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Comic Book / The Ballad of Halo Jones

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Halo: I'm going out.
Rodice: Out? Out of where?
Halo: Out of everywhere.
Rodice: But, listen, the problems will still be here when we get back...
Halo: Who said anything about coming back?

Considered by some to be Alan Moore's magnum opus, and also his most famous incomplete work, The Ballad of Halo Jones is a trilogy of stories written by Moore and drawn by Ian Gibson that feature the life of a young working class woman who went on to become a legend.

Planned to run nine volumes, with each volume skipping ten years in her life to show Halo at different points in her existence, only the first three volumes were completed and published in 2000 AD. The serial was abandoned due to disputes between Moore and the publisher over ownership rights to the characters.

Warning: spoilers follow.

Halo Jones is an 18-year-old living in futuristic floating housing estate on Earth called "The Hoop." The Hoop is filled with the poor, beggars, Proximans, and a strange cult called the Different Drummers (who have an implant which generates a perpetual drumbeat in their heads that occasionally make them violent). Halo, along with her friend and house-mate Rodice and mechanical dog bodyguard Toby, traverse the Hoop and get into various adventures in trying to buy food for their other house-mate Brinna, who shelters them. Hilarity Ensues as they encounter various obstacles to getting home, but they finally get home in one find Brinna murdered and their other house-mate Ludy joining the Different Drummer cult. With no place to live, Halo announces her decision to go into space.

Book Two features a Time Skip as Halo is working as a hostess about a space cruise ship, with fellow hostess and roommate Toy and the Invisible to Normals Glyph, various events happen. The first hints of a war in the Tarantula Nebula emerge and it's revealed Toby killed Brinna because he loves Halo and wanted to be with her. The book ends on a cliffhanger, revealing that Halo is destined to become a great war hero.

Book Three begins after another Time Skip, showing various occupations Halo was in after she left the Clara Pandy. She ends up, ten years later, on the planet Pwuc "where the Catsblood never runs out but the dreams do." There, she meets Toy again, who persuades her to join the army, currently engaged in brutal guerrilla war in the Tarantula Nebula. As a part of Platoon B, Halo sees the horrors of war, as most of her platoon mates die, culminating in the death of Toy. Halo quits the army after that, but with nothing to do and no job, she starts to go crazy and reenlists. And then gets sent to Warzone 1, the planet Moab, where the intense gravity does strange things to time, where the battles last five minutes and two months, and where Halo meets General Cannibal. As the war ends, Halo discovers her inadvertent complicity in Gen Cannibal's war crimes, kills him and is last seen stealing his spaceship to take her off to new adventures.

This comic contains examples of:

