Sunday, June 7, 2009

Random Reviews: The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: Century 1910

Oh look!  What a wonderful horse!  That was at Troy. I am a big fan of The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen by Alan Moore and Kevin O’Neill.  The series has progressed a great deal over the years.  When it started, The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen was much more like a traditional superhero team comic book with a late 19th Century sheen added to it.  As the series has continued Alan Moore has continues to add layers of complexity by combining highly diverse fictional worlds created by very different types of authors into a unified whole.

The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: Century 1910 takes place before the events of The Black Dossier , although I would definitely recommend reading Black Dossier first.  It involves the “second Murray team”, which includes Mina Murray, Allan Quarterman Jr. (a rejuvenated Allan Quarterman), Orlando (sex-changing immortal), Thomas Carnacki (an occult detective), and A. J. Raffles (gentleman thief).  Janni Dakkar, the daughter of Captain Nemo (a.k.a. Prince Dakkar), also plays a major role in the book, although she only crosses paths with Mina Murray briefly at the end.

The book starts with Carnacki having apocalyptic dreams.  They seem to revolve around the (presumed deceased) occultist Oliver Haddo (a fictional version of Aleister Crowley from the 1907 novel The Magician).  Mina decides that even a possible apocalypse is too important to ignore and has her team investigate. 

A parallel story follows Janni Dakkar attempting to escape her father’s desire that he take his place as captain of the Nautilus.  Janni flees her father’s island and escapes to England, where she becomes a maid at the Cuttlefish Hotel.

Events do not favor either Mina Murray’s team or Janni’s attempt to escape her destiny.

This book represents a midway point between the glorious insanity of Black Dossier and the more conventional, although still outstanding, first two volumes of The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen.  I will admit that it did not thrill me quite as much as it’s predecessors.  Even though it was designed without a cliffhanger, it is obvious that there is a lot of setup in this book for next year’s The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: Century 1969 and the following year’s The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: Century 2009.

I still highly recommend this book to fans of the previous installments of The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen.  If you have never read the book, or worse only seen the movie, I would recommend starting with the first volume.  The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: Century 1910 is a much more enjoyable read when taken in context with what has gone before it.

Oh, and like almost all of Alan Moore’s modern work, I recommend reading through it a second time with annotations.


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