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The Ballad of Halo Jones #Complete

The Ballad of Halo Jones

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Halo Jones becomes bored with her life in The Hoop and journeys out to see the galaxy.

193 pages, Paperback

First published January 1, 1986

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About the author

Alan Moore

1,811 books19.6k followers
Alan Moore is an English writer most famous for his influential work in comics, including the acclaimed graphic novels Watchmen, V for Vendetta and From Hell. He has also written a novel, Voice of the Fire, and performs "workings" (one-off performance art/spoken word pieces) with The Moon and Serpent Grand Egyptian Theatre of Marvels, some of which have been released on CD.

As a comics writer, Moore is notable for being one of the first writers to apply literary and formalist sensibilities to the mainstream of the medium. As well as including challenging subject matter and adult themes, he brings a wide range of influences to his work, from the literary–authors such as William S. Burroughs, Thomas Pynchon, Robert Anton Wilson and Iain Sinclair; New Wave science fiction writers such as Michael Moorcock; horror writers such as Clive Barker; to the cinematic–filmmakers such as Nicolas Roeg. Influences within comics include Will Eisner, Harvey Kurtzman, Jack Kirby and Bryan Talbot.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 164 reviews
Profile Image for Troy Campbell.
25 reviews10 followers
September 7, 2018
Because I can't put six stars, this has to have five.

When I was 12, being the 2000AD fan I was, I read Book Three and got:


Seriously, what comic, even today, has a heroine that washes out of the military and cuts off her hair with a dull knife? Let alone visibly aging as the series progresses. Heavy stuff. You can tell I never bothered with the Young Adult section and Johnny McHiddenSuperPowers struggling to ask out Lacy Sweety while battling cream-puff bad guys.

Relativistic combat, religion, racism, veteran PTSD issues, the whole morality of war, sexism in combat (in the 50th century, it's unusual for men to be soldiers), toxic relationships, atrocities, toxic masculinity (the genetically-engineered male soldiers are literal Rambo parodies). Oh and a lesbian woman trying to come out to her friend.

I kept the comic for years, as it slowly disintegrated.

Books influence your outlook on life, and I know now this was one of the big influencers on mine. Science Fiction has no shortage of powerful female protagonists, but it has very few everywomen. I only later managed to get my hands on the full story. While the raw emotional power is in Book Three, the really interesting worldbuilding and character setup is missed out on. It's a pity that Halo Jones never got continued, because there was a grand story just beginning to hit its stride. It got further than Firefly, and I am happy with what there is.

This book leaves most comics and shounen manga in the dust when it comes to realistic depiction of people - Alan Moore's writing combined with the Ian Gibson art droid's panels make a subversive and accessible mix.

The first Book on the Hoop (a circular floating city) shows a welfare society with rampant unemploymeny, not unlike the familiar Mega-City One, and uncomfortable racial friction with the alien Proximans (who are themselves no saints). There are typically 2000AD concepts like the Different Drummers, a menacing androgynous gang/cult who are neurally networked with a hypnotic beat going through their brains.

The second Book is set on the Clara Pandy, which was an old cruise ship supposed to have been scrapped. Halo works a job as a hostess, enjoying a frivolous life of travel as her colleagues hope to snag a rich guy. This seems kind of at odds with the all-female military, but then again Halo Jones is about the experience of women. Given the context, it's entirely likely that male hosts are also trying to land themselves a rich heiress.

The female soldiers (all ages, temperaments, races and who look perfectly ordinary, unlike a manga harem) munch their chow, argue and (very) occasionally talk about the opposite sex. Yet they are very much women, and the Ian Gibson droid manages to capture this perfectly. At all points, there are memorable characters.

Gibson's distinctive cartoonish style and organic lines create a believable far future setting, and then, in a crucial scene, he goes full Art Master and draws a powerful, realistic portrait to hammer something home - making the "reality" of the other strips seem like a sugercoated, insulated reality divorced from the emotions of the heroine. I also think the Gibson droid was showing off a little, because someone had told it "it can't draw realistic" and it took offence.
Profile Image for Gareth.
Author 2 books5 followers
August 21, 2011
Halo Jones is an ordinary 50th century teenager living in The Hoop, a floating housing project for the unemployed and alien imigrants. This futuristic ghetto has got the usual problems of gangs, unreliable amenities and no prospects, but it is bearable because of her two flatmates and her kindly landlady. So when tragedy strikes, Halo is galvanised into taking charge of her life. She signs on as a stewardess aboard the luxury space liner “The Clara Pandy” and becomes involved with a series of adventures, by turns comic and tragic. Ten years later she ends up broke and despairing on a backwater planet, until a chance meeting with an old friend leads her to sign up for the military. Her action-packed tour of duty in mankind's endless interplanetary war makes her a hardened veteran but she still carries her ambitions within her.

