Sunday, August 9, 2009

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

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