A spoiler-free personal review of the latest League of Extraordinary Gentlemen book, the graphic novella Nemo: Heart of Ice.
I say personal as it was near impossible for me to put aside my prior feelings when it came to reading this comic, and yet I felt compelled to review it in some manner after racing my way through it in a thoroughly enjoyable manner.
(Hit the jump for the full review!)
My review of the just published League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: Century 2009, by Alan Moore and Kevin O'Neill, is published in today's Independent on Sunday in the lead slot. I've had the (only) review copy for nearly a month now and have resisted looking too smug about that rather well.
The Independent on Sunday has also run a news article about the comic, and one of its more controversial aspects, in the news section. It contains a quote by me, and I've included my full quote below for those interested, written for a mainstream audience.
Our new adventure begins with Orlando fighting once more in an unending war, this time in the Middle East's Q'umar. Our trio has failed to stop the birth of the Antichrist and their union has fractured. A televised news report ponders whether we are returning to an era of spin, resulting in a furiously foul-mouthed tirade from one Malcolm Tucker. As with the opera of 1910 and the cinematic references of 1969, the world of the League is open to all fiction, not only literature, and mentions of Hollywood stars and famous footballers can be found with a keen eye. References to previous instalments show the grand scale of Moore's meticulous planning.
Weaving together Britain's mythic dreamtime into one glorious creative tapestry, this latest percipient adventure is a thrilling ride.
The news story can be found here: Revealed: Harry Potter is the Antichrist!
And my full quote:
Alan Moore is perhaps the greatest comic writer of our time, changing superheroes forever with his genre-breaking Watchmen, altering the face of protests the world over with V for Vendetta, and famous too for his rare stance on film adaptations of his many works: a polite distancing based on personal disinterest. Having turned his back on the US comic publishers and their often questionable approach to creators rights, Moore found a happier home with Knockabout Comics and Top Shelf, where he has cheerfully produced a series of League of Extraordinary Gentlemen graphic novels that have outsold almost every other comic on the market.
From the late 19th century, the series has shown us a parallel world to our own, one in which our fictions are reality, where Captain Nemo and Professor Moriarty shape England's history. Moving events now to 2009, that fiction expands to encompass The West Wing, 24, and of course a certain boy wizard. Moore is always keen to point out that the League books are satire and that he has respect for all characters that he uses and hints at, expressing hope that people will look beyond the Harry Potter connection to appreciate the whole. He and artist Kevin O'Neill have layered several other fictions on top of the character who may (or may not!) be JK Rowling's creation, with nods towards Platform 13, Groosham Grange, and The Dark is Rising, predecessors all to the Boy Who Lived.
Make no mistake, the wily Moore is in no way making a statement on one character by his crafting of the ultimate bad guy in his series to date, rather his chosen Antichrist is a commentary on a perceived degradation of society, both in our world and the fictional. As the publishing industry takes less risks, originality is visibly dwindling, while major franchises and celebrity biographies are relentlessly pushed upon us. When the Antichrist comes face to face with the one character who can terminate his domination, it's difficult not to feel a swell of love for the old books that we all hold dear. People will perhaps be keen to paint this as a curmudgeonly assault on the popular Harry Potter, painting him as an evil abomination that has corrupted our children and heralded the death knell of children's fiction, but that is a shallow reading of a complex series that delights in layering meanings and references in the playground of our imagination.