Who was Halo Jones? That is what the prologue asks, as the reader begins this second volume with the realisation that at some point Halo transcended the ordinary to commit deeds worthy of her being hailed and taught about in classes later in time as an historical figure of note. What better way to get your reader to read on, than to cement the idea that one’s protagonist is going to do something far above the ordinary and occasionally daring deeds she has done?
With that introduction to our character we are reminded that Halo left her home, The Hoop – dumping ground for America’s unemployed – and left her life behind to seek out new adventures on the luxury vessel the Clara Pandy. There was only space for one on the journey, but she and her friend Rodice agreed to reunite one year later, on the planet Charlemagne.
Volume 2 follows Halo’s journey in episodic portions during her work as a hostess aboard the ship, and of course, as always, things do not go quite to plan. A billionaire, space operas, betrayals, rats, the ship’s strange stowaway that can’t remember who or what it is, and the mystery passenger in cabin 215 all manage to occupy Halo’s time as the months tick ever closer to Charlemagne.
Halo’s narrations continue in the form of postcards she sends to Rodice which is a really welcome touch and all the better for its frequently changing format to keep these little elements of the story fresh and exciting. Volume 2 does not fail to provide an extremely readable and highly enjoyable story that even when focusing on nothing more than the very ordinary somehow manages to hold the reader’s attention throughout.
Perhaps the greatest magic of The Ballad of Halo Jones when looked at as an overall package, is that it manages to remain completely timeless in all its futuristic wonder. Its themes and messages, its underlying mundane trials and tribulations, are relevant and relatable – it is an interesting dynamic that graphic novels/comics/visual stories are usually crafted as escapism, yet here, the very everyday things such as what to wear to a party perform the same function.
The wonderful colour palette continues through into this volume, with the bright and pastel shading really adding a depth to the finish. So often works that were originally published in black and white that have since been coloured can feel artificially forced and at times the original tone of the work can become altered by it, but here the colour is entirely non-intrusive and remains perfectly fitting to Halo and the many areas of her new world, the Clara Pandy.