Halo Escalation #6 Discussion SPOILERS

Okay, after having read Halo Escalation #6, I have to say I’m a bit underwhelmed.
SPOILERS AHEAD. If you plan on reading the comics, do not read further as this article will spoil the story for you…

Halo Escaltion 6

So the cover really has nothing to do with the story inside. It is however part of a two-part cover, in which issue 7 will complete the picture.

In this issue (#6), Admiral Hood is lamenting on his career and hoping he can make things right. At first it looks like he’s going to die, but ultimately is just wounded. Honestly, I think it would have made for a better story if a character dies. Hood, while important to the overall Halo story line is NOT that important that he can’t be killed off.

The Infinity has been hit by THREE shots from a glassing cannon. It’s dead in space at the moment. Commander Bradley of the Infinity is dead. Enter the Spartans.

Sarah Palmer leads Fireteam Majestic into battle with Booster Frames to board the Rebel station. The glassing cannon has overheated so the rebel station and more importantly it’s leader Daniel Clayton , son of Captain James Cutter of the UNSC Spirit of Fire, have to wait until it’s cooled down enough to fire upon Infinity again.

Clayton orders his Sangheili mercenary force to take out the Spartans. That force’s leader, ‘Gajat, complies temporarily, but not before questioning why Clayton doesn’t just finish off the Infinity. ‘Gajat goes to his crew and instead of ordering them to attack the Spartans, he orders them to bring their ship to arms against the Infinity.

Now at this point, I already know what’s going to happen. I’m a little disappointed that I was right too. It’s a logical outcome, but I wouldn’t mind a little flare here. More on this in a moment.

After Palmer and Majestic avoid incoming missiles from the station, they board it and take it over. Just in time as the glassing cannon was just about to come online again. Clayton is knocked out by Madsen and taken prisoner.

In the meantime, ‘Gajat does as many villains do in classic stories, he is about to tell the station what his real plans are…When will villains learn, just go with your plan, then talk later. James Bond films are abounding in this respect. Anyway, as he has his ship radio the station, Palmer cuts in on the transmission, knowing what ‘Gajat has planned and tells him they are going to burn. Upon which, the station blasts the Covenant ship with the glassing cannon, destroying it.

Now here is where I’m crying foul. The Infinity is LOADED with guns. Even if they can’t fire their main laser, it has dozens of turrets mounted on it’s hull on all sides. You’d think those would be blasting away at the station, in defense. The only thing I can see why not is that Hood may have ordered them not too, in order to try to take the station and it’s people, instead of blasting it to smithereens. Hoping to get some valuable information instead.

Captain Lasky returns from his fact finding mission, empty handed. He and Palmer briefly talk then break for some alcohol. Meantime, a wounded Admiral Hood in a wheelchair (where are the hovering chairs? Thought we’d have that 500 years in the future…) pays a visit to the now prisoner Clayton. He tries to press Clayton for information on Admiral Drake, of the New Colonial Alliance. Clayton does not submit, rather stating that his (Hood’s) empire will fall.

We’re now at page 21. We see a nebula in the background with a ship moving left to right. Move to page 22 a two page spread. It’s the Spirit of Fire! But it’s still a derelict ship…then…

On the last page we see a frightening detail. It seems the crew had to abandon ship. Why? Well there are a couple of Flood carrier forms within the panels. UH-OH!

Now THAT is a very interesting plot twist at the end. Where is the Spirit of Fire headed, as clearly we see a planet in the distance. Where is it’s crew now? How did the Flood come to board the Spirit of Fire? All very interesting questions. With the title of the next issue being “New Phoenix” I think those questions may not yet be answered.

Okay, so the story all the way up to page 21 is predictable. It does continue to establish that Spartans, even Spartan IV’s, are badasses, and get the job done. Beyond that though, nothing really much is answered from previous issues. I find that bothersome. I’m going to keep coming back and reading it of course, but I’d like at least a couple of questions answered. I don’t like to be strung along. That is precisely the feeling I’m getting now with the story. They do not need to wrap up each thing in each subsequent issue, just give us a tease of an answer.

