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Old 07-31-2011, 02:16 PM   #1
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Join Date: Oct 2005
Location: England
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The Micro Reviews Special: The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen - Century 1969

Another trip to London and another Moore and O'Neill signing has produced another review ...

The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: Century 1969

Written by Alan Moore
Art by Kevin O’Neill
Published by Top Shelf/Knockabout Comics

Once more, new League has been unleashed upon the world, and again, we are taken into unfamiliar territory. The first two volumes kicked off in the Victorian era, then leapt forward to the 1950’s for The Black Dossier, then back to more familiar ground in 1910. Now, we leap forward 60 years to the end of the fab and groovy 1960’s for, erm, 1969.

The League, now down to just Mina, Allan and Orlando, return to a bright and colourful swinging London following up the possible resurgence of the plans to bring about the “Moonchild” and age of chaos, last alluded to in 1910. The team get to work (as usual, in their fairly erratic style) investigating London’s occult culture, against a backdrop of drug taking and a free music concert, while being shadowed by the criminal underworld. The big set piece of this book involves one of the characters taking a lengthy drug induced trip onto the Astral Plane.

Looks wise, this is the most distinctive of the League books so far and really pops off the page. Volumes 1, 2 and 1910 were restrained by Victorian culture, and The Black Dossier by drab post WWII Britain, but not here, with the thriving counter culture. Kevin O’Neill really gets to work depicting the vibrancy of both the backdrop and the characters, and then turns it up another gear when we get onto the Astral Plane for the big confrontation.

Previously, the League has stuck to fairly rigid, traditional, comic panel formatting (save for the 3D trip to The Blazing World in The Black Dossier), but here that slowly breaks down, to psychedelic, round the page, madness for the showdown with the villain of the piece. All this makes for a completely unique look for a League book, highlighted further when we get brought back with a bump by the almost monochromatic punk era postscript to this book.

Writing wise, the League continues as strong as ever. The central core continue to bicker and function in a relatively limited fashion, Mina cracking under the pressure and boredom that immortality brings, while Allan and Orlando don’t seem to care. Perhaps the overall action inevitably suffers a tad due to this being the “middle chapter” as threads start to come together from 1910, and more are spun out for 2009, the next instalment. There is also quite a cliffhanger ending.

The sexual content, reigned back in 1910 from The Black Dossier, has this time been dialled back up, which seems appropriate for a time marked by liberal attitudes to sex. That said, I’m not sure that the upskirt flashes of Mina’s underwear needed to be quite so regular. If you had issues with seeing Dr Manhattan’s blue penis in Watchmen, the male member is on display a few times here too.

Finally, there is the usual prose section, Minions of the Moon, taking a look at the origins of the strange Galley-wag, and Mina’s investigations on our satellite. It is hard to see how, or even if, this fits into the main comic narrative, but an easier read than the similar sections from the previous volumes.

In summary, I think this is my favourite League instalment to date, and the anticipation for the final chapter, 2009, has gone up a notch.

Highly recommended. A decent price for this book, no adverts, crammed with plot, character and vibrant artwork. Yeah baby!
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