Graphic Novel is a masterful tribute to the art form of the comic book and a stunning collectible in its own right."

—Marvel, on the dust jacket blurb

Halo Graphic Novel Review (Part 6)

The following article was written for Halopedia:

La, la, la, di… da, da, da, dum… Oh, hello! Wonderful news: my series of articles reviewing the Halo Graphic Novel is almost complete.



Yes… Isn’t it? If you have missed the previous articles in this series, you can access them here, here, here, here, and here. No promises, but initial estimates indicate that this series will be coming to a conclusion in just a few more days. As for today, I will be covering the remaining selection of gallery art. That will leave only “Bungie’s Bullshit Bluster”, which can be covered in a seventh article. Ah, I am a genius. Hee, hee, hee!

Anyway, the twelfth artwork in the gallery is by Sterling Hundley. It depicts the Master Chief wading through water in which float Flood corpses, along with many expended shotgun shells. There is a definite dark and gloomy feel to this piece. While its style is a bit too soft for my tastes, I can easily see this as a scene during the level Keyes from Halo: Combat Evolved.

The thirteenth artwork, by George Pratt, depicts the Master Chief wielding a Covenant particle beam rifle. He stands on a rocky ledge with his back up against a rock wall, and may have just come through a deep crevice that splits the rock. Three plasma grenades lie at his feet, hinting of a Kig-yar opponent recently dispatched. The artwork contains a heavy amount of the color blue and has visible brush strokes. It is not to my preference, but it isn’t too bad either.

The fourteenth artwork, by Juan Ramirez, is another example of what I see as the traditional American graphic novel artistic style (the first being Geoff Darrow’s piece). It is an involved piece, depicting three Marines badly attempting to fight an attacking Jiralhanae and an Unggoy. One Marine is bumped by the Unggoy just as he fires his battle rifle at the Jiralhanae and misses his arm, cocked back to deliver a powerful blow of the grenade launcher bayonet. The Jiralhanae is roaring aggressively and with his bare hand he has swiped aside a second Marine, and appears to be preparing to hack apart a third Marine, who looks toward the viewer with his mouth open in shock. Even the Unggoy looks sinister. I think this is a high-quality work and serves to illustrate how helpless humans really are against the alien foes. (The weird part of my brain notes that the third Marine, with his worn face and stream of blood trickling out of his nose, looks like a perverted old man from an anime. Perhaps the look of shock is because he just witnessed Naruto’s sexy no jutsu…)

The fifteenth artwork, by Rick Berry, depicts a Sangheili near some kind of technology at the edge of a construction hanging over a hazy atmosphere. The main issue with this work is that it’s too dark for me to really understand what I’m looking at. Is he sitting on a Ghost? Is that supposed to be in Threshold? I don’t know! The artist uses a semi-abstract style with visible brush strokes that convey the vague idea, but it’s all just too dark for me to make sense of it. Heavily brightening it in Photoshop does little to reveal the image except to confirm that part of the image is the Sangheili’s outstretched hand and not part of the building. Suffice it to say this is not my favorite image.

The sixteenth artwork is by Frankie O’Connor and depicts his favorite subject: the Mister Chief. While Mister Chief images tend to be made specifically with as little work put into them as possible, this one at least seems like it took a bit of effort. It is made in parody of the famous M. C. Escher painting Hand with Globe. Although it is not exactly an interpretation of Halo, it is a bonus to the Halo community. Still not really my favorite, though. I would prefer it if the space was used for something more relevant to the Halo story.

The seventeenth artwork, by Frank Capezutto, is a fantastic work depicting three Marines engaged in battle with off-frame Covenant. The setting is in a human industrial facility, which is brightly lit with what looks like sunlight. In the foreground are two Marines narrowly dodging a thrown plasma grenade. The one nearest the viewer is shown with his mouth open partway through a scream. The facial features are incredibly detailed, and I could see this as a serious depiction of war in our real world was there no plasma visible. It’s also nice to see a female Marine just as a Marine who is female. Then, of course, there’s the helmet identifying the closest Marine as an L. Jenkins, which evokes the Internet viral video starring Leeroy Jenkins. With his mouth open in a scream, one can easily imagine him screaming his name as does his namesake. This is a fun in-joke included in an already impressive artwork, and this is one of my favorites in the collection.