“The Ballard of Halo Jones” is to my mind writer Alan Moore's greatest contribution to Britain's famous 2000AD comic, in fact the series is one of the biggest highlights of his first British period. Given that that era includes “V for Vendetta” and “Miracleman”, I know that's high praise indeed. It arose from Alan Moore's desire to write an alternative to the testosterone filled strips that were 2000AD's stock in trade such as “Judge Dredd” and “Rogue Trooper”. He wanted a heroine who wasn't a girl with “a big gun and an extra Y chromosome”. Halo Jones has no special abilities, she isn't particularly strong or sassy. She's an everyday woman forced into extraordinary events. At first the majority of the readership didn't warm to the strip, but the editor recognised it's qualities and that Moore and Gibson were very enthused about their creation. So he commissioned a second run and it was here that the readers really began to click with what the comic was trying to do. Moore and Gibson had envisaged a nine book series that would follow her from being a teenager to an elderly woman, but after the third book Moore fell out with the publisher Fleetway over the rights to the characters he had developed for them and has since refused to write any more. Ian Gibson has occasionally painted a new Halo Jones artwork that gives a hint about her later adventure, be it as a rich merchant or a slave girl.

This volume collects together all the strips that were originally published in 2000AD, prefaced by a new introduction by artist Ian Gibson. The original three book reprint has long been out of print. At the time of its release the book caused a revival of interest in the character. Gibson is fantastic artist, great at producing both SF landscapes and memorable characters. As Moore himself observes “His women are fantastic”. Fantastic because they are full of personality. Often attractive yes, but rather than the pneumatic goddess with gravity defying breasts which are common in comic strips, Halo and her friends have a variety and a reality to them. The two men put a lot of work into the world of the 50th century, devising not just its look but its politics, slang and culture. The result is a detailed convincing future.

The story has the complexity of a novel and reading it in this collected edition I can appreciate the Moore's impressive use of characterisation, the very British humour, the moments of sadness and even shock moments of horror. Moore delighted in mixing in references to classic literature and popular culture too. All ably depicted by Gibson. The original pages has been excellently reproduced on good quality paper, along with the strip's occasional cover art.

The opening segment in The Hoop is fairly comedic until near the end. Her adventures as a stewardess are an even balance between the comic – her crush on a handsome crew-member, a date with a young boy, and the dramatic – a hijack and a secret occupant in one of the cabins. But it hits a highlight in the story of her asexual cabin mate which is funny and tragic simultaneously. The final series depicting her life in the army followed by post-traumatic stress is definitely the darkest yet highlighted by some great jokes. It's as sophisticated as any of Moore's more famous work. This is a great piece of science fiction with brains and heart that's for anyone who likes an good story.
Profile Image for Antonomasia.
979 reviews1,235 followers
October 27, 2014
[4.5] This is so cool!
The idea I'd always had of Halo Jones was a female Arthur Dent but very competent and more serious. Not quite... She comes not from cosy middle England but from a working class / underclass dystopia with language as inventive as A Clockwork Orange. The writing is very witty but in a different way from Douglas Adams. I was completely surprised by part 1 about Halo and her housemates and their dog, great fun but never squealy, brilliant combination of budget flatshare scenario with gritty futuristic SF. Despite extraordinary circumstances, the sense of the grind of daily life is never lost, working on spaceships or fighting in a hopeless war. (As too often in modern history, young people without money, qualifications or connections have few work options but to join the army.)

She's a character type I still see too rarely – a restless female loner, who's seen many places and jobs and friends, can be melancholy about what is gone but has some essential drive to go ever onward. The male equivalent is familiar enough, you might find him sitting in a bar in a Tom Waits song, but for women I can think of fewer fictional examples in any form than real ones I've met. (The only other who readily springs to mind is in the film Wendy and Lucy.) It's great that there isn't a big romantic plotline.

It must be because I first heard of Halo Jones in the 90s – can't for the life of me remember where (I also didn't connect the name with Alan Moore until recently) – so I assumed she was from the 90s too. But no, she was written in the mid-80s. Her character and look reminded me of my theory that Britain in the 80s was a great time as a kid to see fewer traditional stereotypes of girls and women than before or since (I once wrote, but never finished, a long blog post about this which included examples like Bananarama videos and Supergran).

There's so much online discussion about representation of women in comics; okay, I don't exactly read tons of them so what I see of it is mostly covers on Goodreads and stuff on websites. Being very visual and not 100% straight I'm far from offended and enjoy seeing many of these on some level – but the porn-star-in-cutaway-swimsuit type of body and costume still looks silly and comical considering what the characters are meant to be doing, and anyway I'm not really into a pneumatic pumped-up appearance in male or female. Halo Jones is a great example of a character contrary to all that: she looks like a real size 10-12 with a good figure and no extra plastic bits, she has short hair that enemies aren't likely to grab, and she and her friends have that layered, angular 80s fashion style that looks cool without showing much flesh. Yeah, she ends up in a bunny girl type costume for a while but there's still quite a lot of it and plenty of determined women in her situation would take a job like that. The only daft bit is the army trousers that are occasionally shaded at the back so it looks like she's wearing a thong.

