Halo: Escalation is a 24-issue comic series published by Dark Horse Comics from 2013 to 2015, set in the Halo universe. Set in the aftermath of Halo 4, the series shows the effects of Halo 4 on the wider galaxy, and also serves as a prelude for Halo 5: Guardians.
Issues #1-3: In the aftermath of Spartan Ops, the UNSC Infinity accompanies Fleet Admiral Terrence Hood to help negotiate a cease fire between the Elites under Arbiter Thel 'Vadam and a Brute pack under Chieftain Lydus. But when the negotiations are attacked by rogue Covenant forces, the UNSC must deal with the possibility that they've been betrayed from within.
Issues #4-6: As Captain Thomas Lasky, Spartan Naiya Ray, and journalist Petra Janacek search for the spy who helped sabotage the Elite-Brute negotiations, Lord Hood and the Infinity discover information indicating that the long-lost UNSC Spirit of Fire is stranded deep within Brute space.
Issue #7: Eight months after the "New Phoenix Incident", Spartan Gabriel Thorne attends the reopening of his old hometown, in an effort to settle the ghosts still haunting him.
Issues #8-10: During the 72 hours after the end of Halo 4, the Master Chief reunites with Blue Team to investigate an incident on Installation 03, where he ends up facing one of his greatest dangers.
Issues #11-12: Spartans Ray and Thorne are sent to an unclaimed world on the border of the Joint Occupation Zone to investigate a deadly Covenant-developed bioweapon.
Issues #13-16: The crew of the Infinity have their rematch with Jul 'Mdama's Covenant, in a fight for control over the Janus Key. All the while, 'Mdama has to deal with dissension from within the ranks regarding his alliance with Dr. Catherine Halsey.
Issues #17-18: An interlude concerning the origins of Spartan Holly Tanaka.
Issues #19-24: The Infinity's crew once again battle Jul 'Mdama's forces, this time for control over the Forerunner relic known as the Absolute Record.
Tropes associated with Halo: Escalation
- Ambadassador: Thel 'Vadam and Lydus. While they came to negotiate, when the fighting starts they both get in on the fighting. Lydus begins opening fire with a Spiker, and the Arbiter personally slashes a Jackal Sniper with his Energy Sword.
- Apologetic Attacker: Palmer as she shoots Lord Hood in the leg to get Scruggs to let go of him.Palmer: I'm sorry. Really.
Scruggs: That is not the answer I was expecting.
Palmer: Well, I wasn't talking to you.
(Shoots Hood in the leg)
- Ascended Fridge Horror: After Halo: Silentium came out and revealed that the Forerunners used Composers on the defeated ancient Humans, it left fans with the horrified realization that the Forerunners built more than one Composer. True enough, "The Next 72 Hours" shows six fully operational Composers at the Composer's Forge, which has the capability to make even more.
- Back for the Dead: In Issue 8, this happens to Spartan Team Black from Halo: Blood Line, who had not shown up in any Halo media since 2010 and were only confirmed to be alive less than a month before said issue came out. To top it off, their deaths happened offscreen; the next issue had a very brief flashback showing them encountering the Didact, but said flashback ends just as they're about to fight.
- Badass Normal: Petra Janecek is a human civilian who is nonetheless more than capable of taking care of herself in ex-Covenant territory; at one point, she uses an ancient revolver to blow an angry Elite away and scare off his buddies.
- The Bad Guy Wins: At the end of the Janus Key arc, Jul 'Mdama successfully acquires both halves of the Janus Key, giving him the real-time location of the Absolute Record.
- Big Damn Heroes: Sarah Palmer and Fireteam Majestic, who destroy Vata 'Gajat's ship just as it's about to attack the crippled Infinity.
- Bodyguard Betrayal: Despite being part of the UNSC delegation's bodyguard detail at Ealen IV, Spartan-IV Vladimir Scruggs is actually working with Vata 'Gajat's forces.
- Breather Episode: Issue 7, which deals with Thorne and Grant attending the reopening of New Phoenix after Halo 4, and is set between the end of the Mole arc and The Next 72 Hours arc which focuses on the Master Chief.
