Just two weeks shy of the one year anniversary of its first issue's debut, the third issue of "Halo: Uprising" arrived on store shelves. This strange coincidence doesn't really have much to do with the quality of the issue, but when you're met face to face with an issue of a series that you'd be forgiven for nearly forgetting existed, it does give one pause. Especially since it's hard to find within the confines of this particular issue exactly why it's almost three full calendar seasons late. Bendis has certainly been writing books. Maleev has certainly been putting out work. I'm sure we'll never know what weapon design snafu or armor misplacement led to such a long delay, but in the long run, decades from now, when "Halo: Uprising" is collected, it won't matter much.
Because "Halo: Uprising" has turned out to be a pretty great damn comic.
In theory, the series is meant to bridge the gap between Halo 2 and 3. But at this point, even having played both games, I can barely remember what that story is supposed to be. Luckily it really doesn't matter, because Bendis has managed to tell a really captivating and human story that simply uses the Halo universe as a riveting and extravagant backdrop.
After the first two issues I had feared it would be the other way around. As of right now, it still is a very polarized book. In one half, Master Chief does totally awesome and violent things to his Covenant opponents. In the other, hapless human Ruwan is trying to survive an attack on Earth. At first, I figured it'd be just what there was a lot of: (admittedly very cool) moments of a regular Joe driving a Warthog through the Cincinatti (Did I get that right? It's been so long.) of the future. What I didn't expect was for Bendis to reveal such a clever and personal conceit as the ultimate driving force of the book.
I'm loathe to spoil it, but all of a sudden, "Halo: Uprising" is just as gripping as any great summer blockbuster -- the kind where there's big widescreen stuff to gawp at, but you still find yourself actually caring about the scrappy and overwhelmed protagonist. So, well done there.
On the flip side, as much as it seems so detached from the story on the ground, Bendis and Maleev certainly deliver some eye-poppingly great Master Chief action. Maleev has never really gotten enough of credit as an action artist, and maybe leaping and those weird Daredevil-nunchuk-thing-based acrobatics might not be his strongest suit (although he is quite good at that), but big dudes tearing into bigger aliens suits him to a tee. Halo fans will have plenty to marvel at in this book when it comes to action that a mere Xenon next gen processor could never handle.
I'm sure the two stories will dovetail nicely in the finale of the series and, as a whole, "Halo: Uprising" will stand as a really stellar work of fiction in the Halo Universe. But please, guys. Bungie and Marvel alike. Don't make me wait so long next time, okay?