The only drawbacks: it's in black-and-white; sometimes the storyline gets jerked around too much and stupid stuff happens because it was written for a short-form a few pages a week release; and there's not enough of it. I don't know that story but it looks like the series was cancelled way too early. Shame!

The post below is from when I tried to read it in December.
Since then I decided just to get the few comics I'd been wanting to read for the best part of ten years or more, and which I haven't seen as films. (I've heard about way too many since joining Goodreads.) Turns out they're nearly all Gaiman or Moore.

The biggest obstacle to my reading more graphic novels has, as I've posted before, always been price. Especially price v. reading time. So when I saw this in the Kindle sale for £1.29 [a)thanks to Blair for the blog post mentioning the sale; b)unfortunately I still use Amazon for major bargains, e.g. under £2] I was quite gleeful. I'd forgotten about Halo Jones recently though in the 90s she seemed to be everywhere and was one I - then - always meant to read.

But it doesn't work, dammit. The panels are displayed too small to read on the Kindle machine, and for no obvious good technical reason comics can't be opened on the desktop app. (They just want you to buy / assume comic-reading geeks will already have fancier machines.) I was so looking forward to it!
Profile Image for Oriente.
337 reviews39 followers
April 5, 2020
Azért mert szép vagy, pofátlanul fiatal, kalandra éhes és van merszed változtatni a sorsodon, még semmi sem garantálja, hogy nem leszel magányos, munkanélküli, alkoholista vagy hajléktalan. Hiperrealista hangvételű űropera képregénybe álmodva.
Nagyon tömény volt, de egyúttal tömény élvezet is: feszes tempójú történet, izgalmas képi világ, érzékeny társadalmi sci-fi, klassz karakterek és világépítés. Szívembe zártam az Alan Moore - Ian Gibson alkotópárost!
Profile Image for Anthony Ryan.
Author 82 books8,732 followers
October 23, 2014
Many would put 'Watchmen' or 'V for Vendetta' at the top of Alan Moore's list of achievements, but, for me, it’s this 2000AD strip from the 1980s that stands as his most seminal work. Beautifully illustrated in black and white by Ian Gibson, Moore's sci-fi epic eschews the grand heroic narrative to focus on the life of a single character in a far from ideal space-age future. Halo Jones is neither hero nor villain, neither genius nor idiot, she's just a woman seeking escape from a constricting existence and making a number of good and bad choices along the way, enlisting to fight in a pan-galactic war being by far the worst. Funny, tragic and ultimately uplifting. If you profess to be a comic book fan and you haven't read this, you're really not trying.
Profile Image for Ludwig Aczel.
321 reviews15 followers
March 1, 2022
Out of the pages of a magazine devoted to warlike testosteronic sci-fi comics for teenagers, comes the ultimate feminist strip of the 80's. Not the first feminist comics of all times, most likely. There were for instance glimpses of feminism in the erotic and dreamy Valentina by the Italian Guido Crepax in the late 60's and early 70's. There was the socio-political awareness of Mafalda, the Argentinian little girl protagonist of Quino's strips. And there must have been other relevant examples by the early 80's that I am not aware of, for instance the work of some female mangaka like Moto Hagio. More relevantly here, by 1984 the cult Love and Rockets by the independent cartoonists Gilbert and Jaime Hernández was already a sensation. That comic book contained stories of young women exploring friendship, music, family, sexuality, pains and joys of everyday life. Alan Moore was surprised by the realistic conversations that those female characters were having in Love and Rockets. Inspired by that, artist Ian Gibson and him decided to pitch a 'sci-fi real girls comics' to the British magazine 2000AD. The result is the Ballad of Halo Jones. It was intended to run for nine years, with nine books covering the life of the protagonist Halo from age eighteen till a very late death. However, the series lasted only three years, ending with Halo Jones aged thirty-three and ready to leave the galaxy to explore the unknown. Moore left the project when the negotiations with 2000AD to obtain the rights on Halo miserably failed. (In the 80's many British comics publishers were still keeping for themselves all the rights on the creations of comics writers and artists. Moore and Gibson tried to break the rule with Halo Jones, unsuccessfully.) 2000AD never continued the series with other writers, despite having the right to do so. So, we are left with an incomplete series, and the regret that what would have followed could have been as good, if not better, than what we got.
This story was written in parallel to Watchmen, that is in a period when Alan Moore's typical storytelling tropes where already well codified. However, Halo Jones is surprisingly different from that canon. It does not feel like an Alan Moore comics from the 80's is what I am trying to say. The main reason may be the peculiar 2000AD structure, which obliged the author to compose five page long episodes. (Maybe the previous mini-series that Moore produced for the magazine had similar narrative paces? I have not read them.)
Gibson's black and white art plays an important role in setting the mood of the series. In book one it is very cartoonish, but also quite sophisticated. Bold compositions of panels and a certain density of refined inking strokes characterise the style. It almost looks as if Gibson were afraid of voids, exploiting every inch on the page to depict this overpopulated urban setting from the distant 5000ad. In a way, book one is all about world-building, even from a story perspective. Basically, all we do is to follow Halo Jones, her roommate and a talking cyborg dog going around for shopping, which in the social dystopian environment where they live apparently requires high strategic skills. Every dialogue gives one more piece of the social puzzle from which ordinary teen Halo wishes to escape. However, I never felt like Moore was using the dialogues for 'info dumping'. Technically he was, but I guess that there is a clever way to do it, and Alan Moore knows it. Another original aspect of the book is the language. These futuristic poor suburban girls talk in a lexicon very alien to us. Moore does not do much to ease our immersion in his fifth millennium, as it should be.
