Posts Tagged ‘League of Extraordinary Gentlemen’

Century 2009 concludes the century trilogy, where Mina Murray, Alan Quatermain, and Orlando find the Moonchild/Anti-Christ that we’ve heard about in the last two installments. The climax of this story leaves us with interesting questions about the nature of the world of LXG, this world’s potential, and Moore’s own view on contemporary culture as well as creative issues in the comic book community.

Before that I want to mention a few pop culture references. We see a grown Jack Nemo threatening to start WWIII. We also get a 90 year old James Bond (a despicable man we met in the Black Dossier) now suffering from cirrhosis, emphysema, and syphilis. He’s kept alive to suffer as punishment to those he’s wronged before. We also get a glimpse of J3, and J6, basically the Bond’s of Roger Moore and Daniel Craig.

Back to the main story. The gang finds out that the Anti-Christ, for all intents and purposes, is Harry Potter. They go to what is essentially Hogwarts where it’s revealed that Harry Potter’s adventures were all arranged to get him ready for his destiny. Potter is not at the school now, the final battle takes place at his home.

The gang fights off Potter but it’s not going so well when, a character who is basically Jesus Christ shows up to save the day. So we get Harry Potter vs. Jesus Christ.

From a Christian perspective, could this be considered blasphemy? This brings to question the dynamics of the world of LXG. In the closing monologue of Black Dossier I believe it is suggested that some of the characters know they’re in a world of fiction. When Mina and Orlando arrive at Hogwarts the land is in ruins, and the two characters speculate that this area is like London’s dream-time  and that there could be a symbiotic relationship between the worlds of fiction and the real world. Mina says “maybe this magical landscape mirrors the real world.”

Orlando supposes it could also be the opposite. Saying “If our magical landscape, our art and fairy-tales and fictions… if that goes bad, maybe the material world follows suit.”

Back to Jesus, during the battle the Jesus character says “I have many great responsibilities,, foremost amongst these , however, is my concern for children. I am concerned regarding their wellbeing, and the healthy development of their imaginations.” Could it be that Jesus entered the world of fiction to save it from a pop culture Anti-Christ?

Another notion I would like to address, something I saw coming, was the view Alan seems to have of modern culture. Part of this is covered in a previous blog here https://jemurr.wordpress.com/2009/04/26/death-of-the-imagination-not/

Years ago Alan was quoted as saying (the full quote is in the link above) that this LXG story would be about the decay of the imagination. Mina in this story says “It’s not just the poverty, people were desperately poor in 1910. But at least they felt things had a purpose. How did culture fall apart in barely a hundred years.”

Orlando answers, “By becoming irrelevant, same as always.”

The irony is Alan Moore openly admits to knowing very little of contemporary culture. In this article linked below, which I also quoted in the above blog

http://www.comicbookresources.com/?page=article&id=20812.

he says.

“I know absolutely nothing about contemporary culture. I am cut off from most inputs. I’m not connected to the internet in any way, I watch very little television.”

It is interesting to consider that Victorian England and England of 1969 in the world of LXG were both so vibrant, rich, and lively, and Moore’s world of 2009 is bleak and depressing. Yet he admits knowing little to nothing of today’s culture. You could make the argument that the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen is the height of Baby Boomer arrogance, that it proclaims 1969 as the epitome of Western Popular Culture, and following that everything fell into oblivion.

On a less serious note, the saga of LXG is basically the story of British popular culture. There’s nothing wrong with Moore writing what he knows, and he certainly knows this. However I would have liked to have seen this world incorporate other popular culture as well, such as that of Asia, and naturally America. Planetery did a great job of this. Also, after Watchmen, Moore grew tired of writing super heroes. Caped adventurers did exist in the world of LXG, but they were more of an annoying fad. It would have been fun to see a good superhero adventure set in this world.

Finally, Harry Potter is the Anti-Christ and fights Jesus Christ, but no one should be allowed to touch Watchmen….

