Part 1, Part 2

Andrew: Something I noticed while looking for a reference for something else — that anarchy/heart symbol we were wondering about is the symbol of the superhero flying out of the page in the blazing world section of The Black Dossier. Checking in with Nevins’ annotations of same (reading his annotations for this book before we’ve finished would be cheating, but the old books are fair game), we find that it’s the logo of Ace Hart (a British superhero, not the dog detective), which we all should have known as he appears in Zenith Phase III.

Adam: I like that I couldn’t link it back to a specific superhero, actually. I enjoyed having the space to meditate on how and why it might fit into the kind of space O’Neil and Moore were interested in constructing rather than just see it as a dry reference. So fanwank, yes, but not without purpose. Although the name ‘Ace Hart’ would probably just have added fuel to my reverie’s fire. I imagine Moore would have fun with the symbolic charge there.

Andrew: And one point I don’t think we made before, when discussing to what extent Moore is able to comment on the culture of 2009 as opposed to earlier decades, is just how few characters from 21st century fiction actually appear here. We’ve got the odd background character who doesn’t say or do anything, but in the whole book the only character with a speaking role to have been created in the decade in which the comic is supposedly set is Malcolm Tucker, who’s just a talking head on a TV. Even the Potter characters (none of whom except Potter have more than one line) were created in the mid-1990s — and other than them, there’s not a speaking character in the comic that originated post-1976.

This is a huge change from all the other League volumes, which mixed and matched eras, obviously, but showed a real in-depth knowledge of their time’s popular culture.

p54

Amy:

“And then there are all these flies.”

Like houses, or a world, you can swat.

One of the more disturbing things about this panel is the way it represents the intrusion of a vast abject space upon conventional, ordered reality. The derelict houses and the general destitution suggest something rotting somewhere, and now it’s made visible, like discovering a giant shit beneath your duvet. You may or may not agree with Moore’s point about the world between the brickwork being sick, but he and O’Neill make it forcibly and eloquently – flies in the walls, everything infested, the wallpaper now peeled back.

Orlando and Mina’s response is spot on too. There are precious few writers in comicdom, particularly adventure comics, who care to articulate how it would actually feel to be confronted with something like this. Superman would take it in his stride, but were Spiderman to be written by someone with an ounce of human understanding, the next time Galactus appeared on the New York skyline he’d be screaming for his dead mother. Mina’s lost all words, all she can do is bellow, and rightly so. O’Neill was right to have her clutch at her head, like this in information that won’t fit in there.

I love this image. The comic shakes.

Adam: Yes, it’s about the delivery, isn’t it? Over on his Playing D&D with Pornstars blog, Zak Smith recently made the point that to reduce fiction to allegory is to miss something fundamental about storytelling: it’s not all some act of deferral, a signpost pointing towards the really important stuff that resides in another text.

“…what I mean here is the wholesale reduction of everything in the work to just a mask for some other and more easily understood drama that sets what one of my teachers used to call the “demon of allegory” loose to drain it all of its enigma and poetry and lunatic majesty.”

A good story is it’s own thing, it has an energy, an atmosphere, it does things to you. It’s for that reason that I really like this comic despite having problems with some of things it seems to be saying – because the creative team are so very good indeed at doing things to me, things that I can’t get anywhere else.

These pages are a case in point.

Andrew:

“And LOOK! Here’s the HEAD I said about. It’s minging, isn’t it?”

So… an underlying… not theme, exactly, but set of imagery, in this volume of League in particular, is that of the Knights Templar. They were the supposed originators of Freemasonry (which, as we have seen, is behind both Haddo’s order and the secret service in the League’s world), and they also fought Muslims in the Crusades (much as Orlando was doing when we first saw hir in this volume).

The Templars were convicted of various ‘crimes’, such as blasphemy, occultism, and buggery, most of which they almost certainly never committed (the burden of proof in the early fourteenth century being not especially high), but one crime which they were convicted of which had never before been heard of was the worship of ‘Baphomet’.

Baphomet was probably a medieval French corruption of Mohammed, but the figure, portrayed as a giant goat-man, with breasts and wings, and with the words ‘solve’ and ‘coagula’ written on his arms, has become a huge figure in modern occultism.

In particular, Aleister Crowley thought that Baphomet was “the Androgyne who is the hieroglyph of arcane perfection… He is therefore Life, and Love”. The androgynous nature of Baphomet is notable here, as Crowley considered himself androgynous in the same way Baphomet is — a very masculine figure, but with breasts.

Crowley, in fact, took the name Baphomet as his motto in the OTO.