- Casual Danger Dialogue: John-117 and Monitor 859 Static Carillon have a discussion while Blue Team is battling a huge army of Prometheans.
- The Cavalry: Monitor 859 Static Carillon saves John-117 and Blue Team more than once during the Next 72 Hours arc.
- Continuity Nod: All over the place:
- The UNSC Security Council first seen in Halo: First Strike makes an appearance in the opening issue. General Strauss, one of the members in First Strike, is also shown on the Council.
- While the Arbiter wears a new form of armor, Lydus's armor is reminiscent of Halo: Reach, and their Elite and Brute bodyguards wear armor from Halo 3.
- In issue 4, Fireteam Majestic rides booster frames seen in Halo Legends.
- Issues 4 through 6 center on the search for the Spirit of Fire from Halo Wars. Admiral Hood reveals that he used to be the executive officer for the Spirit, and regarded Captain Cutter as his mentor. It turns out to be a trap by Insurrectionists to attack the Infinity.
- Issue 7 sees Gabriel Thorne and Tedra Grant go the reopening of New Phoenix with a ceremony overseen by Unified Earth Government President Ruth Charet, who was first mentioned in Halo: Glasslands. In the same issue Grant tells Thorne that she grew up on Arcadia after it was first attacked by the Covenant, which was seen in Halo Wars.
- Curb-Stomp Battle: The Didact easily kills SPARTAN Black Team, and would have most likely killed John-117 and Blue Team had it not been for Static Carillon's intervention.
- Cruel Mercy: Jul 'Mdama captures and spares Sali 'Nyon, rather than give him an honorable death in combat.
- Depending on the Writer: While it may be a result of not seeing things through her perspective, Issue 1 shows Admiral Serin Osman in a much more antagonistic role than she was in the Kilo-Five trilogy, looking as if she wants to personally throttle the life out of Captain Lasky over whether or not he sabotaged her orders to kill Catherine Halsey.
- The Exposure storyline portrays Osman as even more sinister, in which she tricks Infinity into sending two Spartans into the middle of a Kig-Yar pirate nest (which she doesn't tell them about), which inevitably forces Infinity to destroy the pirate base in order to save the Spartans.
- Enemy Civil War: In the Janus Key arc, Jul 'Mdama has to put down a breakaway faction of even more radical Sangheili led by Sali 'Nyon, at the same time as he's dealing with the Infinity's forces. Jul ultimately wins pretty easily, even managing to capture 'Nyon.
- False Flag Operation: Vata 'Gajat's attack on the Elite-Brute peace delegation was ordered not by Jul 'Mdama or any other Covenant warlord, but by Insurrectionist humans from the New Colonial Alliance.
- Heroic Sacrifice: Paul DeMarco sacrifices his life maintaining a Tyrant anti-air cannon to allow the others to escape. It had been assumed Fireteam Bailey had also sacrificed themselves along with them, but Catalog later clarified that only DeMarco died.
- Human Shield: Scruggs takes Lord Hood as a shield to prevent anyone from attacking him. Palmer responds by (non-fatally) shooting Hood anyway before attacking Scruggs.
- Information Broker: Zef 'Trahl, an Elite and contact of Petra Janecek.
- In Mysterious Ways: Sali 'Nyon uses this as an excuse when one of his subordinates questions him about not only their losses to 'Mdama, but the fact that the Promethean Knights continue to remain loyal to Jul, despite him being a supposed false prophet.
- Large Ham: Now that they're back to speaking English, the Elites are making up for lost time in the ham department.Elite Warrior: I will peel you like a ripe fruit, heretic!
Spartan Ray: These guys sure do love the sound of their own voice, don't they?
- Kangaroo Court: When Lasky meets with the UNSC Security Council about the destruction of Requiem and failed assassination of Catherine Halsey, Lasky asks whether this is an official inquiry. Hood reassures him that nobody is pointing fingers. Osman, on the other hand, seems particularly inclined to make it one.
