Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Finding Nemo Dull

Not really anything to do with the Prog but it is by two of Tharg's former droids, and I want to let off steam about the latest instalment of The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen franchise which arrives in a slim but pricey hardback from Alan Moore and Kevin O'Neill.

The plot in a nutshell, and really there's not much more to it than this, is that Captain Nemo's daughter Janni, and her lover Broad Arrow Jack head into Berlin to rescue their own daughter. In the process they kill a lot of Nazis and various characters from the fictional worlds of The Cabinet of Dr Caligari, Metropolis, and Chaplin's The Great Dictator.

I love the early works of Alan Moore. His stories in Warrior and Swamp Thing were what got me back into comics. And Kevin O'Neill is one of the greatest artists from the golden age of 2000AD. The original concept of the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen was brilliant, the stories were engaging and I cared about the plight of Mina Murray and Alan Quatermain, or at least I did to begin with. Plus there was that fun game of trying to spot the plethora of cultural references scattered through the books. The stuff that Jess Nevins and his band of Divers' Hands annotate at length.

Well that's all the praise done, now for the nitty-gritty. Let's start with the first page being entirely in German with no translation, and there are several more pages of German to come. Now I could type them into google translate, or I could wait until Jess Nevins and crew put up the annotations, but come on. We know that Moore is a literate man, he doesn't have to prove it to us by writing in German.

As I have said the plot itself is fairly negligible. I bought it in Gosh comics in London and finished it on the train ride back. It's just one lengthy pitched battle in which Janni and Jack kill ridiculous numbers of bad guys who all seem to be as useless as the storm troopers from Star Wars. I'm sure there are references to other fictions apart from the ones already mentioned, but I can't be bothered to go back and look for them.

In his infamous "last interview" Moore has made it fairly clear that he has a low opinion of all of us masturbators on the internet. And before I start any more trouble let me state that there is no depiction of rape in this book, although Janni and Jack fear that is what is happening to their captured daughter. There is a fairly typical amount of female nudity which Moore and O'Neill presumably regard as showing a healthy regard for human sexuality, but just seems more and more like the fantasies of two middle aged men.

I suspect many readers will have already jumped off the League books once the story reached the twentieth century. I have stuck with it so far but really feel as if it is disappearing up its own fundament now. There are lots of dead bodies in this book, there is even some flogging, but I couldn't spot the dead horse that this concept has become. Alan Moore has a huge brain, he likes to demonstrate that in his writings, plus he's a wizard and can probably vaporise me for not getting all his cultural references, but I'm done with this series. Spend your tenner more wisely, and preferably on some 2000AD instead.


  1. *sigh* I just read this over the weekend. It looked lovely, but, as you note, was it ever hollow. The "surprise" even felt phoned in. I love Moore's work - am anxious to read Jerusalem and will most likely buy the next volume of this series - but, man, if it continues along this track, I may follow you off the train, sir.

  2. Thanks for the comment, Chris. I've been a lifelong fan of Moore since Warrior so I share your disappointment