Crowley thought that Baphomet was symbolic of the magical child produced in sex magick — obviously, here, that magical child is given form in the shape of Harry Potter, Horus the conquering child with the personality of Azathoth, Lovecraft’s blind idiot god.

Crowley also said of Baphomet “his letter is ayin, the Eye” — which might explain Harry’s afflictions.

There’s also an alternative etymology of Baphomet which suggests that if you transliterate Baphomet into Hebrew, it’s an atbash cipher (swapping the first letter of the alphabet for the last, and so on) for Sophia — the goddess of wisdom, and cognate with Binah and Shekinah, the female aspect of God. So Baphomet can be said to be a reversal, or mirror, of Binah… bear that in mind as we go along.

But why am I talking here about a goat-god?

Because the original Baphomet wasn’t a goat-god at all. Rather, it was a severed, but undying, talking head. Just like Haddo is here. In fact, one of the attributions often given to the head is that it was the head of John The Baptist (beheaded, according to tradition, on September 11 of the modern calendar). And here, Haddo is very much a John The Baptist figure, the forerunner to Potter’s Antichrist.

One of the three surviving heads of John the Baptist.

p55

Amy: The colour of the sky should probably be remarked upon here. If anyone took the trouble last time to follow Andrew’s link to Alan Moore’s review of Kenneth Grant’s Against the Light: A Nightside Narrative, then by now you should be familiar with Grant’s mysterious ‘Mauve Zone’.

The Mauve Zone is associated with the Kabbalistic Sephirah/Not Sephirah, Daath, and refers to a kind of escape hatch that leads out of the Tree of Life, the schematic used by Jewish mystics and other occultists to describe Creation. Basically we can’t conceive of what lies beyond it. Many occult scholars view the Mauve Zone with trepidation, as a way into the Anti-Tree, the much maligned Qlippoth, warning that first contact with it will only lead to madness and death, but others, notably Grant and friends, saw it as a treasure house of secret knowledge. Alan Moore’s written about this space before

It’s where all reality, fact and fiction, is ground down to the juice. And right now it’s yawning wide above London Town.

“So I’m guessing you must be some sort of legendary hero after all. Are you, like, King Arthur?”

“Um…no. No, I just borrowed his sword. B–But I did used to be Roland.”

Roland is an interesting figure because he was a real man who became a myth, which is rather like what’s going on in this scene here. Mina and Orlando are two flesh and blood women – or should I say Mina and Orlando are performing like two flesh and blood women – who are simultaneously lines on a page, part of a story, a myth engaged in a battle with another myth. Moore is well aware of this ontological wobble. It’s one of the central concerns of the League. Harry doesn’t know it, but this is how myths look *on the ground*.

Andrew: I also only just discovered this yesterday, but Robert Shea, the co-author with Robert Anton Wilson of the Illuminatus! trilogy (obviously a huge influence on this comic), wrote a prequel to Illuminatus!, set during the crusades, and dealing with the occult. I’ve no idea how connected it is to this, as I’ve not yet had a chance to read it, but I’d bet it’d shed at least some light on this comic. Its hero is also named Roland, and so he may well be one of Orlando’s earlier personas. It can be read here.

Amy: The way that eye turns Harry’s foot into a beastie! Who knew superconsciousness would be so disgusting?

p56

Andrew: In the panel with Norton saying “Humh. Mega”, who’s the bloke with the eyebrows? It’s been bothering me since I first read this

Amy: You know what? I can’t be bothered to play spot the reference with this page. There’s some people from Little Britain, and that time travelling Japanese chap from Heroes who’s well into the apocalypse.

There.

p57

Amy: So of course Captain Nemo is only pretending to play the mad, nuke happy fanatic. I agree with Adam that this side of things could have been a bit more fleshed out. As it is Nemo never felt like a real threat, just a bit of shading, so dramatically speaking this scene kind of falls flat on its face. I say ‘kind of’ though, because in every other respect it’s very intriguing.

While ze looks like a reject from a Megadog rave circa 95, Mister Ishmael’s current iteration also puts one in mind of another, more interesting late nineties creation: Grant Morrison’s Nons. In case you’ve never read The Invisibles, the Nons were intended to represent a new type of human who’d given up rigid gender roles and so would be far better adapted to a post-2012 world where ‘all is one and everything is none’. In the comics the Nons are the product of LaCoste, an experimental libertine community run by the spectre of the Marquis De Sade and in many key respects probably very similar to Nemo’s own colony on Lincoln Island, which in the League books has always been a safe space for individuals who would otherwise struggle to fit into straight society. This is how Mina describes the Island in 1897:

“The shanty town, for so it proved to be when we finally reached it, was both more extensive and well built than I’d anticipated, with its buildings rising up the slopes in ladder-accessed terraces, and graceful (although sturdy) walkways of bamboo and hawser strung between them. This novel settlement was also not by any means so mean or bleak as I’d imagined, with instead bright colour and outlandish decorations everywhere, both on its house-fronts and upon its population. These I estimated to be several dozen persons of of almost as many nationalities, or which men comprised by far the greater part, although they numbered many women and some children in their ranks besides. I noticed some men walking hand in hand, both with each other or with younger boys, and so concluded Lincoln Isle to be a province founded on anarchist principles, providing haven for the deviants….. be they political or sexual by inclination…. of the world and all its countries, in a type of libertine utopia, such was exampled by Port Royal in the Caribbean and its many kindred pirate sanctuaries.”

(bobsy: there’s a Cities of the Red Night thing here too – I doubt Verne had gays on Lincoln Island, but they’re through a Burroughsian lens here.)

And now we realise, as with LaCoste, that Lincoln Isle was only intended as a temporary haven, a place where its denizens could bide their time until the world grew big enough to accommodate them. Ishmael isn’t transitioning from sex to sex, this is how ze is. Ze’s the polymorphously perverse future. The true child of Captain Nemo – Captain “No One”.

“Our African interests and this business are both smokescreens covering what we’re building on Lincoln Island. The new ship. The new Nautilus…. Which we may need sooner than anticipated if the condition of the sky is anything to go by.”

Where can you go if the world’s about to end?

In Robert Anton Wilson’s Schrodinger’s Cat trilogy, Nemo analogue Hagbard Celine creates a submarine that can travel not just underwater, but between dimensions. This is the type of submarine Nemo’s building. Fact.

(Oddly, Nemo’s the only character in this book who’s wearing anything like a contemporary haircut. He actually looks rather stylish.)

p58-59

Amy: Note how the 999 on Orlando’s chest converts to a 666 when Harry backhands her – nice touch.

Andrew: The odd thing about Harry’s claim to be ‘in a book of the Bible and everything’ is that this character bears absolutely no relation to either of the two Great Beasts in Revelation (I’m assuming here that his claim is that he’s one of the Great Beasts — the Antichrist appears in more than one book of the Bible, and since Crowley claimed to be the Great Beast 666 we can assume Haddo thinks of himself as the first of the Great Beasts.)

In fact, I suspect that Moore has got himself confused between the two (evil) Great Beasts on the side of Satan and the four (good) Beasts who (according to some interpretations) represent the four Evangelists:

“And before the throne there was a sea of glass like unto crystal: and in the midst of the throne, and round about the throne, were four beasts full of eyes before and behind.
And the first beast was like a lion, and the second beast like a calf, and the third beast had a face as a man, and the fourth beast was like a flying eagle.
And the four beasts had each of them six wings about him; and they were full of eyes within: and they rest not day and night, saying, Holy, holy, holy, LORD God Almighty, which was, and is, and is to come.”

Having ‘a face as a man’ but ‘full of eyes within’ sounds a lot more like the character Moore and O’Neill portray here than any of the descriptions of the Great Beasts.

I suspect Moore’s got confused about the various beasts and taken a description that applies to the wrong one, and thought it sounded good.

Amy: And Allan’s back.

With *that* gun. His gun.

This is an act of off-screen derring-do all of itself.

Andrew: And this goes back to the background/foreground thing we talked about earlier — the only way to defeat an evil that grew up off-page is to do all the preparation off-page yourself.

Amy: O’Neill lives to draw panels like the first one on page 59. An utterly revolting image if ever there was one. In fact, so revolting that I’m trying to get these pages out the way as quickly as I can so my girlfriend no longer has to put up with them on my book-stand ranking her out.

The eyes are the worst thing about it, particularly the implication, on this and on panel three, that they’re growing on Harry’s insides too – an ectopic nightmare, where no matter how many of them you blow away you know they’re always going to grow back (on this note, I don’t know if it was intentional but there’s a concertina type quality to all the mushy viscera, as though it’s about to spring back into place). The exploded ribs, like bloody spines, are horrible too.

As are penises with eyes (dig the way the three mouthed hand holding it is plotting evil!)

