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"Oh, and before you close your browser and fire up some weekend Halo, head over to HBO and check out A Fistful of Arrows. It's incredible."
—Eric "Urk" Osborne, Community Manager of Bungie
Halo: A Fistful of Arrows is a Halo Fan Web Comic written by the comic and concept artist Levi Hoffmeier, commonly known as Leviathan, also the author of A Sangheili's War is Never Over. It takes place after the events of Halo: Reach, and revolves around the story of Noble Team's sole survivor Jun and what happens to him between the events of the game and Halo First Strike.
It's August 30th 2552, the Fall of Reach, and Jun and Dr. Halsey are fleeing the battle on their Pelican. Halsey intends to return to CASTLE Base, her nigh-impenetrable fortress beneath Reach's Menachite Mountain. However, she is still frosty toward Jun, aware that he is a Spartan not from her original program, while Jun himself is struggling with his failures in past missions, coupled with his current one to keep Halsey safe. Various flashbacks, including one extracted video feed by Halsey's AI (and "older sister" to Cortana) Kalmiya, shed light on the past of Jun, particularly regarding one difficult op to capture an Insurrectionist leader, and how when the weight fell on Jun to save the mission, he stumbled...
Oh yes, and the Covenant's invading. It's a great time to be under pressure.
The comic is an independent work, but features beautiful images rivaling Halo's own concept art. It's received a lot attention among the Halo community, especially at Halo.Bungie.Org and even from Bungie itself. While there's no official word yet from 343 Industries, A Fistful of Arrows is probably the highest requested work from the Halo fans to be promoted to Ascended Fanon.
- Accidental Aiming Skills: A big one is Jun's greatest failure.
- All There in the Manual: The Adjunct sections add a bit more background to the characters and settings of "FoA".
- Always a Bigger Fish: A Covenant Corvette gets shot down by a UNSC Frigate, who in turn gets shot down by a Covenant battlecruiser.
- And I Must Scream: "And then my home, my sculptures, my veins and my blood was burned away. I have been forced into the sublevels, trapped in my own mind." - Quezon's Superintendent.
- Anyone Can Die: Noble Team is dead before the comic started. Jun doesn't appear in First Strike. The Covenant is bombing the whole planet. Pretty much the only exceptions are Halsey and Kalmiya, the latter who will die several hours after the comic's end, but everyone else who wasn't the book is fair game.
- Arc Number: In keeping with Bungie tradition, the comic is 77 pages long, not counting the cover or Adjunct sections.
- Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: In the Quezon Superintendent's case, lament, lament, forgiving.
Quezon Superintendent: "Even now I have a prowler under Tayabas Bay, upgraded with [something new/something blue]. But you continue to you castle and doom yourselves. I could have saved you, Jun. (I've forgiven for those cranes you damaged, by the way...)"
- Bittersweet Ending: Jun lives, but leaves CASTLE Base to prevent word of the recent battle getting out do so the Covenant won't get suspicious. They'll find the base anyway. On the other hand, Halsey lives, and the rest of the canon plotline establishes that she gets rescued by her own Spartans, most everyone evacuating Reach and getting back to UNSC space.
- Book Ends: The first page of the inside of the cover is the left half of Noble Team's logo. The second-to-last page of the comic is the right half.
- But Now I Must Go
- Cassandra Truth: Carter doesn't believe Jun when he tells him his suspicions that the hostage they rescued was really the leader of the Insurrectionist group they've been hunting down.
- Outside of the storyline, go ahead and tell Levi a mistake you might have found in the comic. Return a little later to find the mistake corrected and him claiming to have no idea what you're talking about...
- Celebrity Paradox: Bungie is apparently alive and well in the 26th century. One wonders what their "killer app" for the Xbox was in this universe.
- Chekhov's Armory: The stash of weapons Jun brought along in the Pelican, including C-12 charges, sniper ammo magazines, and Armor Lock.
- Chekhov MIA: Hunters always come in pairs...
- Cold Sniper / Friendly Sniper: Jun is lingering somewhere between the two, and letting himself fall into either is a bad idea.
- Continuity Nod: Lots, especially for a fanon work.
- UNSC destroyers, frigates, Marathon cruisers, and a Vulture aircraft appear during the battle with a Covie fleet, none of which, with the exception of cruisers and frigates, have appeared in the same media before.
- Emile gets scars on his helmet after being ambushed, so Kat recommends he covers it up with "a pretty picture."
- The city of Quezon gets its own Superintendent.
- From a extra: "New Alexandria's Popular Club Errera - Site of Major Drug Operation?"