Book two takes a different turn. Pressures from the editors obliged the creators to simplify the reading experience. So, in the second act Moore toned down the bizarre vocabulary. That was quite disappointing for me. But it is what it is, that or nothing, I guess. In book two we see young Halo working as a hostess on a cruise spaceship. The story becomes more episodic, but has some bittersweet high moments. The problem is that Gibson took the editorial impositions quite bad and - according to what he declared later - decided to submit less good art. You can definitely notice the drop of quality of his artwork, especially in the composition of panels and faces expressions.
In book three the tone shifts again, following Halo's mood and psychological state. The art regains quality, but is now more realistic than before. The protagonist is now twenty-nine year old and extremely disillusioned with the galaxy that she has been exploring for a decade. At the bottom of her depressive state, she gets enrolled in a very dirty war. The rest is the best antimilitaristic comics that I have ever seen. The sci-fi side of the story regains prominence with the relativistic war that Halo and her all-female platoon are obliged to fight, on a high gravity planet where things runs in slow motion compared to the time of the rest of mankind. But again, this sci-fi element serves the purpose of denouncing the inhumanity of wars where soldiers are used as dispensable meat. The final twist nicely ties the war plot with a previous apparently non-sensical episode from book two. Halo is now a thirty-three veteran that, despite the PTSD, is in control of her existence, and burns every bridge with her past to leave for other galaxies and other adventures that we will never get to see.
All in all, this was an interesting comic series. Not a masterpiece, in my opinion. I feel like the concept art could have been better, as there is a fair amount of cheesiness in the design of the environments, clothes and characters. And again, I did not appreciate the drop in language and art complexity that we get moving from book one to book two. For the rest, this was a great reading, with a significative amount of clever ideas - each of which could have been used to write an entire sci-fi novel! - condensed in five page long episodes. Halo Jones is not the most sympathetic character, for the simple reason that she does not need to be. She is a real girl, and along the voyage I learned to appreciate her for that.
Profile Image for Orbi Alter .
224 reviews49 followers
August 30, 2016
Moj prvi Alan Moore, pa odmah divnota!
Odusevila me Jones. Ona sanjari, melankolicna je, nema super moci, ne skida se na svakoj drugoj tabli, ne sluzi kao potpora nekom drugom liku i ne prica pricu "vecu od zivota." U kljucnom trenutku svake epizode izgovori poezijuu svega par rijeci i natjera te da razmislis.
U prvom dijelu od tri, ona je jos tinejderka na Krugu, sto je obruc na pucini na kojem je smjestena sva ljudska nezaposlena bijeda, kako ne bi bili ruzan prizor na ulicama. Nakon smrti jedne od svojih prijateljica, ona zeli disati, pobjeci van... Ukrcava se na svemirski kruzer koji je kao i svaki drugi brod dom stakorima, a u ovom slucaju i Kralju stakora, tajnom oruzju za unistenje. Planeta Zemlja je ovdje agresor koji eksploatira resurse drugih planeta. Na tom brodu dozivljava razocarenja, pa i pokusaj ubojstva. U stalnom bijegu, daje otkaz i luta planetima sve dok ne zapne na mjesto na kojem i snovi presahnu te spas nalazi u ukljucenju u vojsku. Mocne su mi slike djecjih snajperista i njihovih ubojica koji su u stanju uvjeriti se da im pred ocima nije dijete. Jones iz rata odnosi PTSP, pa u sumanutoj epizodi nisani civile na cesti jer ne zna sto bi sa sobom... Uspijeva metaforicki pobjeci, pa je zadnja scena simbolicna s njezinim crtezom u pozi koja podsjeca na kip i legendu koja ona postaje na sveucilistima desetljecima kasnije.

"Vidite, 15 sam godina istrazivao sve o ovoj zeni i znate li sto sam otkrio? Ovo... Nije bila ni po cemu posebna. Nije bila narocito hrabra, pametna ni snazna. Samo vise nije mogla podnositi okove svoga zivota. Morala se osloboditi i uspjela je! Otisla je iz Vege, dalje od Moulpueta i Lambarda! Vidjela je mjesta koje vise i ne postoje! I znate li sto je rekla? Njezin najpoznatiji citat?"
"Svatko je to mogao uciniti."
Profile Image for Udeni.
74 reviews68 followers
January 12, 2017
Read for the Book Riot 2017 Read Harder Challenge: Task #18 "Read a superhero comic with a female lead"

Halo Jones isn't exactly a superhero. Just a bored teenager, stuck on the Loop: dead-end city where even a trip to get groceries requires military tactics.
2000AD published "The Ballad of Halo Jones" in individual "Progs" between August and October 1986 and issued a more recent reprint, as a three-book collection. Written by Alan Moore (who wrote Watchmen in the same year) and illustrated by Ian Gibson on less than stellar form. Halo's facial expressions range from the pouty-grumpy to the pouty-surprised. The plot didn't grab me, and the main character is rather dull. Book 1 is Halo and flatmate going shopping. This sounds like the most boring book, but was actually the most entertaining. Book 2 follows Halo as she escapes the Loop for a waitressing job on a space cruiser. Book 3 has Halo join an invading army.