This is the page where Allan Quatermain proves that old myths ain’t goin’ out like that. It’s the final battle a hero has to face, isn’t it, the one with himself?

p60

Amy: Finally Alan has Harry put away that bloody wand and reached for the real source of all that expelliarmussing. It’s juvenile, Harry’s juvenile, but it also speaks to a character who’s disenchanted with all he’s been through, all the whomping whufflepuffing, an angry kid who’s seen through his conditioning and decided to cut through the shit and get real (Grr! Potter ain’t for kids anymore!). Pissing on Quatermain is also a disdainful act and a macho one (“My fiction’s bigger than yours!”) and I have nothing against Moore going with this. People’s weird relationship with sex and with their own private parts is something barely in evidence at all in not just comics but most fiction. I can easily imagine a character with Harry’s powers doing what he does here. Why not? Last week someone probably far less fucked up than Harry smeared their poo all over our work toilet wall…. I think some people read this sort of thing and all they see is Moore going for shock value, and he is, but he’s also touching on something very real – violent people often have violent, or at least quite odd, sexualities…. But more to the point, we all have sexualities and Moore wants to talk about that! Thinking about it now, it’s probably one of the reasons why Moore’s comics seem hung up on rape, because it’s just another facet of the extreme violence that suffuses adventure stories, only one that’s normally shied away from.

Adam: Suffuses adventure stories and reality.

Andrew: You read that as urinating? I thought he was “sacrificing a male child of perfect innocence and high intelligence”, as it were…

Masturbation seems to have been the key to magic in the view of both Spare and Crowley. Crowley talked of the highest awakening being caused by sacrificing a child — “the sacrifice of oneself spiritually. And the intelligence and innocence of that male child are the perfect understanding of the Magician, his one aim, without lust of result. And male he must be, because what he sacrifices is not the material blood, but his creative power.”

(By sacrificing a child he meant sacrificing the possibility of a child, by ejaculating somewhere other than inside the vagina of a fertile woman).

Spare, meanwhile, believed that sigils should be charged at the moment of orgasm. Is Potter here inadvertantly turning Quartermain into something more powerful when he kills him, by concentrating on him as he ejaculates? It’d explain Quartermain’s ghostly presence at the end (Aslan Quartermain…)

(On a more prosaic note, Quartermain here looks exactly like he’s been shot by a Dalek).

Amy: The electric drip as Harry shakes his dick off!

“….Fucking repulsive piece of mekrob…”

I didn’t know this, I thought mekrob was Urdu for shit or something, but actually this cuss word (which kinda does mean shit) was first popularised by one E. Cartman of South Park, Colorado and it refers to his most hated food stuff.

Anyway, all this dragon slaying is a much better outlet for Orlando’s periodic bouts of psychopathy than the indiscriminate slaughter of fellow servicemen and civilians. Just keep them adventuring…. This ties in with what Allan was saying earlier in the book about the adventuring fucking them all up. Once you’ve tasted that high, the day to day must seem pretty flat.

p61

Amy:

“I could, like, sue you and shit?”

Harry’s a very well protected property.

Panel three, and again with the implication that Harry’s spilled guts will cycle around and end up back where they started. Further to what I was just saying above, it seems right that Harry should be huge and invulnerable, rather like he currently is in our world (and especially in 2009 when the films were still far from over).

Andrew:

“Oh God.”

And of course Mary Poppins is God.

Amy: Well, yes, but it’s a bit more complicated than that….

p62

Amy: It pays to reread back issues of the League before embarking on these posts. I had a vague recollection that Mina and co. had encountered Mary Poppins before, but – oh wow…..

Their first ‘on-screen’ meeting took place in the Blazing World sequence at the end of The Black Dossier. Check out this brief exchange between Orlando and She Who Shall Not be Named:

“Aha! Mary!”

“Can’t stop! This current generation of children need sorting out spit-spot. Goodbye!”

And with that she takes to the air and disappears off panel.

And now we have a pretty good idea of who she was talking about and where she was going. The Blazing World exists outwith normal time, and so even though Mina’s League enter it from 1958, it actually serves as a departure point to any time zone, including 2009. Something I neglected to mention above was that I translated the dialogue from backwards-speak to conventional English, and this is relevant because there’s a reason why, from Orlando’s point of view, Mary speaks in reverse – because she moving differently through time. She’s the future interacting with the past.

Just before the team bump into Mary, Orlando tells them that Captain Nemo is currently docked in the Blazing World’s submarine pens, and now I can’t help but wonder: which Nemo? Probably Janni. But is it Janni from the 1950s league’s time zone, or…the 1920s? Will Heart of Ice, which sees Nemo head Antarcticwards, include a Black Dossier deleted scene?

Place yer bets.

Adam: If Nemo is building a sub that can move through dimensions…

Amy: Hmmm. Maybe. But they never mention having met Jack Dakkar, not as a fully grown man.