- When Kalmiya expresses concern over accessing various restricted files, Halsey tells her "Whatever it takes", a password later re-used in First Strike.
- She also mentions having to push "Ackerson's AI (Araquiel) out of the way."
- Captain MacLean is wearing the same kind of Recon armor as Dare wore in ODST, since he is involved with ONI.
- Kalmiya mentions the previous time Halsey was taken hostage.
- A Spartan-II is seen at the end of the comic, heading to CASTLE Base to pick up Halsey.
- Crap Saccharine World: Quezon, a beautiful city filled with lots of beautiful buildings, convenient service, and great weather and nighttime views. All thanks to a nice little AI who runs the whole city's infrastructure. But if he doesn't want you to leave, he could always shut down the highway...
- The Danza: The ODSTs' names are based off of Halo.Bungie.Org regulars and admins, such as "Louis" Errera, Captain Mac"Laird", Bryan Mulheran, and Jeffrey Easterling.
- Deadpan Snarker: The Quezon Superintendent, in heavy contrast to his Tastes Like Diabetes ads featuring him.
- The Dog Was the Mastermind: The hostage Noble Team saves was really the Insurrectionist leader they were looking for.
- The Dev Team Thinks of Everything: On the website one can read an interactive form of the comic assembled like a virtual graphic novel. And just to show their work the animations for opening and closing the cover versus turning the pages are different!
- Disney Death: Emile gets mowed down by rebels in a Warthog but lives.
- Jun appears to blow himself up with a plasma grenade, but activates his Armor Lock just in time.
- The second Hunter survived the Phantom crash. Jun eventually kills it again.
- Doomed by Canon: Reach is a losing battle for humanity. And Jun doesn't appear in Halo First Strike.
- Dropped a Bridge on Him: Spoofed by Levi in a bonus comic.
- Dropped a Bridget On Him: The Adjunct page on Eliza Ingrid briefly contained a goof by the author (now corrected), which stated that Eliza claimed to be the "nephew" of Governor Jacob Jiles, contrary to DNA results. Refuting this would not take a DNA test.
- Epiphany Therapy: Jorge gives a short speech to Jun, but it's unclear if it did anything to help. A little later, Jun performs Epiphany Therapy ON HIMSELF.
- Evil Versus Evil: According to the Adjunct, this is how the Insurrection views the war between the Covenant and the UNSC.
- Exact Words: Jun's last statement to Carter, "I'll do what's necessary."
- Gone Horribly Right: Well, they DID catch the Innie leader... but only after she went off a bridge.
- Gory Discretion Shot: "Jun, I need that bullet now-" Cut to a hostage's face being splattered by blood.
- Harmless Villain: The Grunt who "gots" Jun, and gets his grenades stolen, as typical to Grunts throughout the Halo series.
- Heroic Sacrifice / Taking You with Me: The UNSC Daedalus Wing, who rams a Covenant Assault Carrier while detonating the nukes it carries.
- Zig-Zagged by none other than Jun.
- Honor Before Reason: Captain MacLean disagrees with Halsey over the best way to follow his mission to defend her. She wants to hole up in the base until the Covenant fleets have left the area, but he and his men take a more gung-ho attitude. Against a massive invading alien horde, that's probably a bad idea.
- Later a Special Operations Elite insists on leaving Jun alive once a fellow Elite pins him down so that he can be killed by the energy sword he "dishonored". This buys him just the time he needed.
- Hope Spot: A Covenant corvette gets shot down! Hooray! Then the frigate that destroyed it gets blown to pieces by a bigger CCS-class battlecruiser.
- Jun survived blowing himself up to kill the Special Ops Elites! And then the missing Hunter showed up...
- I Did What I Had to Do: An adjunct extra reveals this justification from Kalmiya, though as anyone who's read First Strike knows, is not for her, but for Halsey, for killing her.
- Jun is a Deconstruction, thanks to his "unhealthy emotional detachment in regards to the consequences of his actions" according to his evaluators. Ultimately, he decides to stop resisting and "do what's necessary.", even if it puts his life on the line.
- Implacable Army: The Covenant invading Reach, as with most of the canon, is treated like this. Halsey's strategy against them? Hole up in CASTLE Base and "wait for the storm to pass over."
- Improbable Aiming Skills: Played straight by Jun in the beginning scene of the comic. But horribly, horribly subverted later on.
- Ink Suit Actor: The rebel boy and hostage girl who were actually working together are designed off of Leviathan himself and his girlfriend.
- Take That Me: Seeing as said boy is killed two pages in...
