Keep Singing, Halo Jones!

The Ballad of Halo Jones – Alan Moore and Ian Gibson

Where did she go? Out. What did she do? Everything

Last week I read the 2000 AD comic book The Ballad of Halo Jones written by Alan Moore with art by Ian Gibson. While this was the first 2000 AD comic book I’ve ever read (I haven’t even seen the film of Judge Dredd) I’m more than familiar with the work of Alan Moore*, and, it transpired, I have read a book with art by Ian Gibson, Boba Fett: Enemy of the Empire. I don’t recall enjoying his art quite as much then as I did in Halo Jones, however. Perhaps it was because this was a world of his own imagining, not a version of an already familiar universe (as, at the time, I would have been very familiar with the Star Wars universe).

It transpires that you don’t actually have to know anything about the “2000 AD universe”, as no such universe exists. Halo Jones is a unique, solitary story in an amazing, detailed world, where the human race has colonized the galaxy long enough ago that some of the original colonists have evolved due to the extreme gravity on their planet. The world of Halo Jones is so fully realised by its creators that it even has a future, a few millennia hence, in which Halo Jones has become a figure of historical interest. This opening to Book 2, of which I was wary at first but which has become warmly remembered, is a wonderful bit of storytelling. All it reveals is that the future of Halo Jones will be interesting, and worth reading. Well, of course. Book One was great, Two and Three continue the trend. If only there had been the chance for some more**. . .

Halo is a great character, growing over the decade-and-a-bit in which the books are set, but remaining determined and forceful, despite her apparent lack of control over her own future. While it could hardly be said that she has a great deal of freedom, she makes all of her choices herself, even if coerced by circumstance. The roster of secondary characters is also good, Toby the robot dog is a particular favourite (especially for his artwork), and “Lucky” Mona Jukes. Which isn’t to say that this is character-based: the world of the Hoop, and Moab, the world with ridiculously strong gravity, are detailed and brilliant creations. Good stories with good characters in good settings: perfect.

It says something about the reputation of Alan Moore that no-one seems to blame him that Halo Jones wasn’t able to continue exploring the universe. I haven’t read fully the details of the story, but it’s on the wikipedia page of the book, and I just scanned over it whilst getting that link. It seems as if Moore was on the side of right, probably, but could easily be cast as greedy and unworkable, demanding too much from the publishers than they could give. I like Moore, so I’m willing to side with him, but you do have to wonder if, for example, Ian Gibson wasn’t a bit disappointed when the falling out occurred.

The Ballad of Halo Jones ends well enough that I’m happy, and no story arcs appear to be left open; unlike many other examples of series cancelled before their time. You could almost believe that this was it, such is the nature of the story of Halo, which is more an exploration of her and her world than a continuing narrative. This means that it is certainly worth reading, and not disappointing or unfulfilling. If I hadn’t discovered that 2000 AD stories are set in many different worlds I would have definitely gone out of my way to read some more; as it stands now I would like to do so, if I were given some pointers and recommendations.

* And I even met the man:

He even signed my copy of V for Vendetta 🙂

** Or even, “Moore” ho ho ho.

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2 thoughts on “Keep Singing, Halo Jones!

  1. The Ballad of Halo Jones was one of the first “grown up” comics that I read (at age 11 or so) and it had a huge influence on my tastes in comics and sci-fi in the years to come. The first episode I read was “Fleurs Du Mall” which pretty much sums up what was so great about the series – ie, how ordinary and unheroic Halo was. In a magazine full of genetically-engineered super soldiers and dystopian lawmen and mutant bounty hunters, here was this simple (and quite odd) little story about two teenage girls and their robot dog going to a 50th century shopping mall and missing their bus home – and yet it was strangely riveting. It only got better from there, of course.

    Twenty-something years on, I’m one of the sad old die-hards who still hopes that Moore and IPC can mutually get over it and revive the series. I think Ian Gibson’s always maintained that he’d come back to draw more of Halo’s story if Moore ever wrote it. I can’t see it realistically happening, but it’s a nice

    • It’s the great thing about comics which isn’t true of TV shows like (for example) Firefly: were they to decide to work together and produce some more, they could and it wouldn’t matter. The issue is, as ever, rights; I suppose it could be feasible that someone could hand them over to Moore and Gibson and that might provoke something, but who knows quite how Alan Moore’s mind works? And how would Halo have changed in two or more decades?

      I wish that I had read some 2000AD as a child. I grew up with Sonic the Comic as my main comic book, and then some Star Wars comics (where I was introduced to Ian Gibson, of course). Still, it seems as if 2000AD is something it’s perfectly possible to get into as an adult, so I will be looking for more in the future!

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