ANDY’S PICK :: Nemo: Roses of Berlin is the newest installment in the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen and Alan Moore and Kevin O’Neill do it again. The creative team takes us back to 1941 and Janni–Nemo’s daughter (and current Captain of the Nautilus)– gets involved with the military action of WWII. What makes this book along with all the other LoEG books stand out above other books is the ‘fictional’ world in which these adventures occur. It is not just populated by the heroes of British Pulp fiction, comic books, radio and TV series, Moore and O’Neill add extra layers to their reality. For example, in the world of LoEG, the Beatles did not exist. Instead it was The Rutles that changed the musical world in the MOD sixties. So as we drift back towards Nazi era Europe, it is not Adolph Hitler in charge, but rather Adenoid Hynkel–the title character from Charles Chaplin’s farce The Great Dictator. This looks to be something special. Worth the money; worth the effort.
JUSTIN’S PICK :: THE BOJEFFRIES SAGA GN: Alan Moore is a pretty divisive presence in the funnybook sphere nowadays; the only people more vociferous than his fans seem to be his detractors. So I – fish nor foul – often feel a little lonely, being a moderate fan of the guy (i.e. I love his work, could care less about his personality). This book collects some old Warrior strips with Steve Parkhouse (plus a new installment to bring the family’s exploits into the present day). The Bojeffries Saga is billed as a mash-up of the Addams Family and Coronation Street, creepy, quintessentially British, all at once. Anglophiles note.
BONUS PICK :: INSECT BATH #1: This Fantagraphics anthology had me at the word “insect”. Ever since childhood, bugs have been a consistent fount of fascination. Combined with a healthy appreciation for the horror genre, well, it’s easy to see why I’m losing four bucks to this one. Dig that nutso cover.
ANDY’S PICK :: MIRACLEMAN #1: Short and sweet. Buy this comic book. Forget about all the litigious baggage this series carries and revel in a great (not good–GREAT) comic series that changed things up in the superhero world as much as Dark Knight and Watchmen. This is Alan Moore’s re-imagining the Captain Marvel legend (changed to Marvelman then Miracleman for British publication) tailor made for a modern audience. I don’t want to give anything away. Just buy it and make sure you have Justin add MIRACLEMAN to your subscriber pull-list. The book just gets better and better. Issues 14 to 16 will take your breath away and then Neil Gaiman takes over and the results are truly sponge-worthy!! I can’t wait!!!!
Here at Staff Picks Ltd (A Division of Renzicorp Intl.)–there are two types of books that we are drawn to: either books we recommend for personal reasons–love the characters, fan of the creative team, enjoy a particular storyline, etc. and then there are the books that we believe are indispensable and belong in every serious comic library. The first two volumes of Alan Moore and Kevin O’Neill’s League of Extraordinary Gentlemen (LoEG) belongs in the latter category; It is a must-read, must-own work of sequential art. Even if you haven’t read it (yet), you are most likely familiar with the premise– every work of British genre fiction from Shakespeare to HG Wells occurs in the same universe. The LoEG tells the story of an epic team-up of the greatest adventurers from the end of the 19th century. Much has been written about the challenging nature and overwhelming detail of the subsequent volumes (The Black Dossier and the three part Century) but it is these first two story arcs– offered in a single soft cover omnibus at a very affordable price–that will excite and delight any comic fan. LoEG belongs in the same library with Moore’s other comic epics–Watchmen, V for Vendetta and Swamp Thing. And for goodness sake, avoid the LoEG movie at all costs!
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..!
ANDY’S PICK :: HELLBLAZER #300: Ah, Johnny, we hardly knew ye! It’s the end of an era and (coming as no surprise to the world of monthly comics) the start of yet another new era. Writer Peter Milligan and artists Giuseppe Camuncoli & Stefano Landini along with cover artist extraordinaire Simon Bisley bid farewell to everyone’s favorite neer-do-well occultist in the dirty haunted trench coat. John Constantine was created by Alan Moore and
during the classic American Gothic storyline in Swamp Thing over 30(!) years ago. Since then, ol’ JC has been a Vertigo Universe stand-by. This landmark issue is the third and final part of the last storyline aptly titled “DEATH and Cigarettes”. Hellblazer has been a terrific series and it has proven to be the true flagship title of Vertigo Comics. You owe it to yourselves to give this issue a try. If you love it (and if you are a horror fan, I know you will!) then you will want to go back to the beginning and devour the trade paperbacks. They are legion and they are terrific. And for the love of comics forget that god forsaken movie!
