May 26, 2009

Does Alan Moore Know the Score?

I've been wanting to blog about League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: Black Dossier for awhile now...but in all honesty, I've not had a chance to do so, but since League of Extraordinary Gentlemen - Volume 3: Century - 1910 just came out (what a mouthful!), I thought it might be cool to look at both works at the same time, just to be able to draw same parallels, but to see how both books "work" in the current LOEG universe.

Of the two, Black Dossier is, quite easily, my favorite, because it doesn't quite stick the formula. Many have "complained" about the assorted text pieces, mixed media, and other diversions...but I see it in quite another way - it's Alan Moore having some fun. Of course, his idea of "fun" is a Cthulu/Jeeves & Wooster crossover, but that's what makes it a really unique read. However, Black Dossier does more than that - it really creates an entire world out of whole cloth, taking the whole of British (and some American) pop culture and creating a unique tapestry out of it. The story is relatively simple - Mina Harker and Allan Quartermaine steal a valuable book and attempt to get away - but the pleasure is in the details, with references ranging from...well, television and movie buffs will probably get these a lot more, but Black Dossier is more of a background piece. It gives a history of the league, shows us somewhat where they've been...and possible directions for the League...

...and Century: 1910 is...well, it seems almost like Moore-by-numbers. I understand Moore's love of The Threepenny Opera, but he used it to better effect (in my opinion) in Watchmen. Here, I liked the whole idea of an occult-created "moonchild", and there were some clever insertions, but on the whole, for some reason, this volume felt a little forced in writing. It may just be that, because Moore is using a slightly different cast, it doesn't seem to have "jelled" - and maybe Black Dossier "spoiled" the series somewhat, but there wasn't much to this first volume. Although Moore may intend for each volume to be a stand-alone edition, Century: 1910 feels more like set-up than a full story.

There's also something else that bothers me - and I must admit, it's come after reading this particular blog article. But the whole issue of a female character being 'developed' through sexual assault is slightly...well, it's off-putting. Moore's not the only person who does it - and quite frankly, I can't say he does it so frequently as to be a major trope of his writing, but it seems slightly lazy and ineffective. I won't say rape is off-limits in fiction...but it should mean something, not just as a way to get from plot point A to plot point B.

Given the length of time between volumes (the next Century won't be out until next year), I don't know if I can honestly recommend Century, but the Black Dossier? One of the best comics I've read.

And I'll stand behind that statement.

1 comment:

Nik said...

Great post! I did quite like 1910, but agree, coming after the dazzling Black Dossier, it felt like a bit of a retreat in form. Black Dossier was just overflowing with ideas, even if some didn't quite work (the 3-D climax fizzled for me). Moore plays it a bit safer in 1910 (although having German musical interludes isn't too safe I guess).