Sunday, July 1, 2012

The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: Century #3 - 2009

Written by Alan Moore
Art by Kevin O'Neill

I don't know.  Maybe it's just me, but I'm not all that impressed with this latest appearance of the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen.

In a nutshell, this issue jumps some forty years since the team was last seen.  Orlando has been in the army, fighting in Q'Mar (a stand-in for Iraq?).  Mina has been in a mental institute, and Allan Quartermain has fallen off the wagon, and is living on the streets. Orlando is called upon to put the band back together to fight the Anti-christ, so that's what happens.  There's a little more going on, but not much.

And therein lies the problem with this series, as it moves closer to the present day.  When Moore first started writing the League, what made it work was the use of so many different literary characters (Mr. Hyde, the Invisible Man, Captain Nemo, etc.) in a shared universe.  When the story was set in Victorian England, that was easily done; all the characters were in the public domain.  When setting a story in 2009, when copyright laws are still in effect, causes Moore to spend more time being cute with his references (it's pretty clear that the Anti-christ is Harry Potter, but it's never stated) than with actually developing his characters and story into something very interesting or exciting.

I'd expected this issue to be a little easier to read, as many of the references would be more obvious than the ones set in 1969, a time where I wasn't alive.  I didn't really find that to be the case - instead, I felt that each and every time a name was mentioned, or someone walked through the foreground of a frame, that there was some sort of easter egg that I was supposed to decipher, making this the literary comic book equivalent of Where's Waldo?.  I know there is an audience for this sort of thing, but it's not me.

On the up-side, Kevin O'Neill continues to impress.

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