Friday, 17 April 2015

The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: Century

Alan Moore & Kevin O'Neill
Knockabout

A round up of the three 'Century' books that took the League through the 20th Century and into the 21st.
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The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: Century 1910

The new volume detailing the exploits of Miss Wilhelmina Murray and her extraordinary colleagues, Century is a 240-page epic spanning almost a hundred years. Divided into three 80-page chapters - each a self-contained narrative to avoid frustrating cliff-hanger delays between episodes - this monumental tale takes place in three distinct eras, building to an apocalyptic conclusion occurring in our own, current, twenty-first century. 
Chapter one is set against the backdrop of London, 1910, twelve years after the failed Martian invasion and nine years since England put a man upon the moon. In the bowels of the British Museum, Carnacki the ghost-finder is plagued by visions of a shadowy occult order who are attempting to create something called a Moonchild, while on London's dockside the most notorious serial murderer of the previous century has returned to carry on his grisly trade. Working for Mycroft Holmes' British Intelligence alongside a rejuvenated Allan Quartermain, the reformed thief Anthony Raffles and the eternal warrior Orlando, Miss Murray is drawn into a brutal opera acted out upon the waterfront by players that include the furiously angry Pirate Jenny and the charismatic butcher known as Mac the Knife

In this first book of the new LOEG series we return to the League some years after the adventures of the first two series but some time before the adventures of the Black Dossier with the League still working for the British Government.  

The team now consisting of the youthful and now immortal Mina Murray and Allan Quatermain along with Orlando, ghost hunter Thomas Carnacki and, gentleman thief, Raffles are drawn into investigating the occult underworld they suspect of trying to bring forth the Moonchild (whatever that is).

Nemo’s daughter Janni meanwhile has run away to London where the patrons of the depraved little dive that she finds work at eventually attack her in the most vile manner leading her to summon the Nautilus, of which she is now the captain, and exact her revenge.

I like this book a lot. It’s blatantly only a third of a story and I much prefer to read my books fully formed so this was slightly frustrating. The next volume is going to be the same but hey ho, some LOEG is better than no LOEG.

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The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: Century 1969
The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: Century: 1969 Volume III, Number 2 Chapter two takes place in the psychedelic daze of swinging London during 1969, a place where Tadukic Acid Diethylamide 26 is the drug of choice, and where different underworlds are starting to overlap dangerously. The vicious gangster bosses of London's East End find themselves brought into contact with a counter-culture underground of mystical and medicated flower-children, or amoral pop-stars.

This was excellent. It’s been a long time coming but well worth the wait.

Our three heroes wash up on the coast of England courtesy of a much older and mellower Janni and the Nautilus. Making their way to London they begin once more to investigate Oliver Hado and his Moonchild.

Swinging London was always going to fire up Mr. Moore and what we get is a massive mash-up of the era with Haddo jumping from body to body and trying to find his way into the lead singer of the Stones analogue, The Purple Orchestra.

The three mains are looser and more in touch with each other but Mina is struggling to incorporate herself and as such has leaped into the requisite personality with almost unseemly alacrity.

Once more the story leaves us hanging. This time on a monstrous cliffhanger and it’ll probably be several years before the final part. I can hardly wait.

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The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: Century 2009
In Chapter Three, the narrative draws to its cataclysmic close in London 2008. The magical child whose ominous coming has been foretold for the past hundred years has now been born and has grown up to claim his dreadful heritage. His promised aeon of unending terror can commence, the world can now be ended starting with North London, and there is no League, extraordinary or otherwise, that now stands in his way. The bitter, intractable war of attrition in Q'umar crawls bloodily to its fifth year, away in Kashmir a Sikh terrorist with a now-nuclear-armed submarine wages a holy war against Islam that might push the whole world into atomic holocaust, and in a London mental institution there's a patient who insists that she has all the answers.

And so the League's century comes to an end. And what an end it is. 

This final volume picks up 30 years on from the previous. Alan is a homeless addict, Mina is hospitalised and heavily sedated and Orlando is back from fighting a war overseas to find the UK a dystopian mess and himself once more swapping gender.

Upon arrival at the the Leagues old haunt Orlando is contacted by Prospero and tasked with dealing with the now imminent arrival of the Antichrist.  In her attempts to locate her fellow League members she is forced to travel to various locations familiar to lovers of teenage wizardry in order to locate the Moonchild / Antichrist before the final battle wherein one beloved character is destroyed and nanny punishes a very naughty boy.


It's a glorious and melancholy end to a key chapter in this fabulous series.  With each issue of the League they release Moore and O'Neill drag me further and further into a world that I don't want to see end.  Luckily it seems they don't either and the books keep coming.

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