Halo Jones

 Posted: 2002
 Staff: Al Sjoerdsma (E-Mail)
  Ballad of Halo Jones (Complete)
Jan 1984
Review:  Not Required [No Spider-Man]
Writer: Alan Moore
Pencils: Ian Gibson

Titan Books in conjunction with 2000 AD is doing Alan Moore fans a great favor. Those of you who fit the category are certainly reading the "America's Best Comics" line in which Moore is writing everything from late Victorian fantasy in The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen (which stars, among others, Captain Nemo, Mr. Hyde, and the Invisible Man), to pulp magazine/silver age comic adventures in Tom Strong, to cop-show teleplay-style workings of police in a world populated by super-heroes in Top Ten, to the elusive and exquisite mysticism of the wonderful Promethea. All recommended but already in your pull files, I expect.

And if you've been reading Moore comics for a decade or so, you are certainly also familiar with Watchmen, From Hell, Miracleman, The Killing Joke, and Swamp-Thing.

But you may not know about the work that appeared in five or six page chapters in the British Science Fiction weekly 2000 A.D., the self-styled "Galaxy's Greatest Comic". Now, though, that work is being reprinted in oversized paperbacks by Titan Books. There is The Complete D.R. and Quinch", "Skizz", and the best of the lot, The Complete Ballad of Halo Jones. In fact, Halo is not only the best of this group, it is among the best of Alan Moore's work, which is to say, among the best comic work you'll find anywhere.

The First Book of The Ballad of Halo Jones originally appeared in Progs (Issues) #376-385 (July 7-September 8, 1984), the Second Book in Progs #406-415 (February 23-April 27, 1985), and the Third Book in Progs #451-466 (January 4-April 19, 1986) of the Galaxy's Greatest Comic. The story begins in The Hoop, a city-sized domed mall and multiplex situated off the coast of Manhattan sometime in the future. The Hoop is home to the alien Proximen, brain implanted "glombies" known as Drummers (as in "march to the beat of a different..."), roving bands of elitist fashion-conscious gangs and regular folks like Halo Jones and her roommates Rodice, Brinna, Ludy, and the robot dog Toby. For the first few chapters, Moore dabbles with the story of a young fun-loving girl in a strange future environment whose biggest ordeal is the trauma of undergoing a shopping expedition. It is clever and entertaining but not especially earth shattering. But, just when you think you've got all the characters and the series figured out, everything changes. One of Halo's friends is brutally murdered, another joins the Drummers, and Halo goes to Manhattan and takes a job as a hostess on the luxury space liner Clara Pandy.

I don't want to reveal too much more than that but I will say that subsequent chapters introduce a whole new set of characters such as the dolphin steersman Kititirik Tikriktit, the rat king whose mind is created by a half-dozen rats with their tails entwined, the amazon-like soldier Toy, and the androgynous nobody who no one can ever remember. Along the way, the murder is resolved in a surprising fashion, Halo ships out of the solar system, and ends up a mercenary in a war that eventually involves her in shifting rates of time. By the time the series ends, she has changed considerably from the teenager she was at the beginning. It is one of the most remarkable transitions of a character ever presented in comics and it includes some of the most poignant and thought-provoking moments you could wish for. It created such an impact that, even now, almost twenty years later, readers are writing in to 2000 AD (in Prog 1272, for example) asking for a continuation of the series. It is still so esteemed that, in the 2000 AD 25th Anniversary Annual (Prog "2002"), the editors chose an event from "The Ballad" (which I will not give away) as #2 in the Most Heart-Breaking Moments in the whole of the history of their magazine.

The price is $19.99 and is absolutely worth it. Buy it.

 Posted: 2002
 Staff: Al Sjoerdsma (E-Mail)