30 years after Halo Jones, there are still very few female leads in comic books. 2000AD never plucked up the courage to find another one.
Profile Image for ✨️.
901 reviews156 followers
June 15, 2016
"Classic feminist space opera"? You've got my attention. Well, really, I was watching FutureShock, the documentary on 2000AD and remember Neil Gaiman gushing about Halo Jones. And now here we are.

Halo Jones is an ordinary girl in the 50th century, bored with life on the Hoop. No jobs or excitement there. So she goes out. Just all very good.
Profile Image for Pelks.
247 reviews23 followers
January 10, 2017
It had me hooked at the phrase "feminist space opera" per the back cover description, and it never let go. I got so engrossed in this that someone had to shake my arm to get me to look up (to ask "Is this seat taken?", because I was still in the library, hypnotized). This was a very enjoyable, very Alan Moore-y read.
Profile Image for Aaron.
983 reviews102 followers
April 16, 2018
Reading this book feels like reading the evolution of Alan Moore as a writer, as if you're watching him mature right there on the page. But, I'm not giving this book 4 stars simply because of its existence as a curiosity. The ideas in here are genuinely fantastic, and the fact that he and Ian Gibson pulled this off with such constraints is remarkable.

This book stands as a collection of the entire run of The Ballad of Halo Jones, a short-form "comic strip" (it's a full-page comic, but is for some reason referred to as a "strip") that Alan Moore and Ian Gibson created for the British sci-fi comic magazine 2000 AD. As such, each chapter of the story, which appeared in a separate issue of 2000 AD, is only about 5 pages long. Therefore, Moore has to simultaneously tell a complete story in those 5 pages, while also establishing a vast space operatic world and its jargon, and focusing on larger character arcs. The fact that it by-and-large worked is frankly a miracle.

I will say, when I was first dropped into the world of Halo Jones, I found it to be pretty overwhelming. The story is broken into three separate "books," each of which tell a fairly complete story on their own. The first book has to do the vast majority of the heavy lifting in terms of world-building, and again, it has 5-page constraints. As such, Moore dumps a LOT of stuff into the first story. We learn that Halo Jones is a relatively normal, unremarkable woman living in a place called "The Hoop," a giant circular housing facility for the unemployed. Everyone speaks in futuristic slang, a lot of which is almost incomprehensible, and day-to-day life in the Hoop is chaotic, otherworldly, and, honestly, under-explored. Add in the fact that Moore alternates between Douglas Adams-esque satire and more serious sci-fi fare, and you're left with a mostly-confusing mess.

But then the second book starts, and I loved it. All of it. Once Moore moves beyond the Hoop in Book Two, and Halo starts adventuring on her own, everything just kind of clicks. All the setup you were fed in Book One, all the subtle references and underlying satire, the motivations of characters you barely had time to pay attention to, it all suddenly makes sense. I don't know how he and Gibson did it, but I was truly amazed at how well everything suddenly fit together. It helps that he moves away from the constant, indecipherable slang, opting to pepper it in occasionally with plenty of context clues, but still. It's a real feat of storytelling.

Then, Book Three hammers it all home. All of the Adamsian satire falls away in favor of much bleaker anti-war fare, and after having two full stories establishing that this vision of the future is pretty dark already, it really feels earned. This feels like Moore coming into his own and taking things a little more seriously, taking a knife to Robert Heinlein's jingoist Starship Troopers in the process.

I highly recommend reading this, if you're a fan of Moore or not. There are tons of ideas in here that feel fresh and interesting even today, thanks in large part to their excellent execution. It's also truly impressive that a comic written for a heavily-male magazine like 2000 AD in the 80s is so packed with female characters. Very few other creators were doing things like this back then, and that's probably part of why it still feels fresh in 2018.
76 reviews3 followers
November 6, 2007
I was lent this in the form of old 2000AD issues, all printed on newsprint before I was born. It was quite a special reading experience.

The first story shows us Halo at eighteen, living in the slums of 'The Hoop', an artificial city in the middle of the Atlantic. It starts off quite light-heartedly, though Halo's world is quite dystopian, and it's hard to define where that sense of humour comes from. Life on the Hoop is going nowhere, but it's not until she loses two of her best friends - one murdered, the other simply giving up - that Halo hardens her resolve to get out. She and her remaining friend Rodice leave, but jobs are few, and Halo gets the one they can find, hostessing job on a beautiful antique ship - thanks to her seriously uncool ability to speak Cetacean. This is where it feels like the story gets started, the first book giving Halo the impetus to leave - with an agreement to meet up with Rodice in a year's time, in a bar on another world.

