Sunday, July 31, 2011

The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: Century#2 - 1969

Written by Alan Moore
Art by Kevin O'Neill

It's hard to believe that it's been over two years since the last issue of LOEG: Century came out (I reviewed it in May 2009), but there you have it.  Any time there's a new comic by Alan Moore, there's a cause for some celebration, and this was easily the best and most impressive thing I picked up this week, but at the same time, I will admit to being a little disappointed.

First a recap:  Mina Murray, Alan Quartermain, and Orlando have returned to London after an absence of many years, because they believe that their nemesis for this series, Olive Haddo, has returned and is at work preparing for the birth of an anti-Christ or some such.  The trio are tasked with hunting down Haddo, who has been jumping bodies for a while now.

The twist is that our trio is not particularly prepared for life in 1969 London..  Mina's been around recently (apparently with a team of super heroes), but the others are not prepared for the free love and copious amounts of readily available drugs.  Nor are they prepared for Mina's desperate need to fit in, and not appear as 'square' as her companions.

That's what I found most interesting about this book.  Sure, it's fun to hunt Easter eggs (more on this soon), but what interested me was watching a trio of immortals (two of whom are relatively new to that status) adjust to the tempo and social revolutions of the twentieth century.  Quartermain and Orlando aren't particularly interested in staying relevant, while for Mina, it seems to be a necessity.

The rest of the book was secondary to me, as I find the relationship between these three characters most interesting.  Not being British, and not having lived through the '60s, many of Moore's clever plays on names and literary allusions were completely lost on me.  Having skimmed Jess Nevin's annotations, I am both awed and humbled by how much is in here that has escaped me.

Thus, I'm happy that Moore and O'Neill manage to keep things so interesting and fresh while still playing their own little reference games.  I think this book succeeds much better than The Black Dossier did because the focus is on the people, whereas that book got too caught up in the construction of its story.  With this book, it's not necessary to know that Oliver Haddo is supposed to be Aleister Crowley, or that the Purple Orchestra is a stand-in for the Rolling Stones to enjoy things; it does take things another level if you know that though.

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