Wednesday 8 August 2012

The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Century: 2009

and the Black Dossier
Alan Moore and Kevin O’Neil, 2012, 2007
(July 2012)

Contemporary Culture! Alan Moore is disappointed with you!

Firstly, I should have read the Black Dossier before I started on the other Century books. They would have made more sense if I had. Not a whole lot more, admittedly, but more nonetheless, so I actually went back and read the whole lot back again, in order.

Secondly, Alan Moore’s pissed off. Specifically, in Century he’s pissed off at what he perceives to be the vacuity and unoriginality of contemporary culture. While you’ve got to concede that the man has a point, you wonder if Harry Potter is the most worthy target of his ire compared to, say, day-glo reality show stars or vampires that fucking sparkle.

Of all the League books, this one was the one I was best at when it came to playing ‘spot the reference.’ Now, obviously it’s because it’s the era I’m most familiar with, and you do wonder if Moore’s suffering from that same familiarity breeding a bit of contempt. He’s also playing a fairly risky game, in that a lot of the references are from Armando Iannucci shows. While this shows impeccable good taste, if you’re squaring up to satirize contemporary pop-culture then referencing the acknowledged master of the art is only going to invite comparison, from which you’re unlikely to emerge too well.

Still, Iannucci never portrayed The Boy Who Lived as the antichrist, so Moore definitely gets points for going for it. The whole Century series is basically an author tract, and they’re hard to get right. His hits are bigger than his misses, but the latter are still pretty noticable. So flawed, but not fatally so, and certainly a damn sight more thought provoking and well plotted than more fucking quidditch.


  1. Did you spot the two Doctor Whos in one of the London panels?

    It is an "author tract" however he is a British author writing a story based in a world of British fiction, so I think it was fair enough to leave out Twilight and reality TV.

    1. Yep, got the Doctors. My favourite panel though is a toss up between Bernard Black/Father Ted and all the Bonds together at once.

      That's a fair point about leaving out Twilight due to being brit-centric. We've had Big Brother for over a decade tough. Maybe with 1984 playing such a big part in the rest of the series it would just get too meta-textual though? There are limits, after all.

  2. I love going back and reading these comics since I had gotten out of them about 20 years ago. I just started reading hellblazer and recently finished V for Vendetta and Sin City. Nice waste of time when you don't have anything better to do.

    1. Frank Miller comes across as a bit of a dick (see the 99% rant he embarked on recently), so I'm not in any hurry to give him my money. Which is a shame, because Sin City always looks so tempting when I see it on the shelves.

      If it's a waste of time then I'd suggest you need to read better stuff ;) We're all friends here, no need to justify what you like, eh? They're only comics, not farmyard porn or anything.

  3. Read this one when I was tired and not very concentrated. Thinking back now, I don't think I had a clue as to what was going on and didn't feel worth it to go back and read it again with a little more concentration...

    I miss good 'ol Moore and the fantastic Superman and Batman stories he wrote twenty years back...

    1. Yeah, this isn't something you can really tackle without giving it your full attention. I think there's definitely enough there for it to stand up to repeated re-readings, but whether it's worth doing so is another matter.

      For all that it's tackling some fairly timeless stories and characters, it's so focussed on contemporary culture that I have my doubts as to how well it will age.