Andrew: And I must be an absolute idiot, but I never realised until I saw the drawing of her here that Mrs Baylock, the nanny in The Omen, is obviously based on Mary Poppins.

p63

Amy: The question of who Mary Poppins actually is should be fairly easy to answer for anyone who slogged through the marathon Kabbalah lec..I mean story arc in Promethea. The clue’s in her first name…. Mary is a manifestation of the sephirah Binah, and with a little inspection it seems she embodies both of the sphere’s attributes. A nanny (read: mother) to all, she’s the bottomlessly compassionate Marie, but, stern house-frau that she is and consort to the filthiest and most ‘fallen’ of all the victorian/edwardian stock characters, the chimney sweep, she also doubles up as Babylon. Her stated concern for ‘the healthy development’ of childrens’ imagination just serves to underline this promethean connection (and Moore’s concern, if it was ever in doubt, that Harry Potter is the imaginative equivalent of poison).

Here we see her in her dark, wrathful, babylonian aspect, as evidenced by her umbrella whose normally friendly, talkative decorative parrot head, now resembling something closer to a vulture than a bird of paradise, has shed its feathers, withered and died. This is a Mary for the end times, for Revelation….

Then again, this could all be bullshit and she’s just some rock hard bit of fiction…

Andrew: I don’t think so — she quite specifically says she’s on every page of the Bible. This is Shekinah, Binah, Sophia, the Mary whose magnificat quotes Sirach, and the personification of Wisdom that Sirach writes of, a personification who is so similar to the Jesus of John’s Gospel. This is not just another fictional character — this is the Word made flesh.

Amy: One thing, and this is probably completely irrelevant – I couldn’t help noticing that the children in the Mary Poppins film are made to drink Red and Green ‘medicine’, perhaps to help them get a little closer to the Blazing World.

p64-65

Adam:

“Wait, do you mean we’ve averted Armageddon?”

“Of cuh-course not. The strange… and terrible… new aeon… is unavoidable… …I am not… to be.. it’s huh-harbinger. That honour falls to you”

I’d say that guarantees that Moore plans to go beyond this volume with these characters, although it also has the slightly unfortunate side-effect of making all this stuff with Potter seem like a sideshow.

Amy: See what I mean about Harry being a modern day dragon? I like Moore and dragons. Morningbright was excellent.

Adam: Lots of eyes on Morningbright too.

Amy: And we always knew that the inauguration of the glorious sci-fi future, the strange and terrible new aeon, would fall to Mina and chums. In some ways I’m surprised Haddo failed – is that how Moore ultimately understands Crowley, as a failure? – but, then again, maybe he didn’t. Maybe his plan was an arabesque within Faerie and the Blazing World’s larger design, etc.

Andrew: “I rocked the fretful baby gods to sleep” — a reference to Neil Gaiman’s short story The Problem Of Susan in which (in a story within the story) Poppins is Jesus’ Nanny. Gaiman’s story (in his book Fragile Things) with its look at childhood fantasy fiction through a very different lens, is very much essential reading for those looking to read around Century 2009, although I’d advise reading Andrew Rilstone’s essay Lipstick On My Scholar (available in his book Do Balrogs Have Wings or on his blog) as a necessary corrective.

(Amy: Like Rilstone muchly, but wasn’t entirely convinced by that. Don’t think it’s too much of a big deal to concede that Lewis probably would have been a bit of a sexist using the evidence to hand.)

Andrew: The argument isn’t so much that Lewis wasn’t sexist — he clearly was — but that he didn’t believe (as Rowling and, to a lesser extent, Pullman) have claimed, that women who wore lipstick were doomed to be damned for all eternity.

“The quarters of the world are bound unto my compass”

— in the original Mary Poppins book, Poppins and the Banks children visit various different countries using her magical compass.

“I know what the bee knows”

– P L Travers, the creator of Mary Poppins, was another literary mystic, introduced to much of the Golden Dawn’s teaching by W B Yeats, before becoming a follower of Gurdjieff (who she writes about here). (Incidentally, Gurdjieff met Crowley once – “The children were there, and he said to one of the boys something about his son who he was teaching to be a devil. Gurdjieff got up and spoke to the boy, who thereupon took no further notice of Crowley. There was some talk between Crowley and Gurdjieff, who kept a sharp watch on him all the time. I got the strong impression of two magicians, the white and the black- the one strong, powerful, full of light; the other also powerful but heavy, dull and ignorant.” — according to Gurdjieff’s pupil C S Nott).

