July 5, 2012

An Ordinary League in a More Ordinary Century

There's been a lot of press coverage about some of the plot content of League of Extraordinary Gentleman - Century: 2009. You can Google it if you want to get spoilers; I won't provide those here.

I really wasn't sure that I wanted to continue reading this book - 1969 was, for me, a total mess. Granted, it was the middle of a trilogy, but there was a lack of cohesion to the story, and the references seemed relatively obligatory, giving the book a slightly off-kilter feel. But I did want to see how Moore and O'Neill would handle a "modern day" League, and 2009 answers those questions.

However, sad to say, despite what you read elsewhere, Century: 2009 is a crashing disappointment, seeming more like the writings of an author with an axe to grind than the ending of a solid tale.

Yes, I understand what Alan Moore was trying to accomplish, focusing on how commercialism and spectacle has overtaken storytelling, and how our modern culture may be all the lesser for it. Volumes One and Two were able to accomplish this by creating an entire world based on fictions, and what helped was the lack of familiarity mixed in with archetypes. Even Black Dossier served as more of a guide than a story, and its ability to mix genres helped make it engaging.

But Century: 2009 is a total disappointment - much like 1969, there's a sense of obviousness about the references. There's a near-absurdity about the fact that when the Big Bad is revealed - and the Big Bad's subsequent actions - it seems less about Moore making a grand statement and more about being the literary equivalent of the old man yelling, "Hey, you kids, get off of my lawn."

Moore's defenders will chime and say that he's making an important point about the need for strong fiction, for the power of stories....and given that this is coming out in the context of Before Watchmen, it might seem understandable that Moore has strong feelings. But in all honesty, this felt less like a story and more like a Family Guy-style parody of Alan Moore.

(And I would like to apologize to the Family Guy fans reading this review. Although I'm not a fan of the show, at least it's honest in its efforts to have an effect, and uses pop culture references as a kind of shorthand. Century: 2009 uses references as a way to say, "We know more than you do.")

All in all, Century started promisingly in 1910, and degenerated into a total and complete mess. This book isn't even worth acquiring through illicit means.

My advice - pick up the trades of League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: Volume One, Volume Two, and The Black Dossier. All three are great stories in their own right, and will lead you to exploring tons of great literature.

All Century: 2009 will do is leave a poor taste in your mouth.

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