CRAIG’S PICK :: NEMO: HEART OF ICE: When the final volume of Alan Moore and Kevin O’Neill’s most recent League of Extraordinary Gentlemen story–Century: 2009–arrived in comic shops last June, it generated some heat. Sean Collins hand-wrung his way through a review on the Comics Journal website, arguing that the exhausted, dispirited tone of Moore and O’Neill’s story (which, incidentally, posits Harry Potter as the Antichrist and Mary Poppins as Yahweh) was a perfect expression of the Bearded Mage’s personal distaste for contemporary popular culture. Meanwhile, the critics at the Comic Books Are Burning in Hell podcast devoted an entire episode to Century: 2009; Matt Seneca claimed that the most significant British authors of our generation are Moore and J.K. Rowling (suck it, Martin Amis!), while Joe McCullough wondered aloud if Moore’s takedown of Rowling has less to do with jockeying for canonical position, and more to do with a persistent strain of sexism in Moore’s work.
Me? I liked Century: 2009 fine, though none of the Extraordinary Gentlemen tales has ever reached the lucid artistry of my favorite Moore pieces, such as “The Anatomy Lesson” (Steve Bissette and John Totleben!), “The Bowing Machine” (Mark Beyer!) and every single solitary panel of From Hell (Eddie Campbell!). Century: 2009 seemed to me a fine second-tier Moore comic, revved up by the taboo-busting that’s always been a hallmark of Gentlemen. After the way the Invisible Man is murdered at the end of LOEG volume 2, and after the irreverence with which James Bond is treated in LOEG: Black Dossier (not to mention Moore’s dredging-up of “The Galley-Wag” from the Empire’s racist Imaginary), did we really expect Moore and O’Neill to treat the Hogwarts-verse with respect? Why would we want them to?
The next LOEG book, a single 56-page comic titled Nemo: Heart of Ice, drops this week. The central character is Janni Dakkar, the daughter of Captain Nemo, who has inherited the super-submarine Nautilus and decides to explore the Antarctic in her vessel. The description of the book on the Top Shelf Comix website blatantly reveals Moore’s inspirations this go-round–we’ll be plunging into the frozen hell of Charles Dexter Ward/Mountains of Madness territory–though I hope Janni will also sing some Brecht/Weill show tunes like she did in the first volume of Century. (It might be tough to smuggle “Alabama Song” into a story that takes place at the South Pole.) And I bet Kevin O’Neill’s draws some mucousy, multi-orificed, calamari/Caligari Lovecraft creatures..!