Travers later in life wrote a book, What The Bee Knows: Reflections on Myth, Symbol And Story:

Our profane life is full of these hidden meanings, of clues that we are at pains to find but pass by, not knowing what to look for—or, more exactly, how to let meaning discover us…

Myth, by design, makes it clear that we are meant to be something more than our own personal history. It places us—and it is not a comfortable position—squarely between the opposing forces that keep us, and the world, in balance—the two Earth Shapers, benign and malignant, checking and disciplining each other to produce a viable whole. One has only to think of Prometheus, forethought, and Epimetheus, his unfortunate brother; or Ahura Mazda and Angra Mainyu, the light and dark of Zoroastrianism; of the Hindu Vishnu and Shiva, preserver and destroyer; of the Navajo Water-Child, born of the rivers, and Monster-Slayer, born of fire—the cool flowing sap of one and the solar heat of the other; the angels and devils of Christianity.

The relevance to Century should be obvious.

Amy: So it makes perfect sense that Moore would play Mary as a mystical force. There’s clearly a proper context to it, and a fascinating one.

Andrew: I’d be very surprised, actually, if Moore hadn’t read this particular article from a Theosophical magazine when planning Century. The quotes from Blavatsky which she uses to parallel Poppins sound very like the speech Mary makes as she descends.

And reading that article, it reminded me of something that almost certainly has some significance — Mary Poppins is described in the books as looking “rather like a wooden Dutch doll”, and her appearance is based on this doll. Is there some connection between her and Peg and Sarah Jane?

p66-67

Amy: In both the books and the film Mary Poppins takes her young charges on a daytrip inside a chalk mural drawn on the pavement outside Hyde Park, the power of imagination unlocking a whole world within the artwork. This sequence, which sees a flesh and blood person (if Harry can still technically be described that way) convert to a chalk drawing, is the exact opposite of the scene in the original text(s). Maybe it’s best understood as Mary reducing Harry’s nature to what it is, a two dimensional drawing on a page. Starving him of imagination instead of feeding him with it.

Or just plain killing him.

Andrew: OR, if we’re identifying Mary Poppins with Babalon and thus with Binah, and we want everyone to have a happy ending, then this could be a case of “solve et coagula” — dissolving Potter on the material level so he can be fixed, mentally, on the spiritual level.

(Oddly, Crowley referred to this process — going through the abyss and coming out purified — as becoming NEMO)

I keep thinking there is some kind of additional symbolism going on here — Potter suggests clay, and golems, and God creating Adam, so we have clay turning to chalk, or… something? This is the problem with analysing such a dense text, of course, one can never be sure after a while if one is finding stuff that’s been deliberately put there, or engaging in a sort of textual pareidola, like the people who think Finnegans Wake predicted John Lennon’s murder.

I don’t know… is there something there, or am I reading too much into it?

Adam: In reference to dissolving him so he can be fixed mentally, what would that look like? How would that manifest in-text? It doesn’t work for me as a possibility.

Amy: It works for me. We could simply meet Harry in some kind of ascended form later on. Remember Quentin Quire?

That reminds me, there’s some more crossover here between Morrison and Moore….

Andrew: Someone really, really needs to write a book on the parallels and differences in the use of magic in the work and thought of Moore and Morrison. And that someone is… someone with a lot more time than me.

Any PhD literature students out there looking for a thesis topic?

Amy: I’m specifically thinking about the end of Final Crisis here, where the ‘bad fiction’, Mandrakk, is finally overcome by the ‘good fiction’ of the combined DCU, rabbit superheroes and all. Morrison, like Moore, probably sees bad fictions as being composed of limiting as opposed to liberating ideas (ideas conducive to imaginative development). It’s up to the reader to decide if that’s the case here, but at the very least Moore and O’Neill are doing a good propaganda job on Mary Poppins. Personally I disagree with one of our lovely commentators on the issue of Poppins and Harry being from like universes. The magic in Poppins is wild, strange and marvellous (even a little ridiculous, like rabbit superheroes) it won’t quite fit in your head, but, well, as anyone reading these posts by now probably realises, broadly speaking I don’t think that’s the case with the magic in Potter at all.

I do, however, like to imagine that Uncle Albert lives on Diagon Alley. So much of Poppins’ London has a similar atmosphere to Potter’s, but one that makes good on all that implied secret weirdness.

Just a few thoughts about the art/art direction.

The final panel on page 66, which sees Mary perched parrot-like (but at an impossible angle) on Harry’s shoulder, is wonderful, as is the last panel on 67 where he’s washing away. The chalk eyes, like colourful runny eggs, separating from the main body and running down the drain are so imaginatively abject that I find them difficult to talk about without feeling a little queasy.

p68-69

Amy: I think it has something to do with the way they retain their integrity despite this ultimate, and hopefully final, reduction. Harry couldn’t get rid of the eyes when he was alive and they’re still a problem even now that they’ve been transformed to chalk. Watching Mina and Orlando splishing through puddles of them is just plain gross.

