Graphic Novel/Comics Review


The Ballad of Halo Jones

(1984 / 2001 edition) Alan Moore & Ian Gibson, Titan/ 2000AD, 12.99 / US$19.99, trdpbk, 200pp, ISBN 1-840-23342-7
(1984 / 2007 edition) Alan Moore & Ian Gibson, Rebellion, 11.99, trdpbk, 200pp, ISBN 1-904-26541-3
(1984 / 2013 edition) Alan Moore & Ian Gibson, 2000AD, 13.99, trdpbk, 208pp, ISBN 978-1-781-08148-8

 

In a high-tech (but imperfect) 50th century future, young Halo Jones faces boredom and a lack of purpose on Manhatten's Island's Hoop. On the other hand life in this future is dangerous and so there is trepidation in the air when Halo, Rodice and flatmates (shabitat-mates) find that there is no food left in the larder which means... 'a shopping expedition'. An activity that involves facing the Hoop's perils.

With danger on one hand and boredom on the other, Halo eventually decides she wants 'out': she has got things to do (she knows not what) and places to go (she knows not where) and so works her passage off planet on a starship. This in turn leads to many adventures, not least of which, for a while, involves becoming a marine fighting a war on an ultra-high gravity, hence time-distorted planet... She has to get 'out'; she has things to do and places to go.

Sassy, streetwise, feminist, wryly witty and battle-proven, Halo Jones' escapades are one of the SF comic strip classics of the late 20th century. The first episode was published July 1984 in 2000AD prog 376. However it was not long before her adventures became known beyond 2000AD's readership and the story even in 1988 inspired a fairly nifty Transvision Vamp song (see below). Alan (The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen) Moore wrote the script and there is his usual dry wit. For example, when Halo and Toy are on war games there is this exchange:

"Hi Toy. Are you dead too? I got my brain fried."

"That's nothing. I got turned into an unidentifiable boneless mass by a vibromine. I'm sick of manoeuvres. I always get killed and end up sitting here dead."

Never mind. Maybe being dead is a skill that will come in handy in later life?"

Yet it has to be acknowledged that the overall plot was not just down to Alan Moore, there was also a fair bit of story input from the tale's artist Ian Gibson. Whatever, the result is excellent.

The 2007 Rebellion and 2013 2000AD editions collect all the ballad's three parts and is black and white as it originally appeared in 2000AD albeit slightly reduced in size. However this is one of those cases where there is a distinct plus in reading the collected graphic novel to having done so as they appeared in the original weekly instalments. When The Ballad was originally published it was over a period of nearly two years with breaks between each of the three parts. Reading it in such a way it was easy to miss signals of the arcing plot elements. For example, that elements of plot's complete arc are there in the first three episodes. In addition, for what it is worth, the 2013 edition has an introduction by author Lauren Beukes (Moxyland) who in turn is notable for winning the SF Clarke Award in 2011.

As you would expect of a classic, this graphic collection has been in print virtually continuously since the 1980s, first as three separate volumes (one for each part) in 1986 and then, as with these editions, in a single collected volume first published in 1991. The surprise for us is that nobody on the Concat team has reviewed this before: especially as Tony is well into Moore, and Graham and I are into 2000AD. This Rebellion edition (2007) is in the new, slightly reduced format: so purists may wish to seek out an earlier full-sized edition such as The Complete Ballad of Halo Jones (2001 from Titan Books) that also has introductions from Moore and Gibson. Alas, the 2013 edition's new cover does not have Gibson's distinctive artwork.

Halo Jones is up to Moore's usual excellent standard and is an early representation of one of 2000AD's many high points. No self-respecting aficionado of SF in comics should be able to look themselves straight in the mirror if they don't have an edition of Halo Jones in their collection.

Jonathan Cowie

Just for you luverly folk, here is a YouTube clip of the Halo Jones song by Transvison Tramp.
The 4.5 minute vid features Halo Jones artwork from 2000AD.
Splundig.

And here are the lyrics to the afore Transvision Vamp song Hanging Out With Halo Jones. Take it away Wendy James... Yeah.

Well they used to call me Queen Bee
'Til I threw the throne
Hummin' all day man
That's for the drones
Then it was leather and chains
A real wild child
Now it's the sonic groove
And an ivory smile-oh, if looks could kill
Hey now, I'm a girl of the times
A child of design
Romance, romance is cool
But I've got things to do

I'm hanging out with Halo Jones
So don't call round 'cos I won't be home
I'm hanging out with Halo Jones
Hanging out with Halo Jones
Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah
Yeah, yeah, yeah!

Now Halo Jones, she's a nuromancer
Well, she looks like a dream and she moves like a panther
Halo, Halo Jones
Is a girl of ice and fire
She got everything
That all the boys desire

But if you're asking, then the answer's no
Got things to do and places to go
We're heading out for independence so
I'm hanging out with Halo Jones
Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah
Yeah, yeah, yeah!

Well let me tell ya now
All the guys just wanna shoot
They say we're sweet, huh
They say we're cute
But we know, yeah we know, we know
That ain't so, ah, ah, no way

Now we're skyway bound
Looking down ono the city lights
Me and Halo
Heading out on the late night flight
Hey now, I'm a girl of the times
A child of design

I'm hanging out with Halo Jones
Don't call round 'cos I won't be home
Got things to do and places to go
Just leave your intentions on the answer-phone
I'm hanging out with Halo Jones
Hanging out with Halo Jones
Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah
Yeah, yeah, yeah!

And we know, yeah we know, yeah we know
That we gotta go, gotta go, gotta go, go
Go, go, go, go with Halo Jones


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[Originally posted: 07.1.15 Updated: 13.4.20 | Contact | Copyright | Privacy]