COMICSCENE REVIEW: THE COMPLETE HALO JONES (AUDIO)

The Ballad Of Halo Jones is a legendary comic series by Alan Moore and Ian Gibson, cut off after three series because Alan Moore didn’t want to play any more, yet those three series finished in a satisfying way so it’s not too serious that there’s six we’ll never get to read. It’s also a massive cash cow for publishers Rebellion, up there with Slaine: The Horned God and Judge Dredd: America as a story that’s reprinted more times than Lord Of The Rings and in as many different editions to wring that extra bit of cash out of fans. Ah well… what’s one more between friends, eh?

Penguin Audio and Rebellion have teamed up to release five all new adaptations of classic stories, including the ones mentioned above plus Brink and Judge Dredd: The Pit. They’re available through Audible for a credit each, or for the eye watering cash sum of around £22, where you don’t even get a physical copy. Cor! What a swizz etc etc.

When all’s said and done, though, it all comes down to the content. What Penguin have done is basically record people reading the comic and added sound effects. Okay, that’s a little simplistic, but effectively the truth. Rather than mess about with a classic, all the comic’s dialogue and text boxes are faithfully reproduced, sort of like an Audio version of what Snyder did with Watchmen and about the same length (just over three hours). The acting is very good, with most voices suiting the characters, although you’ll never please everyone as we all have our own idea of what Halo should sound like (Su Pollard off her tits on vodka for me). The only misstep, and it’s an embarrassing one to be sure, is the character Lux Roth Chop is played for his few lines by a man/teen, whereas the character is an eleven year old boy, a fact that’s even referenced in the drama! How no one spotted this is beyond me, especially as there’s bleedin’ pictures of him!

Anyway… this is really aimed at people who have read the comic, and can even be played alongside a reading session, which is a really cool experiment. There are a few moments when a bit of newly written dialogue or commentary would have really helped explain a visual piece of the story (mainly in the first two parts) that anyone not familiar with the source would be confused by, and that smacks of slavish devotion to the source trumping actually making it more listenable. Not that it’s not a blast, and I found myself listening to all three parts between midnight and three a.m as I was really having fun with it, despite the fact I know it inside out. Book three comes out best, mainly as it’s quite exposition based anyway, but also because it’s the best one with some nice emotional depth.

So should you get this? As a fan, I have to say yes, as I had a lot of fun with it despite the niggling faults. For that friend you’ve been trying to get to read Halo Jones? Not so much, though if you’re there too to explain some stuff it could be a great bonding experience.

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