- The Mole: Captain Daniel Clayton, the illegitimate son of Captain James Cutter, who defected when he learned that Lord Hood had greased the wheels for his career out of guilt for not recovering the log left by the Spirit of Fire, and joined the Insurrection.
- My Greatest Failure: Lord Hood's first command was to recover the log left by the Spirit of Fire at Arcadia without engaging Covenant forces. However, by that point a young Captain Hood was fed up with retreating from the Covenant, so he ordered his ship Roman Blue to attack a pair of Covenant destroyers. Hood was ultimately forced to retreat without recovering the log. Hood blamed himself and spent years supporting both Cutter's wife and daughter, and his mistress and illegitimate son.
- Never Trust a Trailer: The official summaries of at least two issues have completely contradicted what actually happens within the comics released months later.
- Issue #5 suggests that Lasky's friend, Petra, infiltrates an Elite holy land in search of the identity of the traitor. Later shown to be a Sangheili colony on a backwater planet, where things are decidedly secular.
- Issue #6 says that the Infinity would free the Spirit of Fire from Vata 'Gajat, with Petra's search for the traitor leading to her possible death. Vata never had the Spirit of Fire, which never appeared for much more than a few pages, and Petra was never in any danger.
- Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: In Issue 16 Palmer's gambit to recapture both the Key AND Halsey (instead of just grabbing the key when she had the chance) backfires horribly, resulting in Halsey and Jul 'Mdama escaping with both halves of the key, enabling the Covenant to learn the location of the Absolute Record.
- Not Quite Dead: The Ur-Didact is revealed in Issue 8 to still be alive.
- Also the Flood is alive and kicking on board the crippled Spirit of Fire.
- Off with His Head!: When Blue Team discovers the corpses of Black Team, one of the bodies seems to have been outright decapitated.
- Oh, Crap!: Palmer's reaction to a Harvester popping up out of the ground right in front of her.
- Outlaw Town: Karava, an Elite colony world where less reputable warriors stay.
- Properly Paranoid: Hood agrees to Lasky's suggestion of an "off the books" investigation into who leaked the location of the peace talks because he can't trust ONI or the UNSC judicial services to do it without tipping off the traitor.
- "The Reason You Suck" Speech/What the Hell, Hero?: In Issue 16, Dr. Halsey rips into Palmer, calling her out for - amongst other things - doing Admiral Osman's dirty work, as well as for accepting ONI's spin on her "war crimes" without question.
- The Remnant: According to issue 5, the Covenant has fractured even more than anyone previously thought.Zef 'Trahl: What does it mean to be "Covenant" today? A hundred warlords claim they rule the Covenant, but each of them leads only a small faction.
- Revolvers Are Just Better: Petra Janecek owns a revolver which look strongly like a peacemaker (which would be over five centuries old by Escalation). And uses it to kill an Elite that was threatening her, Lasky, and Spartan Ray.
- Sacrificial Lion: Paul DeMarco at the end of the Ealen-IV arc. Whether Black Team was this during The Next 72 Hours or C-List Fodder is highly debated.
- Shoot the Hostage: Palmer shoots Lord Hood in the leg when the latter's taken hostage by Scruggs.
- Villainous Breakdown: Daniel Clayton begins to lose his composure when Palmer and Majestic break into the glassing station, even ordering them to stand down. Madsen puts the butt of his sniper rifle into his face to shut him up.
- Vomit Indiscretion Shot: Issue 5 shows drunk Elites, one of whom vomits right onto his table.
- Wham Shot:
- The presence of a Flood Infection Form onboard the Spirit of Fire.
- The Monitor of the Absolute Record: A Contender-class ancilla, implied to be Offensive Bias.
- You Don't Look Like You: Lord Hood looks nothing like his in-game self, who is an Ink-Suit Actor of Ron Perlman. This might be due to ownership issues, as the comics may not have the rights to Perlman's image.
- The Halo 2 Anniversary redesign of Hood also did away with most of his resemblance to Perlman, so this might just be a full visual retcon.