The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: Century 1969 by Kevin O'Neill and Alan Moore
|The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: Century 1969 by Kevin O'Neill and Alan Moore|
|Category: Graphic Novels|
|Reviewer: John Lloyd|
|Summary: The heroes untimely rip'd from other pages encounter swinging Soho on their way to defeat ultimate evils. The reader sees wicked irreverence can be almost plain bad.|
|Buy? Maybe||Borrow? Maybe|
|Pages: 80||Date: July 2011|
So much for the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. Of the three main protagonists available for this adventure, one and a half are female! Anyway, Bram Stoker's Mina, Woolf's Orlando and Allan Quatermain are in London at the height of the swinging 60s, amidst rumours that a new attempt at birthing an Antichrist is about to occur. Certainly, the evil they've faced the last several decades will soon get a new face...
There's a frivolity about the telling that suggests the creators are engaging with their own wickedness. It starts with a homosexual blowjob, and features needless images up Mina's miniskirt as it weaves its harum-scarum way past bad sex, bad music and worse drugs to the ultimate encounters on the astral plane. It probably goes past countless in-jokes as well, were one au fait with everything - I certainly recognised Michael Moorcock's Jerry Cornelius character (in black and white, or rather white and black, as he's "just a bit negative at present").
If anything it shows Moore is definitely au fait with the headshop comix of that age. The swirling bending of the panel's grid structure later on, and the successful way we read a weft of four different vocalisations, show the creators at their best. But it all boils down to the fact that what the artists are riffing off, embellishing (and doing so finely at times with nice colouring, and great lettering from the genius Todd Klein) and pastiching, was a load of addled gibberish in the first place.
To me it seems that putting characters, however wacky, diverse and ancient, in a singular cultural milieu as Soho etc loses a lot when they're soooo multisexual and worldly-wise, and can fail to bat an eyelid at anything. Bryan Talbot has revisited these worlds before, adding further Crowley, extra arcana and much greater wit to the mixture of mind-bending elements, and even he has failed to make me wish to have been there, either to have lived it or have read the real contemporary thing. This fantasia does not make me wish for further adventures in this timeframe, and the pastiche of Moorcock-era New Worlds at the end made me feel as dismissive as this fiction itself is.
I must still thank the publishers for sending me a review copy.
The consequences of a more '70s way of life can be seen in the compellingly designed Neil Young's Greendale by Joshua Dysart, Cliff Chiang and Dave Stewart. You might also appreciate Nemo: Roses of Berlin by Alan Moore and Kevin O'Neill.
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You can read more book reviews or buy The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: Century 1969 by Kevin O'Neill and Alan Moore at Amazon.com.
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