Century: 1969 opens with a British Pop Star murdered by members of a mysterious cult. Evidently this is related to an attempt to bring the Moonchild/antichrist into the world which was detailed in the previous edition. Quatermain, Mina, and Orlando are contacted by the Blazing World (this is just mentioned in passing) to try stopping it again. Along the way we briefly meet the daughter of Captain Nemo, who we met in the last chapter. She is now a grandmother.

Oliver Haddo, the Aleister Crowley type character from the last edition has apparently died but his presence is still felt in the narrative. Norton, the time traveling prisoner of London also appears giving more cryptic information, among other things that they’ll meet again in 2009 and by then it will be too late. (The third edition of Century is set in 2009.)

Apparently a recent attempt to make an anti-christ failed. A reference to the novel/film Rosemary’s baby is made, it’s mentioned that the devil child was stillborn. The gang manages to stop another ritual from taking place, but it’s not exactly what they think, and has dire consequences for Mina. Her fate is a chilling consequence of being immortal. The closing scene leaves us in the early 70s/punk era, with the group now in shambles.

The prose story Minions of the Moon continues, and the preceding narrative gives us a hint of where these stories are coming from. We get a wide range of fictional references from the Frankenstein Monster to the fiction of H.G. Wells to the B movie classic Amazon Women on the Moon.

At this point the this story is much more reliant on prior knowledge of the previous edition, as well as the Black Dossier, and the pop culture references in general.

I don’t get as many of the pop cultural references in this edition, but there’s one I’d like to mention. One of the more obscure novels referenced in this story is Vril: The Power of the Coming Race, published in 1871 by Edward Bulwer Lytotton. It is about a underground race of beings that have mastered this energy called Vril. The book has a sort of cult following and some allege that the Nazi party believed Vril to be real. Anyway, there’s one scene in Century 1969 where there’s a live sex show featuring a woman and a creature from this novel. I happened to have read this novel, and know that the Vril were not portrayed as hedonistic. Hence I’m curious why Moore chose to portray these creatures in such a way. I’m sure there are plenty of other fictional creatures to be used for hedonism, like those of the Shaver mysteries for example.

My review of book one below.

https://jemurr.wordpress.com/2009/07/10/league-of-ext-gentlemen-century-1910-a-late-review/

Review of book three coming soon.

The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen is a series of comic book initially centered on Victorian era characters from early science fiction/horror/adventure literature. It is written by Alan Moore and illustrated by Kevin O’Niel. Moore’s initial concept was that of a Justice League of the Victorian era, using characters that have lapsed into public domain. Subsequent editions expanded in an attempt to include almost all of fiction.

The first two volumes were 6 issue mini-series. The latest edition is being released as three separate graphic novels. The first one was released in 2009.

Volume One, originally puin 1999, featured the team of Mina Murray (From the Dracula Novel), Mr. Hyde, The Invisible Man, and Captain Nemo battling Sherlock Holmes villian Moriarty.

Volume Two had the same team, with the aid of Dr. Moreau, fight off the Martian invasion from War of the worlds.

 

The first part of Volume III has a turn of the century league investigates an occult menace.

Between volume’s 2 and 3 was The Black Dossier, a sort of guidebook to the world of the League,revealing it’s long history and inclusion of many characters.

Other characters/works appearing, or at least referenced in the League include; Conan, Chtulu, James Bond, Fu Manchu, Popeye, Time Traveler, Frankenstein, Lupin, Lost World, Characters from Beatnik Literature, Shakespearean Characters, 1984, Dan Dare, Beowulf, Robin Hood, Gulliver, Batman, Fantomas, Phantom of the Opera, Metropolis, and countless others.

It should also be noted that there was a League movie in 2003, starring Sean Connery as Allan Quatermain. Tom Sawyer and Dorian Gray were part of the fictional cast. It was mostly unpopular with fans, hence planned sequels were never made.

 

In a sense The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen is the Ultimate Crossover or sorts. In it’s own way it is that which I have always dreamed, one fictional world containing huge quantities of popular fictional characters.

Here are some League Links

Jess Nevins Annotations to The League and other comics.

League of Extraordinary Gentlemen
Very thorough site on the League. Details the various incarnations/memberships of the League as well as their missions of the centuries. Also has news on upcoming tales.