The final few pages do help somewhat in that. We know a scant bit more than we did before about the fate of the Spirit of Fire. Those details, especially the presence of the Flood on her raise yet more questions.

The art itself within very well done. I’d have to say, I think it’s the best so far of all six released issues in the series. It looks like the artists are becoming better acquainted with Spartan armor, which is a very good thing. The lighting and shading on the faces, especially that of the glow from computer screens is handled nicely.

I do recommend getting this issue. If not so much for the story, then for the art, especially that of the Spirit of Fire!


Halo Concept Art: Halo 4 Environments; Part 4 of 5 Forerunner locations

Forerunner architecture is grand. Though some would say unnecessary. Since this is for a game and not in real life, I say, why not go with grandeur!

Let’s look at several Forerunner concept environments from Halo 4.

The beam generator above has an almost skeletal carcass like feel to it.halo_4_bottomspire_03_by_john_liberto
One of many Sky Spire concepts for Halo 4. This one reflects the campaign mission that we use the Pelican in. I wish we would have more piloting in Halo. I enjoy flying about!halo_4_bridge_01_by_josh_kao
Here is a concept of the bridge we cross in the campaign. Once again, no real sense of why it has the upward spires. But then, Forerunner architecture is a bit perplexing. I like how we go from shadow in the foreground to light in the background. More often than not, that’s switched.halo_4_bridge_02_by_josh_kao
Another concept of the bridge. This showing the multiple levels of it. Note the cyan light. It’s hard to take your eye away from it when viewing this concept, huh? It’s great use of color and contrast that focuses your eye where the artist wants you to look.halo_4_concept_art_by_nicolas_bouvier_05
Above we see a MUCH grander scale of the sky spires. This concept conveys, “immensity”. The blue hues as well as the snow on the mountains really make this feel cold and uninviting.halo_4_forerunner_hallway_by_josh_kao
A Forerunner hallway. I hope we do get a prequel game where we can see Forerunners in action, using these hallways. They are tall, but not THAT tall.halo_4_gen_by_a.j._trahan
This concept is a little confusing as to it’s location. It could be Meltdown. It’s definitely not Requiem as there are two other planets/moons in the distance.halo_4_gen2_by_a.j._trahan
Another concept of the same structure. The red really commands your attention.Is that machine “glassing” that area? Hmmm….halo_4_gravitywellconcept
The above piece might be familiar to you. If I’m not mistaken, it was in the Art of Halo book. This represents the generator that we target for the Infinity to blow up. I like the dark colors of this as it makes the beam of light that much more noticeable. In the campaign, this is at daytime. I think that took away from what could have been a much more epic explosion.
Chief in the air as he is grav lifted to the Didact. Now this is more epic, IMO. Here is Chief, alone, trusting in the grav lift to get him to the Didact. He’s the only one that can stop the Didact from further human composition. The Earth in the background makes a powerful statement. It shows it’s vulnerability.halo_4_john_skydome001_by_john_liberto
Yet another of the sky spire concepts. Heh, I think someone just REALLY liked those things. halo_4_jwl_m60_cave_02_by_john_liberto
This is likely either an early concept for Erosion or Warrens (the Spartan Ops map). halo_4_jwl_pylon_underside_01_by_john_liberto
Here is one of the pylons that you have to shut down within Requiem’s core. With no figure shown with it, it’s hard to get a sense of scale. Except…the clouds in the foreground. The pylon just reeks of power!
Above is one of the stations you arrive at to shut down the pylons. I don’t know what it is about these that I seem to like the dark tones. Perhaps it makes me feel like Chief is really fighting against something dark and foreboding.
The above is an illustration showing a Forerunner location that seems to have been created before the area around it. This reminds me much of “Sniper Alley” from Spartan Ops. I always have fun playing that mission. Have you played through Spartan Ops? If not, take some time to do so. It’s a whole other campaign. Yes, a bit different from a normal Campaign. Still, it entertained me for many hours and continues to do so.
Here is a concept for the multiplayer maps ‘Monolith’. This memorial stays true to the design and scale of Forerunner architecture.halo_4_oceanview01_by_a.j._trahan
This breathtaking view isn’t specifically in the game as is. However, elements of it were likely used for parts of the campaign as well as the multiplayer map, ‘Complex’. I really appreciate the detail in this piece. This is another concept I wish I could get a print of. It would make a fine poster.halo_4_outpost_by_nicolas_bouvier
Strangely enough this looks more like Reach multiplayer map, ‘Tempest’. Perhaps that’s the reason it wasn’t used?
That’s no moon! (and it’s not really a space station either…) A pinprick of light escapes Requiem as a portal opens to accept the uninvited visitors.halo_4_requiem_sky_leviathan_by_paul_richards
The sky leviathan was to be an ambient life-form in Halo 4. Sadly, it was cut. I really hope that in the next game, we get alien animal lifeforms.  It doesn’t have to be a lot. Heck, Reach had the Moa and Guta. That was enough for me. Just something more to bring realism/life into a world.halo_4_scifair_02_by_john_liberto
I wonder what purpose is served by this Forerunner structure? The sides remind me of a ribcage. Curious? Would that make this the heart of Requiem?
The above concept is CLASSIC ‘Sparth’. Nicolas ‘Sparth’ Bouvier was one of the concept artists for Halo 4. He’s since been promoted. If you’ve never had a chance to watch one of his videos where he shows how he creates a concept, then you’re in for a treat! His mastery of digital programs for ‘painting’ something like this is nearly unparalleled.
The above concept should definitely look familiar. If I’m not mistaken, it was one of the first revealed for Halo 4.halo4_coolant_room_01_by_goran_bukvic_additions_01
Here is a rough concept of a coolant room. Even in it’s unfinished looking state, it still gives measure to the power of Forerunner technology.

