While my favorite thing to talk about is my personal experiences with the Halo franchise and the impact it’s made on my life, I thought it would be interesting to tackle a few different pieces of Halo media that may be less than popular or downright neglected. My first entry into this blog series I’ve aptly titled “Forgotten Materials” is going to be about the Marvel four issue comic series Halo Uprising. This comic takes places immediately after Master Chief says “Sir, finishing this fight” at the end of Halo 2’s infamous cliffhanger ending and connects the story to Halo 3’s opening. You’d think this premise would make for a really exciting story; I mean after all Halo: First Strike was a fantastic exploration into the events that transpired between the first two games. Unfortunately this is not the case for Halo Uprising.
It’s probably going to be an uphill battle from here to convince anyone who hasn’t yet read Uprising to turn the page when I’ve opened this article by saying the events involved aren’t really that intriguing but wait a moment! Stay a while and listen! Truth of the matter is, Halo Uprising mainly uses the guise of Master Chief’s journey from the Forerunner Dreadnaught to the ground at the opening of Halo 3 to sell us on a comic that’s about something different entirely. Most of this comic series follows two characters, Ruwan and Myras Tyla. This is where you will decide for yourself if this is a piece of Halo fiction you want to dive into or not. I am here to make the argument that you should, for several reasons. First off, it will only take you roughly ten to twenty minutes to read all four comics. The best way to do so would be to read the edition that has all four published together in one hardback book as seen in the picture above. It’s relatively cheap and the illustrations themselves are fantastically done. Above all, I think this comic does a wonderful job of fleshing out what the lives of those normal people who had to deal with a widespread Covenant invasion look like. It adds another layer of realism and believability to the world of Halo and adds a great contrast against a character like Master Chief.
The story opens to a UNSC Colonel named James Ackerson being tortured by brutes aboard a covenant ship. If that name sounds familiar to any of you it’s because the character was featured in several other Halo novels and is notable for proposing the SPARTAN-III program. Amid his torture, close to the end of his life he tells his captors that they will never succeed if they do not find the “Key of Osanalan”, further stating that if they do not find the key the Halo array will malfunction like they did before. James is further tortured upon bringing this information into play and only reveals that the key is located in Cleveland, Ohio before passing out due to the trauma inflicted. This is where we meet the two main characters we will be following for the majority of this short, but sweet comic.
Ruwan is a Hotel concierge that is hiding from nearby Covenant forces when he meets a performer staying at the establishment by the name of Myras Tyla. They have a rather short conversation that serves to set up a potential romantic interest before being captured. It’s soon clear the reason they weren’t killed like many citizens on earth had been before. The brutes are looking for the said “Key of Osanalan” that James Ackerson spoke of earlier. Before Ruwan has a chance to speak, ODST’s start dropping in everywhere around him and Myras, leaving them a chance to escape. Once safe, Ruwan reveals to Myras that he knows exactly what the brutes are looking for. This is probably my favorite part of the entire comic because it reveals something you’d never see coming. Ruwan reveals that the Key is a fake object that him and his brother, Colonel James Ackerson made up when they were children, role playing as wizards because they were such huge fans of TOLKIEN. YEAH, you heard that right. Tolkien exists in the Halo universe. Halo Uprising is canon and Tolkien is referenced in the year 2552. I’m not sure what surprises me more, that Halo referenced Tolkien or that Tolkien is still just as relevant five hundred years from now. I mean, I guess it must be the former because is there really a universe out there as compelling and well done as The Lord of the Rings? I think not! But anyways, back on topic. As we now know the Key of Osanalan is completely fake. It was merely a tool used by Ruwan’s brother to confuse the brutes and keep them from attacking the city his brother lives in. Quite an interesting idea for a story in the Halo universe if you ask me, but one I appreciate as it shows ways in which normal people can be heroic without blowing something up. Though that’s terribly short lived as the story concludes with Ruwan figuring out the reason his brother told the brutes about the key which leads him to offer himself to the Covenant as a tracking beacon for the UNSC so they can blow the enemies ship out of the sky.
There are other details as well as some nice little character development nuggets along the way but that’s essentially the majority of what happens in Halo Uprising. I appreciate what the story did to take a relatively important expanded fiction character like James Ackerson, attach a very human story about two brothers who grew up fantasizing about the dreamy landscapes of Middle-earth and gave them a very human but notable send off. Ruwan and James dreamt of what it would be like to possess the magical prowess of Tolkien’s Wizards in a land ruled by Dark Lords and Orcs unbeknownst to the fact they were about to grow into a very real, threating world of their own. It’s the kind of story that has the ability to give you those warm fuzzies we all love while managing to fit the universe in which it’s told, remarkably well. Add Uprising to the growing but short list of stories that characterize what the everyday man is doing in the background of Chief’s galaxy traversing escapades. Oh speaking of that, I’m sure you’re all wondering what Master Chief was doing. I mean, the comic has him on the front cover and it was marketed as what he was doing between the events of Halo 2 and 3 so there has to be something important he’s doing…right? Well…I guess?
During the events of Ruwan’s story we get Master Chief’s point of view peppered in and out from time to time. No doubt there to make sure people buy the next issue. We mostly see Chief fighting hordes of Covenant on the Dreadnaught repeatedly until he’s within range of killing the Prophet of Truth. He’s not able to make the shot and is instead stuck taking down an endless wave of brutes, grunts and other Covenant ilk until he is informed by Lord Hood that there is going to be a MAC round fired at a nearby Covenant ship, a ship he will be in the blast radius of if he doesn’t get off the Dreadnaught soon. The ship that’s being targeted is in fact the one that Ruwan is on as he lies to his enemies about the Key and the UNSC uses his location as a target to fire the MAC round. The Master Chief does what you might expect, he jumps from the Forerunner ship and begins his decent to earth. This is the shot that Halo 3 opens to as Cortana narrates about John’s one trait none of the other Spartan’s had. Luck.
So that about sums it up for the events of Halo Uprising. Like I said previously I definitely glossed over some of the details and smaller character moments but this article was meant to serve the purpose of both selling you on the idea of reading the comic for yourself as well as giving you a debriefing in case you just wanted to know the plot points without investing your time. I definitely wouldn’t say Uprising is essential for the average or even hardcore Halo fan as the events covered don’t add up to much but if you’re like me you’ll be fascinated to see a glimpse into what transpired in that little window of time we never got to see upon finishing Halo 2. I can only imagine how cool the final level of Halo 2 might have been playing as the Chief fighting his way through the interior of the massive Forerunner Dreadnought attempting to take the Prophet of Truth’s life. What a ride that would be. Though if we’d done that, we wouldn’t have Uprising, and who knows…we may not even have Halo 3. I could totally see an overworked and tired Bungie crew opting for ending the saga right there if the development time had allowed for it. We spend so much time thinking about what we could have had and not enough time cherishing the things we did. I love Halo, and I’m willing to bet you do to. For that reason, I suggest you take a look at this particular forgotten material, Halo Uprising.