Friday, July 29, 2011

The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: Century: 1969

Now here's a challenging book to review.

The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: Century: 1969 brings the three surviving members of that team up to the end of the '60s - which is a pretty good trick, since Mina is in her 90s, Allan Quartermain is over 100, and Orlando is about 3000 years old.

They've all been preserved as eternally young thanks to a swim in a certain mystical pool. They use their youth and skills to fight against the forces of evil - in the case of this issue, they're out to stop an ancient plot to create the Anti-Christ as they find themselves up against a foe whose plot extends beyond the grave.

But the story is almost secondary to the experience of reading this book. It's almost like wading through a delightful textbook of characters and events from the '60s, many of them disguised to avoid legal entanglements, no doubt.

I'm anxious to read the analysis of this issue by those who will catch the many references I no doubt missed - but you can find everything in here from Michael Moorcock creations to comic strip characters (hey, it's Andy Capp) to TV stars (Doctor Who, anyone?) and much more.

Mad Magazine was well known for loading some stories with "chicken fat" - lots of in-jokes, references and gags for readers to discover - and that's what this series is loaded with. Almost every panel features a character, a reference, a gag - it's amazing the kind of detail writer Alan Moore and artist Kevin O'Neill can squeeze in without detracting from the central characters and the ongoing plot.

This series isn't for everyone - it's often disturbing, adult in content (both for subject matter as well as language, nudity and sexual content) and very challenging to wade through.

But it's also rewarding, as it spins out a tale that's loaded with heroics, mystery and concepts that strain the imagination.

If you're a fan of Moore and O'Neill, you don't need me to tell you that they're doing amazing work here. I'm anxiously awaiting the next volume!

Grade: A


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