The last five concepts are of sentinel factories within Requiem.halo4_sentinel_factory_01_by_goran_bukvic_additions_01halo4_sentinel_factory_02_by_goran_bukvic_additions_01
I like the above one for it’s warm colors. The light bouncing off the top of the factory adds to the realism of this concept.
Now I’m not sure why the above is called a sentinel factory. But I’m not about to argue that point. It’s perspective tells us this is a HUGE structure.halo4_sentinel_factory_04_by_goran_bukvic_additions_01
The above two show the progression of concept art. The top one is a sketch not showing as much detail, while the bottom one is much more fleshed out. Note the subtle changes in design as well. It’s clear they came from the same line of thinking though.

Have any favorites from this article? Let me know by replying below.

Tomorrow we have more than two dozen concepts of UNSC locations in Halo 4.


Controversial Innuendo in Halo Escalation #6?

Looking at the first 6 pages released by 343, on the fourth page, there is something rather peculiar.

I’ve cropped the page to show exactly what I’m talking about:

escalation6_4 callout panel

Anyone notice what’s wrong here?

Why is Palmer’s Booster Frame numbered ’69’? That’s very sexist and something that should not be in Halo. Now either 343 missed this when proofing it, or they saw it and approved it anyway, or the artist changed it after 343 having looked at the final proof.

Perhaps someone needs to say something to Darkhorse. I’ve enjoyed the series and as an adult, this isn’t as jarring to me. However, there ARE kids who read these comics. No doubt given the culture these days, they know what that means. So is that something either/both 343/Darkhorse want to have in the comic book?

Look, I’m not trying to take the high road here. I cuss all the time when I’m gaming. But in the context of this being in a comic book, which have throngs of kids who read them… Well, I just hope it doesn’t happen in the future.