The Return of Alan Moore: New League of Extraordinary Gentlemen!

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Not that Moore ever went away. But it makes for a better headline.

It’s funny, with all the fuss over Watchmen, you’d almost get the impression that Moore wasn’t still around and writing. Because he’s not participating, everybody sort of talks about him like he’s dead. And I did wonder after the surreal, semi-apocalyptic ending of Black Dossier whether there were going to be any more.

But now I have a black-and-white galley of The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: Century #1 (“1910”) on my desk. Obvs it’s set in the early 20th Century, between the Victorian adventures of the first incarnation and the dystopic midcentury adventures of Black Dossier; in tone it’s closer to the first. It also eschews the wild stylistic diversity of some of the other installments. It’s “just” comix, folks.

The cast: Mina Harker and Alan Quatermain, natch (Alan is now passing himself off as his own son, to get around the awkwardness of his being immortal now). Virginia Woolf’s immortal hermaphrodite Orlando is also on the team, wielding Excalibur to devastating effect. (Orlando: “This is the blade of England’s greatest defender.” Mina: “Only until you stole it from him!”) There’s also the supernatural detective Carnacki, a character not previously known to me. Ditto the gentleman superthief Raffles. Moore is digging deep into the library here. (There aren’t the same supernatural fireworks as there were in the days of the Invisible Man and Mr. Hyde. Everybody at least looks human.) Also present, though not in the League: Macheath and Jenny Diver, who turns out (it’s not a spoiler) to be Nemo’s daughter, from Brecht’s Threepenny Opera.

There’s also an interesting cameo by a figure named Andrew Norton, known as the “prisoner of London,” for whom I can’t find a source. Any ideas? He drifts through time, seemingly at random, and speaks only in mysterious epigrams. He appears to Mina and Alan (she calls him “A.J.” now, for “Alan Jr.”) at King’s Cross and makes a funny sidearm flick at Harry Potter: “A quarter platform over, the franchise express, gathering steam.” (Mina and A.J. don’t get it.)

All very rich stuff. And this doesn’t even seem to be the material Moore was referring to in his interview with Tripwire last year. I hope that means there’s even more League to come.