“Relax. I’ve got a sputstik in my zippit. Guaranteed safe passage.”
The final major work that Alan Moore created during his time working for UK publishers on 2000AD is also possibly the most accomplished and surprisingly little heralded. Those who have read it tend to love it, but it’s often overshadowed by his other ’80s work. The Ballad of Halo Jones by Moore, Ian Gibson, Steve Potter, and Richard Starkings is kind of a bridge between the short, darkly humorous thrills of “Future Shocks” and “DR & Quinch” and the more serious, politically charged works like V for Vendetta, resulting in a perfect synthesis of entertainment and commentary that’s hard to manage. All following the life of a young woman in the distant future who just wanted to live her life.
The serials are organized into three books. The first introduces us to Halo Jones, her friends, and her life on the Hoop, a kind of ring station moored off the coast of New York City. It feels like a sci-fi take on growing up either in the mod scene or possibly punk in Thatcher’s England, and the horrors of a shopping trip. Moore does some very interesting things with language in this first book, crafting some new slang and speech patterns for the future. It’s not as pronounced in the later instalments, though he does tackle another attempt at futurespeak in Crossed +100.
The second book is a bit harder to pin down, with Halo taking a job aboard a starship liner and dealing with unwanted affections. It kind of emphasis the everygirl nature of Halo and how this series can really take any form. And the third about the horrors of war, post-traumatic stress disorder, and dealing with what happens after the war is over. Along with a bit of commentary on what feels like an analogue to Vietnam. It’s a lot of interesting incidental material all throughout that builds a rich mosaic for the story.
All of it beautifully illustrated by Ian Gibson. Gibson uses a style here that reminds me of Moebius, Walter Simonson, June Brigman, and Bret Blevins, fine-lined with some interesting curved shapes for clothing and faces, with some very beautiful cross-hatched shadows. Maybe even a little Joe Staton, because Gibson’s characters are fairly unique in shape and facial features, they’re exaggerated and fascinating. It only gets better as the series progresses, with some very interesting layouts in book three.
The lettering for the first two books is handled by Steve Potter. Changing styles for the robo-dog Toby, mixed-case for Halo’s journaling, and the broadcast voice for Swifty Frisko. Book three is lettered by Richard Starkings, introducing some interesting inset narration boxes bleeding into the gutters of the page, similar to how John Workman’s boxes often divide panels when he’s working with Walter Simonson.
It’s a shame that there was never a fourth book or beyond for Halo Jones, because it feels like stories with her could have been endless. She’s also very unique in both 2000AD‘s canon and Moore’s catalogue. The Ballad of Halo Jones by Moore, Gibson, Potter, and Starkings is an enthralling adventure of a woman who just wanted out to go everywhere.
Classic Comic Compendium: The Ballad of Halo Jones
The Ballad of Halo Jones
Writer: Alan Moore
Artist: Ian Gibson
Letterers: Steve Potter & Richard Starkings
Comic legend Alan Moore’s highly-influential classic of British comics, presented to a new generation coloured and remastered for the very first time! Bored and frustrated with her life in 50th-century leisure-ghetto housing estate The Hoop, 18-year-old everywoman Halo Jones yearns for the infinite sights and sounds of the universe. Pledging to escape on a fantastic voyage, she sets in motion events unimaginable; a spell on a luxury space-liner, a brush with an interstellar war – Halo Jones faces hardship and adventure in the name of freedom in the limitless cosmos. A galaxy-spanning story, comics’ first bona fide feminist space opera, and the first true epic to grace the bibliography of arguably the greatest comic book writer the world has ever known. The first in a brand-new prestige format series collecting the utterly compelling and groundbreakingly ambitious classic.
Release Date: May 8 2013 (complete black & white edition)
Read past entries in the Classic Comic Compendium!