I must have written a dozen reviews for The Ballad of Halo Jones in my life and have probably read this series a hundred times or more. That’s because of one simple reason: The Ballad of Halo Jones is that damn good, and is probably the best comic book series of all time. That so few people seem to even be aware of its existence is ridiculous.
It’s certainly the best one ever written by Alan Moore, which is quite an achievement in itself. This is the man who wrote Watchmen, V For Vendetta and From Hell, after all. The man whose run on Swamp Thing is legendary, and who introduced the character of John Constantine to the world. Yet, for all of that, The Ballad of Halo Jones is an achievement unlike any other. If you don’t believe me, ask Neil Gaiman. Or, better still, read Halo Jones’s story for yourself.
Not that you’d quite know what makes her story so special based on this first volume. But, like with much of Moore’s work, you can almost sense it even from the beginning.
Welcome to The Hoop! As the 50th century’s leading location for employment-challenged citizens, it’s a melting pot of humans, aliens and robots where dreams can come true!
Sadly, for teenage girl Halo Jones, she only has one dream: To get out. It’s a dream that looks unlikely to ever come true. The Hoop, despite being an architectural achievement, is mostly a giant housing estate for the homeless and where even the simple act of going shopping can become a fight for life. There are few options open to the citizens of the Hoop, and the general mood of the average resident is that they’ll be there forever, never having achieved anything. Halo’s friend Ludy hopes to one day find fame as a musician, while the strong-willed Rodice is unwilling to bring about change.
Halo, meanwhile, simply tries to survive and continues to dream – until events in her life take a tragic turn…
The tale catapults readers right into the deep end of this almost unimaginable world with no excuses made for the unusual slang spoken by the characters, little explanation of the strange inhabitants of the Hoop, or the variety of bizarre incidents which are happening all around. As disorientating as that is, it’s never uncomfortable because of Halo Jones herself – a young woman who isn’t anyone special. She makes everything better.
Halo Jones isn’t that brave, that clever or that strong. She isn’t some feisty “badass” heroine or a forced political statement. She’s an everywoman character who longs for a life beyond the confines of her environment. As the series progressed her adventure continued, the scope of it taking her from her humble beginnings to being a pivotal figure in an interstellar war and beyond. However, this first volume only shows the first initial steps in her incredible journey. It starts out slowly and picks up the pace at a gradual rate… but by the time it’s ended, it’s almost impossible to not want to read more.
For all the praise heaped on Alan Moore regarding Halo Jones, equal credit must be given to artist Ian Gibson whose visuals bring this series to life and who did more than his fair share of world-building. The only reason why the grade on the art here isn’t higher is because in later volumes it’s even better, so please don’t dismiss it because of that.
Some fans may wonder why another release of Halo Jones is necessary, given how all three volumes having been collected together before – especially since the last full collection released was just months ago and this version only contains volume 1. Firstly, there are a couple of small extra features not seen in other collected versions for quite a while. However, the real factor is that this version is in colour, courtesy of Barbara Nosenzo. While some may balk at that thought and have a love for the classic highly defined black and white, the job done here is stunning and fits with the source material seamlessly.
If you’ve never read The Ballad of Halo Jones before, then you really should pick this up. It’s a groundbreaking masterpiece in every way. It isn’t about superheroes, Infinity Stones or Mother Boxes; This volume is about a young unemployed woman who has to go to the store to buy groceries – and it’s still one of the most amazing comic books you’ll ever read.