  • Aborted Declaration of Love: Toy. When she tries to perform a Dying Declaration of Love, Halo fails to take the hint and thinks they're talking about their friendship. Toy decides not to clarify and dies soon after.
  • Action Girl: Halo is a subversion. Even when she becomes a soldier, she doesn't fight much—most of it is running around, trying not to get shot. Moore said that he wanted her to be normal and had "no inclination to unleash yet another Tough Bitch With A Disintegrator And An Extra 'Y' Chromosome upon the world."
  • And the Adventure Continues: The ending of the series/book three. Halo boards a ship she has stolen, to continue to explore outer space and build upon the legend that we learn she will blaze through history at the end of book two.
  • Born Lucky: This is what people say about Private Mona Jukes, who only manages to avoid being killed several times because of her extreme unluckiness.
  • Coming of Age: A really dark coming of age story. Halo's journey into maturity is forced by Brinna's death.
  • Child Soldiers: The Loyos Lobo Fann terrorist that Platoon B kill is only eleven. The Platoon, however, afterwards talk her to up so that "by the time we got back to base, she had practically died of old age."
  • Distant Finale: There was foreshadowing that this device would be used, with a scene set in a university history lecture several thousand years after the events of the main story discussing Halo's significance as a historical character/folk hero. However, the comic was, unfortunately, never finished.
  • Dystopia: The Hoop, but then again the whole galaxy is swarming with terrorists, cyberpunk gangs and warfare.
  • Eye Scream: It's apparently standard military training to learn how to put an enemy's eyes out with your thumbs.
  • False Reassurance: Halo enlists in an army that assures new recruits that most soldiers never see combat. Later, when she's jumping with a parachute from a plane into the battlefield, she's told that if she's lucky, she will be one of the few whose parachute works.
  • Fantastic Ghetto: New York has designated areas for the the Proximan alien refugees where humans aren't allowed. The title comes from The Hoop, a floating, hoop-shaped conurbation full of unemployed humans and Proximans that's tethered to Manhattan.
  • Flash Forward: We get one several centuries ahead of the main story's timeline. Here, in what appears to be a utopia, a history professor lectures his students on Halo's adventures back in the 51st century. It ends with him expressing his feelings and longing for the centuries-dead woman.
  • Funetik Aksent: The man Halo approaches about a potential job aboard the Clara Pandy has an extremely strong accent, which is rendered via phonetic spellings in Speech Bubbles. Rodice can't understand a word of it.
  • The Future: The 51st Century. Practically 3000 years away from now.
  • Future Slang: So much so that some of the herdience can find it tricky to get into at first. Cheeses, though, it's worth the effort.
  • George Lucas Altered Version: The Ballad of Halo Jones was originally published in black and white (as was most of 2000 AD at that time). As of Rebellion's 2023 collected edition it's now in full colour, with Barbara Nosenzo colouring Ian Gibson's original 1980s art.
  • He Knows Too Much: Discussed in book two, as the Rat King warns (or threatens) Halo that if she tells anyone else about the King's existence, she will be killed.
  • Invisible to Normals: Glyph, who has so many gender switches that he/she had their personality erased and nobody can even remember them.
  • Love-Interest Traitor: Near the end of book three, Halo starts a relationship with General Luiz Cannibal. After Earth's government falls, he's accused of war crimes by the new regime and denies the charges, saying that a Kangaroo Court is making him The Scapegoat. Halo realises that the allegations are true, and that (long before they met) she was unknowingly complicit in his plan to use 'ratwar' - rat-controlled plagues - to kill an entire world's population. She secretly sabotages his gravity suit so that he'll be crushed to death on the surface of Moab.
  • Love Makes You Evil: Toby the robot guard dog murders his owner Brinna, staging the scene to look like a break-in gone wrong. When Halo listens to audio from his old memory tapes and hears Brinna dying, she asks herself why he did it. Toby promptly appears in the room and says it's because he loves Halo, and because Brinna left him to Halo in her will.
  • Orphaned Series: Book three delivers a fairly satisfying conclusion, but it's only a third of the way through Moore and Gibson's original arc. The Ballad of Halo Jones was work for hire, and is owned by 2000 AD's current owners, who could theoretically continue it with a different creative team - but, as of 2023, they have chosen not to.
  • Overly Long Name: The Proximen have to buy words to add to their names, making name length an indicator of class. A Proximan in a position of political power, for instance, is called 'Procurator Bandaged Ice That Stampedes Inexpensively Through A Scribbled Morning Waving Necessary Ankles', whereas one encountered by the heroine at a bus stop tells her, "Name is Snivelling. When can afford second word in name, will be Snivelling Earthquake."
  • Perception Filter: Glyph had their sex changed so often they ended up with a gender-neutral body and this ability. While they find it much easier to get whatever they want (being able to bypass a checkout counter and so on), they are very lonely since they can't turn off this 'power'.
  • Rat King: Halo signs up in the Army to fight a deadly war on an alien planet. She discovers the heart of the supercomputer directing Earth's war effort is a malevolent and superintelligent Rat King plugged into the network as its CPU.
  • Recruiters Always Lie: There's a whole chapter dedicated to this trope, where Halo re-reads her recruitment pamphlet as ironic narration to a flashback montage of her training. When the montage ends, it's shown she's on a drop ship in a spacesuit, about to be deployed, right after she's found the spot in the pamphlet she remembered where it said 40% of recruits never see combat.
    Halo: How come we've been sent to a war-zone so soon? It says here forty per cent never see combat!
    Sarge: Those figures are perfectly accurate, Jones. But don't worry... maybe you'll be one of the lucky sixty per cent whose chute suit actually opens.
  • Sapient Cetaceans: The Cetaceans, sentient dolphins, are the only ones that can navigate hyperspace.
  • Shameful Source of Knowledge: At the end of book one, Halo gets a job on the space liner Clara Pandy because she can speak Cetacean. When challenged by Rodice she admits she learned it as a member of the (deeply uncool) Ritit Rikti Fan Club, but didn't want anyone to know that she was a teenage Aqua-Boppette.
    Rodice: You're confessing to being in the Ritit Rikti Fan Club? Just to get this job? This really means a lot to you, doesn't it?
  • Shout-Out:
    • One of the shows Brinna watches during book one is "John Cage, Atonal Avenger".
    • After Rodice gets caught downwind of her own sputstik, one of her might-have-been muggers comments on the "Jackson Pollock spatter-effect" of her vomiting.
  • Space Marine: Averted. Most of the soldiers are hapless conscripts with inadequate training. Even those who prove competent fighters have no capabilities beyond those of a contemporary soldier. The bulky power armor that Halo and the others wear isn't standard, it protects them from the devastating effects of gravity in the Crush.
  • Time Dilation: The planet Moab has such an extreme gravitational field that all the soldiers have to wear high pressure armor to fight. When the Amazon Brigade marches towards combat, the fight is frozen but gradually speeds up as they get closer to it, being at normal speed by the time they arrive. Every time Halo goes out on a mission for an afternoon, she misses another birthday. She ends up getting promoted this way, and she returns one last time to find that war ended months ago.
  • Try to Fit That on a Business Card: The Proximen acquire extra words in their names as a sign of increased status.
  • We Will Have Euthanasia in the Future: The first volume notes that the upper levels of the Hoop contain pleasant gardens that prospective euthanasiacs can visit before dying. The protagonists use them as a shortcut, and plan to say the garden's beauty made them want to live again if they get caught.
  • Year Outside, Hour Inside: Fighting in "the Crush" on Moab for five minutes is actually two months to observers, due to the extremely heavy gravity affecting time.