The Ballad of Halo Jones, Volume 2
Alan Moore (writer), Ian Gibson (artist), Barbara Nosenzo (colorist)
July 10, 2018
The middle installment of a trilogy is necessary to set up the climax in the third book, but it’s not always extremely exciting. The Ballad of Halo Jones, Volume 2 is episodic and fun, but not as thrilling as the first or final volumes of the series. Volume 2 starts out with a tidy bit of exposition: Alan Moore and Ian Gibson present readers with a lecture hall of the year 6427, in which a historian is giving a lecture about the legendary figure of Halo Jones and what her world was like in the year 4949.
This serves not only to remind readers what happened in the first volume without boring us, but also to elevate the title character into the status of legend. In this book, we don’t see Halo do the things she is apparently later famous for doing, but everything that happens to and because of her is given the added weight of knowing people will still be talking about her millennia later.
This volume sees Halo in a less active role than the first. Many things happen to her, and we can see how they are shaping her, but she herself does not take action and present herself in the role of a motivated person. In the first volume, she makes decisions, acts on them, and her previous actions (such as learning a language) shape her opportunities. In this volume, she is, in contrast, largely reactive, and intentionally so, as readers learn she was famous for saying about her extraordinary life: “anybody could have done it.”
She spends a year on the spaceship Clara Pandy, working and heading out to her planned rendezvous with her friend Rodice. The ship is going in that direction and she is going along with it. Readers are offered vignettes of different times throughout the year, easily imagined as the moments that Halo herself might tell as anecdotes in the future. Throughout, the focus is more on things that happen to her and less on things she, herself, does. She angles unsuccessfully to get asked out on a date, observes celebrities around her, has her life threatened repeatedly and survives (but not directly because of her own actions), and accidentally finds out a terrible truth about the past. It’s all interesting, but not overflowing with agency.
The people who have the most agency in this volume are Halo’s roommates. One of them is Toy, a seven-foot-tall hostess who loves soap operas, and is an arm-wrestling delight. The other is Glyph, who is a tragic character and should probably come with a content warning. Glyph has had multiple “total body remould” surgeries in a way that now reads like a cautionary tale about being non-binary, seemingly played for novelty and laughs.
Glyph says, “I changed my mind about whether I wanted to be a girl or a boy forty-seven times … Eventually I was not a boy or a girl. I wasn’t anything … Also, my personality had been completely erased. That’s why I’m so boring.” The cringe-inducing running joke is that this amounts to a surgical erasure making the person a nonentity, and other characters consistently ignore, overlook or forget Glyph. As it turns out, however, in multiple scenes, it is this character who is most effective in achieving the means for Halo to survive another day.
Barbara Nosenzo’s colors continue to be gorgeous, with a similar palette to the first volume. There’s a lot of rich secondary colors, greens, oranges and purples, with frequent pinks and teals. Again the palette gets warmer or cooler, shading into yellows or blues depending on the specific settings of various scenes, but stays consistent and works well with the page layouts and line work overall.
Though Volume 2 is not my favorite of the three volumes of The Ballad of Halo Jones, this is a beautiful edition of it, and I am excited about getting to the third volume when it is released on September 18th of this year.