The Ballad of Halo Jones Volume 3
Alan Moore (writer), Ian Gibson (artist), Barbara Nosenzo (colorist)
September 18, 2018
The thrilling conclusion of a good origin story is simultaneously satisfying and tantalizing. This three-volume arc of The Ballad of Halo Jones feels that way. It’s a great ending, but a bittersweet one, because now it’s over just when Halo Jones herself becomes a fully realized protagonist.
In my review of Volume 2, I emphasized how Halo Jones famously insisted that she wasn’t special. She eventually became known for saying of her remarkable life that “anybody could have done it.” In this culmination of the story, it is definite that Halo isn’t always a hero. Sometimes she’s in the right place at the right time to do something amazing, but frequently, she is a witness to a terrible thing she cannot stop, or an amazing thing in which she has no active part.
She therefore functions as a sort of Everywoman, doing her best to survive and be kind with what opportunities seem to be available to her. As the book opens, Halo Jones is directionless, moving from terrible job to terrible job, in “a pattern of increasing desperation… as if she were pacing the galaxy, trying to get out.” She washes up on an ugly planet called Pwuc at the age of twenty-nine, which I believe is what people younger than I am call “relatable content.” She learns a friend has joined an army, and decides to enlist as well.
Her platoon of ragtag misfits is sent to a planet where they are expected to oppress people who have resorted to guerilla warfare. They’re told that their goal is to gain combat experience there so that they can be more useful elsewhere. They have many terrible experiences, and eventually Halo’s platoon is moved somewhere more important: a planet called Moab, where religious impulses shape the war as it is fought there.
There, she and her platoon join the fight in the Crush, an area in which the gravity distorts perception of time. What feels like mere minutes during the fight turns out to have been weeks or months when Halo emerges from battle. More terrible things happen in war, and then, later, those for whom War was a way of life struggle to find a place in the peace after it. Halo, who had never invested herself fully in the war, is now thirty-three years old and haunted by the memories of dead friends.
She orchestrates an escape for herself. Where does she go? Out.
Volume 3, and the story of Halo Jones we have, concludes. The rest of the volume offers a sample of what Alan Moore’s scripts are like, with their copious instructions to the artist.
The art and the writing are great, of course, and the color in this volume seems a little bit more nuanced and detailed than it did in earlier volumes, which is maybe appropriate for the fact that our protagonist is now more mature. Ian Gibson’s penchant for emphasizing women’s cheekbones is starting to make Halo and others look a little haggard, as they age out of their glamourous careers of Volume 2 and into the armed forces. Barbara Nosenzo’s work adds to this effect: the color schemes are still what she’d been working with in the first two volumes, but the shading and tone of this final one are darker, and the more extensive use of black from Gibson is sensitively addressed by Nosenzo’s colors.
Now that all three volumes are available I can confidently say: if you already love Halo Jones, this edition will be a wonderful investment in seeing her world and story more richly. If you’ve never read The Ballad of Halo Jones, this edition could easily be your first and only.