My, how time flies! Can you believe that the Heroes Discussion Group is celebrating it’s 50th (that’s right, 50th!!) meeting already?!
Now for some of you this will come as no surprise, as you have been in attendance for most of these one-of-a-kind meeting of the minds, but for the rest of you who are reading this and asking yourself, “What’s the Heroes Discussion Group?”, here’s Heroes own Seth Peagler and Discussion Group moderator Andy Mansell to elaborate!
Be sure to join us on Saturday, November 3rd when the Heroes Discussion Group finally tackles the horror classic “From Hell”. The group meets at the shop at 1pm! Don’t miss it!
Just a reminder that the Heroes Discussion Group will celebrate its 50th meeting by examining From Hell—Alan Moore and Eddie Campbell’s retelling of the Whitechapel Murders attributed to Jack the Ripper.
If you plan to attend and haven’t read (or re-read) the book in a while, we recommend the following:
Please try to re-read these sections:
- The Prologue and Epilogue –Two old men on the Beach
- The final chapter — Gull goes on his final journey
- but especially– Chapter 4— where Gull takes Netley on a Masonic tour of England.
Topics to discuss will include:
The Freemasons, Queen Victoria, Fred Abberline, how the end-notes and Epilogue affect the reading experience, the role of the Media in creating a legend but above all, how Moore & Campbell walk that pesky tight-rope between fact and fiction.
We look forward to seeing you on Saturday November 3rd at 1:00pm. As usual, From Hell is available from Heroes with the 10% Discussion Group Discount–just remember to mention it when you check out.
And remember, in next couple of months we will examine the work of Gilbert Hernandez and Jeff Smith’s Bone!
50 Discussion Groups! We did it!!! Our thanks to all who have attended, contributed and supported this worthwhile venture of ours! And to celebrate this momentous anniversary, we are breaking out the big guns. Plan to join us on Saturday November 3rd at (the usual time) 1:00pm!!!!!!!! as we sit down to analyze and dissect (heh) From Hell— Alan Moore and Eddie Campbell’s epic fictional examination of the Whitechapel Murders historically attributed to the notorious Jack the Ripper.
This is no ordinary comic book. From Hell is filled with many intense passages where Moore and Campbell use their combined skills to draw the reader right into the world of late 19th Century London. All the filth, all the corruption, all the intrigue but above all– page after page of great storytelling and fabulous artwork. From Hell is a true tour-de-force.
But be forewarned: this is not “the feel good book of the fall“. From Hell is tough, it is gritty, it is adult but above all, it is magnificent. Due to its length and depth, it will take you quite a bit longer to read than most of our other Discussion Group books. So plan accordingly– we strongly suggest you read it in chapters. Don’t over do it and read too much in single sittings –the book can begin to overwhelm the reader.
Topics will include:
- The gray area between Historical Fiction and History Fact
- The tactics Moore and Campbell use to draw the reader into a seemingly familiar tale and then keep the reader guessing until the end
- The thematic role of the turning of the century
- The Freemasons
- How Moore and Campbell present the inner workings of an unhinged mind–especially…
- The flash forwards
- And….The footnotes (or end-notes). Although they are not required, many of them are worth reading and they add to the entire From Hell reading experience. As we get closer to November 3rd, we will provide a short list of End notes that we believe are crucial to the analysis of the story. But regardless–we urge you to read all of the end notes to chapter 4. It makes that particular chapter a true high water mark in comic literature! This is not an overstatement.
As usual, Heroes is offering the (patent pending) 10% Discussion Group Discount on From Hell. Just remember to mention it when you check out. Don’t forget we have Gilbert Hernandez Human Diastrophism and Jeff Smith’s masterpiece Bone coming up in the next few months!
All are welcome to join the discussion, but be aware that this is a book and a discussion strictly for grown ups. Even Freemasons will be welcome, but they better know the Heroes Discussion Group Handshake[TM] or they can go take a flying leap into the Thames. Bunch of tossers.