It occurs to me that Ms. Poppins and the mysterious Smarra Haddo worships are two aspects of the same goddess (in Descent of the Gods, Haddo directly compares Smarra to both Ishtar the mother goddess and Babalon), which would explain why he’s so scared when Mary takes him away. This is *his* goddess he’s angered, the goddess for whom he believed he was initiating the apocalypse in the first place.

The apocalypse represents the drawing down of Heaven onto Earth, collapsing a primordial divide that various parties at various points in history have attempted to destroy or bridge. Haddo speaks of the ancient Greek Heroes as one of these first, ultimately doomed, attempts to fuse the material and the divine:

“If Homer is to be believed, the siege of Troy was engineered by the Greek gods and goddesses, deliberately, to cull the hero race that they themselves had sired decades before, only to see the hybrids’ human qualities collapse under the weight of their divine inheritance, producing vain and strutting homicidal monsters.”

Haddo should’ve heeded Homer’s warning. The Moonchild is a child of the Imaginal, Yesod, the first rung on the ladder to the divine, but that child needs to be properly prepared for its destiny, not abused from the word go. And who’s to say that the term Moonchild refers to an individual? The coming buddha, Maitreya, is believed by many to represent a new type of awareness which will incarnate in an entire generation. And isn’t that the point of the moonchild anyway, that ze creates a new world not just for hirself but for everyone?

And, yes, after all they’ve been through Prospero does indeed look like an ‘old bastard’ for simply abandoning Mina and Orlando. We’re very definitely being encouraged to side with the humans here, but I have a feeling that come volume four the gods will reward them very generously indeed.

Adam: As much as Poppins impressed me, I wish Moore had been a little less overwrought with his references and implications. O’Neil’s shadows, those enigmatic illuminations offered by the lightning, they don’t just suggest the end times, divine conflict, etc… they suggest mystery. In fact all that otherworldly power is at its best when it’s mysterious. Watching the end of Raiders of the Lost Ark a couple of nights ago I was forcibly reminded of this point: the power of God speaks for itself (not that I’m religious, you understand), it doesn’t need to dress itself up in a load of dialogue. Which isn’t to say that some dialogue wouldn’t have added weight to the scene and of course some much needed exposition, but I could have done without lines like “I’m on every page of the bible”.

As I said in our last post’s comments, in my view Moore biggest weakness as a writer is his tendency to over-write – when you have an artist as articulate as Kevin O’Neil at your disposal I’d say that’s something you need to be particularly careful of.

Amy: But on the other hand most of the dialogue is pretty awesome and poetic. “I’ve taken tea with earthquakes….” It’s only the bible line that clunks with me. Although I do read it in Mary Poppins’ voice.

Adam: It’s the quantity and persistent volume. Less can be more, Mr Moore.

p70-71

Andrew: These are two of the Avengers girls, Purdey (from the New Avengers) and Tara King (who replaced Emma Peel).

Amy:

“Christ. He smells more of smoke than I do.”

This character is a composite of Joanna Lumley’s best known roles, The secret agent ‘Purdey’ (always more of an nickname/codename than a straightforward name) from The New Avengers and Patsy, the booze guzzling, chain smoking professional hanger on from British sit-com Absolutely fabulous. Amusingly Patsy claims in various episodes of Ab Fab that she ‘can’t remember’ much of her life pre 1968, but that she has vague recollections of having been a Bond Girl – so if we move the temporal goalposts around a little bit (The New Avengers aired in 1976) Moore’s amalgamation of both characters would appear to have a tenuous precedent. Personally I enjoy the idea of Patsy as a cover for the secret agent who, it seems, never entirely gave up her day job. A kind of female Bruce Wayne, only with more fags.

Andrew: Or Patsy could be Lumley’s character in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service — from 1969 — who could also be Purdey infiltrating Blofeld’s gang. Which would fit in nicely with the Honor Blackman amalgamation. Just a shame that Diana Rigg’s character in that got shot in the head and died at the end…

Amy: She was probably both!

“I suppose it’s that we all used to be in love with the same man.”

John Steed.

Although Steed’s relationships with his female partners were marked by sexual tensions, most fans believe his heart truly belonged to Emma Peel.

Amy: Ever since The Black Dossier, I’ve always considered it quite likely that Peel, having lost both her father and her godfather in the space of a couple of years, may have developed a fixation with older men, and that in her husband’s absence Steed became its primary focus. It explains a lot, like for instance why their relationship, according to Rigg, described an endless flirtation that went nowhere…..all the way through to Macnee’s inverse assertion that off screen they were doing it like rabbits. Personally I prefer Brian Clemens suggestion that they had a brief fling before Peel made her onscreen debut in season four, with one of them, or even both, recognising Peel’s unhealthy (in an espionage, life or death context) predilections for what they were and deciding early on that if their partnership was going to work they had to keep things strictly professional. Well… Not strictly professional, but you know what I mean.