- It Got Worse: The swarm of Covenant attacking CASTLE Base keeps getting bigger and bigger. Just as Jun manages to eliminate the Hunter about to reach the ODSTs, they get killed by a trio of Special Ops Elites. Then when he kills THOSE, the other Hunter shows up.
- Living MacGuffin: Halsey, who gets a whole ODST squad, Spartan, diversion fleet, and fortress base deployed to protect her.
- Also Eliza Ingrid, the leader of an Insurrectionist group on Reach.
- Mission Control: Jun isn't this time, but Kalmiya is.
- My Greatest Failure: When Jun has to take the shot and snipe out Eliza's driver. He misses and hits the car's tire.
- Mythology Gag: Jun finally "baked [his] cake", but with C-12 shaped charges and Lotus anti-tank mines. It references a previous gag from Halo: Reach, where Jun's line "Time to bake that cake we made last night!" got left in the subtitles but cut in the voice acting.
- Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: "You just kicked the hornet's nest."
- Kalmiya chooses to ignore the Quezon AI before he can tell her he has a hidden upgraded stealth Prowler vessel.
- Obstructive Bureaucrat: According a Special Ops Elite, the Prophets. "Damnable Prophets, always blocking our progress..."
- Only a Flesh Wound: Jun claims his injuries from a Hunter smacking him into a cliff face are "nothing a little bio-foam can't fix." But he never takes that medical care anyway.
- Painting the Fourth Wall / Speech Bubbles: The character's speech bubbles are painted different colors depending on who is speaking. Usually Spartans' have black bubbles with white words, humans have white bubbles with black words, Kalmiya has brown bubbles with yellow words, and Covenant have purple bubbles with white words.
- Ramming While Simultaneously Detonating Your Ship's Nukes Always Works
- Right Behind Me: "Boo."
- Scary Dogmatic Aliens: The Covenant, naturally.
- Scenery Porn: Man, Reach IS beautiful.
- Ship Tease: Kat's Crowning Moment of Awesome where she saves Carter after he falls out of their Falcon for a couple that's already been shipped quite a lot since Reach came out. They're also shown talking together alone in the same dark room, but the topic is pretty formal and there's at least one tech in the same room.
- Shout-Out: A scrolling title at the the bottom of the 1st Quezon Adjunct mentions a season premiere for "Samurai Fronk".
- Shown Their Work: So that's where Emile gets the scratches to carve up his skull helmet, right? Uh-oh, looks a two-second frame of the Deliver Hope trailer showed him with the skull several months earlier. Unless these scratches were for a different helmet, but that wouldn't be addressed, would it?
- Shrug of God: "Something new/Something blue."
- Who the Spartans-IIs at the end of the comic are is also up to the viewer.
- Summon Bigger Fish: Halsey's plan to reach CASTLE base safely in their Pelican is to rely on the Covenant fleet being distracted by the UNSC fleet defending the High Command headquarters on Reach. Not the human fleet is actually bigger...
- There Are No Therapists: There are, but Jun denies that the results were accurate. They also completely mis-evaluated Eliza Ingrid.
- Translation Convention: Unlike Halo: Reach, Covenant speech can be understood. Worthy of note that their speech is always bracketed and and their speech bubbles are painted purple.
- Unusual Euphemism: "Let's bake this cake." *blows up landing dock*
- What Happened to the Mouse?: The whole comic is about explaining this for Jun between Halo: Reach and First Strike. It's played straight by the fact that Jun stays behind outside of CASTLE Base anyway.
- Eliza Ingrid, after she is captured. There's one mention of her being interrogated by ONI afterward in her Adjunct section, and being "taken off this doomed earth/hearth" but what happens to her next is unknown.
- Especially sharp-eyed readers may notice the number of Grunts goes up and down. First there's one Minor Grunt coming the mountain with the Hunter, then it's one Major Grunt with the Special Ops Elites, and then two Major Grunts when they capture Jun. Then again, a huge explosion mops them all up at the end, so no harm done.
- Worf Effect: Emile, arguably. He manages to almost catch an escaping rebel, only to be mowed down by fellow rebels in a Warthog, though he survives. When he tries to catch the same rebel again, they turn too quickly for him to pull them out of their car, and he ends up holding only the door. Then when they're finally caught, he's not allowed to kill them.
- The comic's Hunters too, who drop from a single snipe shot and a knife slash, respectively. But hey, the battle was getting hard enough as it is.
- Wounded Gazelle Gambit: Eliza Ingrid, the leader of the Insurrectionist team Noble Team was hunting, pretends to be a hostage, then blows the base she's brought to.
- Zerg Rush: Why combating the Covenant in any way during the comic is suicide. There's always going to be more.