I was surprised to find I'd read Book 2 before, at the library it must have been, because I remember things. I remember the dolphin navigator, I remember the boy-girl Glyph whom no-one notices, and the rat-king with all his tails twirled together. I even remember the end of that story, when Halo has reached the bar, says to the barkeep, "Play it again, Yortlebluzzgubbly." I remember double-checking she got his name right, because I did it again. It's very odd, rereading things you'd forgotten about.

In the third book, Halo is a lot older, and having run out of options, joins the army. We are already aware of the war going on in the Tarantula Nebula; now we see it, and it's not pretty.

I enjoyed the whole thing very much. I like being thrown into such well-thought out science fiction worlds - you can tell how well-thought out it is, with things mentioned that you don't expect to matter, but that help form the fabric of the world. And maybe they end up mattering a lot. It's a bit confusing to be thrown into at first, because you're not told anything - but you're shown it, and I think that's the best way it could have been done. I expect it would hold up well to re-readings.

The writing isn't always so subtle as it is in portraying the worldbuilding; some things are overstated - dialogue that goes on emphasising the way Halo and her roommate aren't even aware of Glyph's existance amongst them - though Glyph saves Halo twice. It's the comment on what's going on that overdoes it. It happens with the war too, the telling when all we really need is to be shown what happens. There's no fear of killing people off, certainly. But you can excuse the occasional heavy-handediness because it mostly is very well told.

Generally I am not a big fan of Alan Moore; I think he is too literary for me (he he). Halo Jones being some of his earlier work probably helps there. It reminds me more of Paul Hope's sci-fi than anything else of Moore's; I think because of the worldbuilding. A 'bigger' story, though - one episode implies Halo ends up a historical figure, with books being written about her. It makes me wonder what else they had planned. Alas! I shall never know. But the three books there are are definitely worth the ride.
Profile Image for Zedsdead.
1,141 reviews72 followers
August 21, 2016
Future spacewoman Halo Jones, sick of life in her space-trailer park, sets off into the galaxy seeking excitement and space-adventure. I DNF'd after 17 busy, cramped pages.

The thick-lined black and white art is overdone, every page annoyingly crowded with ink. Take a step back and it looks like a book of those magic-eye hidden-image posters that were ubiquitous 20 years ago. Terry Moore this is not.

Halo Jones practices a certain dialogue convention in comics that drives me nuts. Two or three random words in every word balloon are heavily bolded for no apparent reason. It looks like simple emphasis, but too often emphasizing the bolded words makes no sense. And like the rest of the illustration, the bolding is overdone.

"I ought to BITE your squidgy little FACE off. And if she's played those TAPES, I think I WILL."
"Ludy's staying home to practice her DOTA. She'll SEED it for me to watch later."

Moore tries to future up the language--which I approve of--but does so with simplistic word substitutions. I found it grating.
*"Rearscene" for backstage
*"Blue-hot" for red-hot
*"Glombies" for zombies

I feel blasphemous saying this, but...I think I'm losing my taste for Alan Moore.
Profile Image for Anthea.
41 reviews
April 26, 2020
As a young woman I was never sure if I was really 2000ADs target audience, so when I started reading Halo Jones week by week, however many years (decades!) ago now, I was extremely and pleasantly surprised. The story of a young woman, dissatisfied with everyday life, undefined by male relationships, wanting more but not condemned for it seemed quite brilliant. Casual references to menstruation and lesbianism were almost shocking (in a good way). Many years later, I still love this book and the characters, I still well up at the dolphin's comments on war, and I still hope going 'just out' made Halo happy.
Profile Image for Ian.
691 reviews10 followers
March 5, 2012
I had to delete the phrase "surprisingly good" from this review because it really shouldn't be surprising that a collection of supershort black and white sci-fi comics from the early 80's are actually quite good (this is Alan Moore we're talking about here). Reminiscent of Joe Haldeman's "Forever War" but with a stronger emphasis on gender politics, it's kitschy and dated, but in a sort of charming way.
Profile Image for Roberto Diaz.
543 reviews3 followers
January 11, 2016
A space opera that tells the story of a woman confined to a life in the prison of her own everyday, untill she decides to go out to the stars. Not an all around happy-go-lucky adventure, but a glimpse into different periods of the life of a woman that did everything she could, because she decided to take the risk to get out.
Profile Image for Matthew Pennell.
188 reviews6 followers
October 5, 2021
Not as intelligent as some of Moore's other works of the era, but makes up for it with some inventive world-building and fun manipulation of language in the 50th century. It's a shame they never managed to continue the series beyond the first three books.
Profile Image for Sophie.
2,483 reviews106 followers
November 7, 2010
It took me a bit to get into this comic, but I'm glad I kept reading. Set in the future, it's the story of Halo Jones, who grows up in what's basically a slum, then leaves it all behind to go into space, but her life doesn't necessarily improve. The slang Alan Moore uses here can be a bit.. much, but I loved Halo Jones and the other female characters.
Profile Image for Koen Claeys.
1,269 reviews19 followers
October 12, 2019
Moore and Gibson planned 10 books covering Halo Jones life but ‘due to external circumstances and considerations’ this title left us with the open ending of book 3. I know why this is an important comic book and although I was impressed with Alan Moore’s idea’s and Gibson’s artwork I didn’t enjoy the reading experience as much as I hoped to.
Profile Image for Elisabeth.
458 reviews16 followers
July 24, 2019
This was possibly the coolest graphic novel I’ve ever read. What fun. Thinking of purchasing a copy even, so I can thumb through it whenever I wish.
Profile Image for Paul Spence.
1,193 reviews60 followers
April 1, 2020
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.

