Halo: Collateral Damage is a three-issue comic book mini-series set in the Halo universe. It is written by Alex Irvine and illustrated by Dave Crosland, and also serves as the first entry in the A Master Chief Story sub-series.
In the first year of the Human-Covenant War, a young Blue Team is sent to the besieged world of Alpha Corvi II, where they are to relieve the UNSC's ground forces while also earning combat experience and the opportunity to test some of the Mjolnir armor's experimental features. Upon arrival, the Spartans are directed to Black Reef, a seemingly unimportant mining settlement that the Covenant nonetheless dedicated a portion of their invasion force to attacking. Blue Team are tasked with discovering what motivated the Covenant's assault on the town, with the added complication that Black Reef is under the jurisdiction of an Insurrectionist group aligned with the United Rebel Front. An uneasy alliance between Blue Team and the group they were originally created to fight is formed, as they plan to fend off the alien invasion and discover the secret underneath Black Reef.
- Black-and-Gray Morality: This story undoubtedly features one of the most villainous depictions of the UNSC that the series has ever had. Represented by Commander Yao, who explicitly refuses to evacuate non-UNSC personnel for arbitrary reasons, the story focuses on the idea that the UNSC are paradoxically willing to sacrifice their own humanity to ensure humanity's survival. The only thing that stops them from being outright evil is that they are fighting the Covenant, who are depicted in full Generic Doomsday Villain mode here.
- Bookends: The book begins with Samuel-034's funeral and a speech by Dr. Halsey about the human necessity to grieve the fallen, while the ending features Whitaker's senseless and forgotten death.
- Downer Ending: Alpha Corvi II falls to the Covenant, Whitaker and his men are left to die by an uncaring UNSC officer, and Blue Team return empty-handed, having never discovered why the Covenant were interested in Black Reef.
- Internal Deconstruction: This story picks apart two staple tropes of the Halo canon: It's love for using Lost Technology to drive the conflict, and the UNSC's largely positive role as humanity's defender. For the former, it turns out that not every Forerunner ruin is going to be some kind of lost superweapon or provide a deep look into their history; sometimes it just really isn't that important. For the latter, the story discusses how easily the UNSC can become He Who Fights Monsters, and brings up the question of whether they can really be called "humanity's protector" if they are willing to sacrifice so much for it.
- Meta Twist: The irrelevance of the Forerunner artifact under Black Reef is this, given how often the series has had stories revolving around Forerunner artifacts that the UNSC and Covenant are racing to secure.
- Senseless Sacrifice: Whitaker's Insurrectionists are left to fend for themselves as the UNSC evacuate, after he and his men willingly put aside their differences to fight the bigger threat.
- Super Prototype: Blue Team are equipped with an experimental version of the Mjolnir armor fitted with active camouflage, which is absent from the standard version of Mjolnir.
- Title Drop: Courtesy of Dr. Halsey, making it clear that the title refers to Whitaker's insurrectionists.You brought your team back safe. Thats what matters. There will always be some collateral damage.
- The Un-Reveal: Why did the Covenant attack Black Reef? Aside from being something Forerunner-related, we never find out, and the Kindler that could've told us gets unceremoniously destroyed.
- We ARE Struggling Together: Whitaker's Insurrectionists and the UNSC are forced to accept an uneasy truce in order to fight the Covenant. The UNSC ultimately doesn't see the Insurrectionists as anything more than exploitable canon fodder.