Belarius's Reviews > The Ballad of Halo Jones

The Ballad of Halo Jones by Alan Moore
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's review
Feb 10, 2008

really liked it
bookshelves: fiction-finished, graphic-novels, speculative-fiction
Recommended for: People Who Wish Tank Girl Wasn't Such A Bimbo
Read in April, 2004

I'm very much torn over The Ballad of Halo Jones, and would give if 3.5 stars if I could. On the one hand, The Ballad has a choppy narrative, murky characterization, bipolar thematic shifts, and engages in more than a little borrowing from classic sci-fi without ever making clear whether it's parody or mere imitation. On the other hand, it is also deliriously inventive and constructively challenges many comic book conventions, most importantly with its strong sympathetic female lead (an especially important quality for a comic originally published in 1984). Author Alan Moore was clearly experimenting a great deal at the time, and learning a great deal, but it wasn't until his later works that the fruits of his experimentations really matured.

When The Ballad of Halo Jones works, its works extremely well. The setting is an absurd black-comedy skew on the futurist model so popular in the late 70s, and breathes with a life of its own thanks to its distinctive euphemism and slang. When the story falls flat, it falls hard, leaving the reader in the lurch. Its characters are well-thought-out, but the lack of clear exposition can make their behavior confusing. In short, Halo Jones is a prototype, with its share of glitches and trend-setting innovations.

I decided, finally, to give it four stars because its failures are understandable but innovations are remarkable. It stands up well to re-reading and has plenty of surprises in store. As long as you don't go in expecting work on par with Moore's very best, you'll have a good time.

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