The 2018 edition is a small format version. Personally, I'd go for the older larger formats but if you are short of cash then get this one as you do not want to miss out on this 2000AD classic.

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.
Profile Image for Rob.
86 reviews4 followers
June 15, 2016
This is simply amazing! Literally! It takes an absolutely ordinary character with no real talents or powers and writes her story in such a way that it becomes larger than life. It’s what comic books/graphic novels are really all about, at least from this reader’s point of view. For, at heart, I feel that one of the main reasons why anyone cracks one of these open is to transfer their ordinary life onto the pages of these fantastical illustrations that somehow briefly becomes their own, if but for a moment. Here, the margin from the reality of the average life is narrowed that much more in the character of a regular gal named Halo Jones and in the process becomes more even more accessible in this particular regard. Albeit, far removed in the future with aliens, space travel and technology that is well beyond our own.

Overall, Alan Moore is a huge talent whose accomplishments are well known to most of us already. Even those are somehow unfamiliar with his name at this point have at least unknowingly watched a few of the many film adaptations of his work. He’s scary good and much deserving of his reputation. Particularly so in the case of this series, which was abandoned midway and never completed and yet still manages to draw one into it so skillfully that you forgive its few minor faults of silliness as well as the with foreknowledge that you there is no real resolution or ending to it.

Although this leading us down a path to nowhere is an unforgivable crime, how this came about is completely understandable, as well as just another reason why Moore is so beloved. It’s his integrity and status as an underground champion that is at the heart of the matter here. You see, the company that originally issued these books had sole rights to all stories and characters that Moore created and in protest he stopped work on this project until a new contract more in his favor could be negotiated. All of us are still waiting some thirty years later.

So, who can really blame him for wanting control and ownership over his own work? For perspective, just think of the early rock ‘n’ roll and blues artists and how they all lost millions over their brilliant creations in a similar way. Rather than call Moore greedy and unreasonable let’s just agree to find fault with the real culprit and shit all over the publishing company instead, shall we?

Subsequently, only three out of a projected five books of this series were ever published before all the trouble with legalities put an end to it all. The saga of the unemployed and unskilled Halo was meant to follow her life from youth to old age. This is something that is by itself is an interesting premise for this genre alone. Sadly, all we have of her story is her life up her mid thirties…but what a ride it is! Also, Ian Gibson’s wonderful black and white illustrations are considered among his best work here as well.

The first book of this series merely seems concerned with setting the stage and didn’t necessarily grip me by its story, which I found somewhat meandering and bordering on pointless for all the action that DOES NOT take place here. There’s also the fact that there is an entirely different slang used here that you have to grow accustomed to, as well as the same for the overall foreign environment and setting of this story with all of their futuristic alien names. Rather than explaining it all through some all-knowing narrator, or similar device, Moore just shows us through actions. The back-story flashbacks eventually happen but only in the later books.

If you’re like me, acclimating to these things could try ones patience to the point of losing it. Initially, I even thought that this was going to be the one thing I was going to hate of Moore’s but I kept reading it regardless and I’m glad I did. Overall, this author is not necessarily interested in pleasing or accommodating the fickle tastes of the average comic book reader. He seems to write merely to suit himself and if we are willing to follow him I think that this nearly always pays off.

Things become much more livelier by the second book and there are some intriguing premises and classic story devices used here that kept my interest. Of course, almost anything would have been an improvement over the first one. Here, near Shakespearean or classic Greek drama of love, betrayal, and something called a rat king are introduced. Also, by this time the jarring and unfamiliar slang starts becoming more understandable and for me even warmly embraced.

In book three all the stops are pulled out and this story starts to really take off. Halo enters a complete downward spiral of depression and alcoholism over her lack of direction in life that eventually leads her to the desperation of enlisting in the galactic army. This takes her to some interesting but yet familiar alien territory that one can readily recognize as either extra-terrestrial versions of Vietnam or Korea, take your pick. After some harrowing experiences as a foot soldier Halo has a complete mental breakdown and once she eventually recovers she begrudgingly re-enlists again with no other options available to her. For at this point in her life, this is the only occupation she is fit or qualified for, let alone among the few even available to her.

