The Ballad Of Halo Jones graphic novel review

Alan Moore and Ian Gibson’s Ballard Of Halo Jones is back with an intro from Lauren Beukes

For the new reader of the cult 2000 AD strip, Arthur C Clarke Award-winning author Lauren Beukes sums up the essence of Halo Jones in the foreword; a woman who is not a superhero or a princess, a girl born into the working class with no great aspirations.

It’s the story of an ordinary young woman who decides to put herself out into the bigger universe and struggles with the consequences. It’s one of the bravest stories 2000 AD ever told, collected in this new deluxe hardcover.

In the early Eighties, Alan Moore was vocal in wanting to bring a woman-led story to the sci-fi anthology. Halo Jones was to be the story of a woman in the future, not particularly heroic or remarkable, but a star nonetheless.

The lack of heroism is somewhat fitting for an anthology best known for the antihero Judge Dredd, but Moore was also attempting to do more, to break down the stereotypes of women in comics where female characters would often be portrayed as half-naked and as an adornment to the male cast.

Halo Jones broke the mould, and was a success with readers male and female alike. In later years it rose to cult status, the collection being reprinted over and over, each time gathering a new generation of fans.

A cracking sci-fi adventure story in a realistic yet mind-boggling future universe of interstellar travel and all too familiar wars, Halo’s tale is told in three distinct volumes. Originally planned as a nine-book epic, her ballad was cut short due to a falling out between Moore and the magazine’s publishers; a tragedy for all her fans.

The first book takes place on Earth, in the destitute gigantic housing estate named The Hoop. 18-years old, Halo is already itching to explore the wider world and escape her surroundings, which are dominated by deadly riots and sinister cults. Dark as it is, book one is filled with humour as well as tragedy, and eventually Halo secures passage to the stars. Book two follows her passage on a year-long space voyage as a hostess, grappling with both betrayal and unveiling plot points that will resonate later in her life. The third and final instalment – the darkest of all – plunges Halo into the war that has been the background of the entire series.

As Halo matures, so does the art, though it should be noted that the cover image on this newest collection is not Gibson’s, a move that has caused consternation amongst some fans. The new cover will however help appeal to yet another generation of young Halo fans, and allow it to stand proud amongst its contemporary peers. Halo Jones, drawn as a strong woman, an ordinary woman and everyday girl, is perhaps still in comics-land very ahead of her time.