Halo is again and again described as a “multimedia experience.” If you don’t know what that means, then you probably don’t care, and there’s no problem in that. It won’t hamper your enjoyment of Halo: Uprising, assuming this violent sci-fi/alien-invasion series is your cup of tea in the first place.
Suffice to say, Halo is a first-person shooter video game (a longer description would be more appropriate for the phenomenon, but again: If you were really interested in it, you’d probably already know about it). Halo: Uprising serves as a bridge between Halo 2 and Halo 3. As such, there’s definitely a feeling of joining a movie in medias res here, and there’s little in the way to bring you completely up to speed. Not that you really need it. The story is simple enough to follow along and enjoy: Aliens are attacking Earth, and humans are the good guys.
That’s about all you need to understand, although perhaps knowing more would help you glom on to the series’ opening. In it, a human astronaut has been captured in Mars orbit (this is an unspecified future date), and, before the aliens are about to kill him, he reveals one thing they must find if their invasion is to succeed: a key hidden in Cincinnati.
Meanwhile, back in Cincinatti, that astronaut’s brother, unaware of anything that has transpired, is working as a hotel concierge. One of the guests in his hotel is a celebrity singer, a bold, brash woman who saves his life when the aliens attack. As the city is strafed with alien fire, the pair make their way to presumed safety, eventually realizing that they hold the “key” the aliens are searching for.
Brian Michael Bendis has shown over and over again that he is a terrific writer. But here, paired once again with the simply wonderful artist Alex Maleev (the two previously worked together on a classic Daredevil run), he wisely turns over several pages entirely to Maleev. Maleev takes the ball and runs with it. His artwork is stunning, capturing the cold void of space, the elegance of alien machinery, and the bleakness of futuristic American cities blitzed by warfare. He gives all of them a special flourish.
On its own, Halo: Uprising is an intriguing yet ultimately unfinished read. It’s a bridge, after all, and the ending comes just as the reader is finally getting to see the main characters fleshed out and forming real attachments to them. The next installment in the story will be eagerly anticipated.
Reviewed by John Hogan on October 18, 2011