From here on out, the science used here in regards to the concept of time is absolutely spectacular and mind-blowing and the handling of this is just one of the many reasons why Moore is so revered. Moreover, his main characters start to become fleshed out more fully and even the minor ones start to become more interesting as well. Moore’s understanding of a pace of a story is simply masterful here.

Of course then it all ends. If I could be so bold as to suppose where some of this may have been heading, I would guess that whatever was in store for us in the next books would have been built around a confusion of reality and fantasy stemming from Halo’s previous mental breakdown. The seeds of this seem to be planted in this last book but beyond this there really is no telling where this story could have gone in the hands of such an incredible artist and sadly we may never know. Overall, I think this is still so good that you’ll find yourself wanting to know exactly how this story DOESN’T end for yourself and I highly recommend that you do with absolutely no reservations.
Profile Image for DC Allen.
Author 1 book20 followers
May 29, 2021
An old-fashioned space opera told from the point of view of a space waif clinging to the bottom rung of space society. The tone ranges from Oliver Twist to Full Metal Jacket. Alan Moore's gift for clever narration is evident but the ending is a big let down. By the last page, Halo Jones the character has barely accomplished anything, making me wonder why there is a ballad about her, and why her life is being studied and celebrated two hundred years in her future, according to one framing chapter. It's obvious that there was supposed to be more to her story, and without that arc, what there is is unsatisfying.
The artwork is kind of a mixed bag. On one hand the artist is the master of drawing the contrapposto figure, but on the other he seems to have skipped all head-drawing classes. Every character has the same unappealing face and the same stiff expression: hooded eyes, catfish frown, and oddly-rendered cheeks. The alien designs are pretty cheesy too.
I love Alan Moore but I wouldn't consider this essential reading.
Profile Image for Simon.
886 reviews7 followers
December 1, 2023
This is such an important comic, and arguably one of Moore's best things. Is it better than Watchmen and V For Vendetta? That's a debate, but I think it's definitely more important.

It was the first time as far as I can recall that somebody in comics took a story about just this kid, this teenaged girl, living in the future, and said okay let's just tell the story of her life. She's not anybody special, she's not got any powers, she's not particularly smart or strong or anything. She's just a young woman, who winds up going to war, and becoming a woman with PTSD.

And okay book 1 isn't great, but books 2 and 3 are amazing. What a tragedy that we never got books 4 thru 7. It is the classic feminist sci-fi story, the very archetype of the classic feminist sci-fi story.
Profile Image for Justin Partridge.
244 reviews3 followers
May 9, 2023
“Maybe being dead is a skill we’ll need later in life.”

Oh MAN y’all. This thing…was incredible. I’m kicking myself it’s taken me this long to get into it properly. But since I’ve been on a bit of a 2000AD kick lately I figured I should go ahead.

And HOLY CROW am I glad I did. This is like Moore at the peak of his powers and every page of Gibson’s artwork is exquisitely weird and spacey. I almost can’t even say more about it. I can’t even articulate how good and devastating and beautiful it is with a mere review.

Just get it. I’m damn sure going to. My library had a really handsome edition but this it too good to not just have around.
Profile Image for Piotr.
41 reviews
April 29, 2020
If not for certain, little archaic, punkish elements of worldbuilding and slightly out-of-date art choices probably nobody would guess the age of that story. I mean, to see the struggle of a girl, trying to get out of old life and find place of her own, facing the loss of loved ones, her principles and innocence, taken from her by the world, where powerful and rich do whatever they want, while poor dies nameless in Godforsaken world, still going foreward despite pain...

Good thing it just SF! Like, just a fiction, right?

Profile Image for Paul Cowdell.
117 reviews6 followers
August 31, 2020
4.5. Back in the days when Alan Moore's satire and seriousness were still light in the air and nimble on their feet came this feminist space opera. It's clever, it's humane, and it's terrific. Its influence is probably worth pursuing, too, but I don't want to think about Martha Washington as an anti-Halo Jones right now. I'd rather just savour this story about a woman who went out, and did everything.
Profile Image for Beatriz Aguilar Gallo.
Author 18 books44 followers
December 17, 2018
En esta historia acompañamos a Halo Jones es sus aventuras por el universo. A priori parece que Halo va a tener una historia normal y corriente, pero con el paso de los capítulos descubrimos que las cosas no son tan simples. Lo leí sin saber muy bien qué esperar y me ha sorprendido para bien.
Profile Image for Anthony O'Connor.
Author 2 books33 followers
July 16, 2023
This is probably the fifth or sixth time I've read the full collection over the years and I'm always struck by the sense of humanity and longing for meaning Moore imparts. The first book is always a bit slow moving and divisive, but once it gets cooking this is classic stuff and one of the most memorable yarns in all of 2000AD's excellent, talent-rich history.

Part of me pines for the story to be finished as Moore and Ian Gibson intended but what's here is pretty bloody great. It'd make a great TV show too, just quietly.
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