The eighteenth artwork, by Robert McLees (husband of previously mentioned Lorraine McLees), is one of the most intriguing images in the collection. Page 122 depicts various items that seem to be spread out on someone’s table. In the background is a map marked with what would seem from context to be information for a UNSC assassination mission. Sitting on the map is a chat transcript that looks like the result of two ONI spooks hanging out in IRC and contains both serious discussion and plain silliness (who knew there were RPGs with Elf Wizards in 2552?). Also present is a record of command lines (I thought those were obsolete?). Then we have photographs showing a UNSC assassination mission with satellite images of a black Marine firing a sniper rifle and a guy exploding in a cloud of blood. Further items would suggest that it was a rebel leader who was killed.

The overall collection of items seems to imply that Sergeant Johnson is a Spartan-I who assassinated the rebel, and that the information revealed in Halo: First Strike about how he supposedly was released by the Flood was a hoax to cover up the fact that he used his Spartan abilities to escape them. Not only is this a fascinating insight into Johnson’s past, it preserves the canonicity of both the events in Halo: First Strike and the Breaking Quarantine retcon. John’s character development in which he chooses not to sign Johnson’s death warrant for a remote chance of the UNSC learning something useful about the Flood remains canon in the Halo universe. Also interesting is a mention of Herzog and Standish, characters from the previously non-canon I Love Bees. As an ILB fan, I was delighted to see it be embraced as canon, at least a little bit.

The nineteenth artwork is credited to Sheik Wang. A side note here: I recognized that as Bungie artist Shi Kai Wang. I thought Sheik was just his username, not his pseudonym. Anyway, his artwork depicts the Prophet of Truth on his throne, holding his head in one hand, the other loosely holding his crown. What’s interesting about this image is that it is entirely in black and white, no grey, not even the newspaper illusion of grey. The artist employs black to function as shadow, giving the work a very stark and grim look. Truth, we can tell, is in some great distress. Whatever caused it is unknown and only this small glimpse of the Prophet and his pain is revealed to us. A brilliant work, I’d say.

The twentieth artwork, by Eddie Smith, depicts a battle-rifle-wielding Master Chief about to pass under a small archway and into a debris-strewn interior. The work places the viewer inside with a view of the Chief about to come in. The sunlight glaringly illuminates part of the Chief and his pathway, the Spartan’s body creating streams of shadow into the interior. I can imagine him in Old Mombasa. The work is very realistic, yet is still obviously a painting with its brush strokes visible. While I can appreciate it as a work that had a lot of effort put into it, its colors are a little too dull for my tastes.

The twenty-first artwork, by Chris Barrett (after whom Tterrab Industries was named), is a much more imaginative (read: strange) piece than the others. It depicts a blue Sangheili among Covenant or Forerunner architecture and loosely holding a plasma rifle. It is intentionally very flat, with really no depth at all. I believe the artist was going for the look of something drawn on stone like a painting of ancient Greece. The architecture is drawn lightly on the background, and interestingly enough includes the cobra from the red team’s flag in multiplayer. This is creative, but not really to my tastes.

Finally, we have the twenty-second and last artwork, by Craig Mullins. This is another very realistic piece that is still obviously a painting. It depicts the Master Chief with his battle rifle held down. It is set in an area with tropical-looking trees with fronds, the Chief himself standing on dirt with fronds visible behind his head. The Chief looks very gritty and battle-worn, and the colors are predominantly pink and orange as if in early morning. This is a well-done piece, but it’s not something I’d choose to look at for an extended period of time.

Well, Halopedians, that’s it for now. See you next time for the last installment of this review, same Halo time… You know the drill.

"WTF!?! Lolz!!!!one! Wise in the ways of MAGICK?!?! Sorcerer Kings?2?!?!! Roflmao!!!!!!eleven!!"

Echo23023, of page 122