Today’s post marks the first anniversary of Nobody’s Favorites, pharm proving that time does fly when you read a lot of crummy comics. I considered commemorating the occasion by taking on a certain character who has been the subject of several reader requests, approved but life (and my vacation) is too short to spend it sifting through the jagged debris of that high concept trainwreck.
Seeing as how I launched this weekly feature with a discussion of the unlovable Looker, more about it seemed fitting to kick off the second year of Nobody’s Favorites with a takedown of another Outsiders alumnus…
…the rainbow of awfulness otherwise known as Halo.
Though (briefly) successful in its time, there was something a bit…off…about Mike W. Barr’s work on the Outsidersbooks (with and without Batman), a weird melding of Claremontean X-tropes with an imperfectly realized “edgy” agenda in regards to political content and genre conventions. The end results — rare moments of inspiration buried in a landfill of unintentional absurdity — had the “second cousin, once removed” character of an unlicensed superhero role-playing game sourcebook, even more so than comics actually based on an unlicensed superhero role-playing game.
All the right ingredients were present, but — like cafeteria food or store brand cola — the preparation and presentation lent an odd and not entirely welcome flavor to the finished product. The presence of top-notch artists like Jim Aparo and Alan Davis only added to the Outsiders‘ atmosphere of cognitive dissonance.
The telekinetic fashion victim Looker may have marked the nadir of the franchise’s original incarnation (though it has managed to sink even deeper with each subsequent relaunch…up to and including the Dan Didio-helmed present version which demonstrates that executive privilege overrides basic grammar skills and editorial oversight), but Halo — a founding member of the team who debuted in Brave and the Bold #200 — is a strong runner up in the “worst Outsider” stakes.
Found unconscious and glowing in a Markovian ruin by Batman, the amnesiac teen dubbed the girl “Halo” was recruited by the Caped Crusader to assist in his flagrant violation of international law alongside the handful of other terrible new and fallow older characters who would go on to form the Outsiders, Batman’s very own “two-bit Justice League.”
Halo possessed the power to generate “auras” with effects keyed to a specific color of the visible spectrum (red for heat, green for stasis, and so forth), a bit like having the Mandarin’s entire set of rings wrapped up as some blond jailbait wearing a hideous unitard.
Halo’s amnesia ensured that her role as the team’s junior member could be played for maximum irritation via over the top naifishness and gratingly chirpy enthusiasm. That toxic cocktail of forced cutesiness was accompanied by a chaser of subplot-driving melodrama as “Gabrielle Doe” (“Gaby” — rhymes rhymes with “Baby,” even though it’ll make you feel a bit stabby — for short) attempted to uncover the secrets of her mysterious past…
…when she wasn’t busy getting fitted for braces, rescuing the first chair trombone player of her high school band, and listening to vapid mid-Eighties pop music, that is.
The entire sad story of Gaby’s origin was eventually revealed in the “Truth About Halo,” a four-part story arc (which, adjusting for inflationary decompression, would equal 500 pages by current sequential storytelling rates) which was doled out in drips and drabs between tales of Superman beating up Geo-Force and Black Lightning battling a supervillain named “Ghetto-Blaster.”
When the dust finally settled, Halo was revealed to be a teen sociopath named Violet Harper whose dead body was inhabited by an Aurakale, a cosmic being resembling a cat’s eye marble which longed to experience life as a human being. (It’s a sentiment I can understand, as I have often wished I could shed the mantle of advanced primatedom in exchange for the simple joys of amoebic life, devouring microbial scraps with my pseudopod and feeling the satisfaction of asexual reproduction.)
None of these shocking revelations had any effect on Halo as a character, apart from some weepy melodramatic spillover and possibly her later transformation into a boiler-suited Brigitte Nielsen clone.
Halo may not have been the greatest superhero, but she was the easily the best one of the top threeone of the top ten zombie Valley Girl superheroes who are actually a giant glowing superball slumming around with lower lifeforms because they were really envious of Dale Bozzio’s hairstyle. Hey, at least she isn’t Geo-Force.
That’s got to count for something, which is why I’ve chosen Halo as our special paper anniversary Nobody’s Favorite. (See you in fifty-two weeks, Geo-Force.)