It also positions Peel’s constantly saving Steed’s life as a kind of peculiar job based therapy.

One fascinating titbit that I picked up during all my digging around the subject was the information, entirely new to me, that in his youth Steed put paid to Etonian uber-bully, James Bond (as related by one Tim Held in his book, John Steed: An Authorized Biography). Oh, the irony, that Peel’s father substitute (if that’s what Steed was) was the man who bested her actual father’s killer…. And how perfectly suited does that make them as a pairing? I wonder if she ever found out – they must have talked about Bond, and Steed’s contempt for him surely came through from time to time. Bond’s the anti-Steed, a quintessential English gentleman who’s no gentleman at all.

Adam: That’s wonderful. Their attitudes towards women are almost diametrically opposed. Bond fucks them or beats them, depending upon his need/mood, Steed fosters long-term, ostensibly chaste relationships based on mutual respect and good humour.

p72-73

Andrew: Cathy Gale (from The Avengers) and Pussy Galore (from Goldfinger), both played by Honor Blackman, are the same person, as suggested by Millennium Dome. There’s actually a tiny bit of ‘canonical’ evidence for this, as Steed refers to Gale “pussy-footing along those sun-soaked shores” and suggests she might “do a little investigating” in her last story, as a tip of the hat to the role Blackman was leaving the show for.

Amy: A huge shout out has to go to Ben Dimagmaliw for the awesomeness of his palette. We’ve talked before about how the League comics are *lit* and the transition between the sodden black murk of the last few pages and golden African twilight of this last sequence more than confirms us in this view. The earth, the mountains and the sky are merged, a field of light, a space one expands into as opposed to shrinking from. Overleaf everything felt so dense and wet – Britain closing in – but now we can breathe again. You can just feel Mina drinking it all in. Even her clothes are loose and easy, her hair tied in a loose bun – everything soft. It’s warm here. Allan’s come home.

Very excellent.

Speaking of Mina’s clothes, I’ve just spent a good 15 mins hunting through my League comics to see if I could find where Mina’s worn this outfit before. Turns out she hasn’t. But it feels like classic Mina, doesn’t it? That grey blue is totally Pre 1910 Mina Murray, as is the red scarf, and, I suppose, the hairstyle. We’re going back in time here, aren’t we, saying goodbye to that old myth Allan Quatermain? Mina has to dress for the occasion. 1898 is finally being laid to rest.

The problem with the staggered nature of these posts and having a comments section is that sometimes our readers, able to comment on the whole text rather than twenty page installments, will make a point before we do. But this isn’t to say that we weren’t already thinking it. A case in point is the, for the most part, girl powered league we’re left with at the end of this volume. I don’t think anyone could’ve missed this really, and, yeah, I want to say a few words about it here.

Mina’s first league was dominated by the worst kind of alpha males – large groups of ridiculously garbed alpha males being commonly understood as code for ‘heroism’ – and by allowing a traditionally male space, the adventure story, to be hijacked by two women and a queer, I believe Moore, a writer who’s always been very sympathetic to feminism (if not always entirely beloved by feminists themselves), is making a particularly barbed point. In our last post I talked about the way that, throughout 2009, Mina and Orlando cooperated with and supported each other, but what I didn’t mention was the stark contrast between their and the 1898 league’s approach to adventuring. Moore understands that in terms of actually getting the job done the aggression dominated dynamic of so many superhero books would be, if anything, in real life completely useless. And it’s interesting, because in the third volume the heroes wrestle with a ‘softer’ opponent, Time, but this opponent proves more dangerous than any mad professor or martian, as though the adventure story itself began to resist its own historically qualified definition. And that’s just it, with Century I believe Moore was trying to find a way into a new type of adventure story, one that’s inclusive, indeed insists upon inclusion because it very clearly demonstrates the lethal consequences of an overabundance of testosterone; where a whole range of emotions usually absent from superhero comics are expressed, including fear and love (and specifically female rage); and where the ‘adventure’ component relies less on punching and a brand of spectacle that translates to explosions. It’s a shame Allan Quatermain needed to be sacrificed along the way, but given the nature of this new frontier and the types of pioneers who are properly equipped to explore it, it makes a lot of sense.

Adam: Yes, it’s all women on these final pages, no men at all. We’re a world away from masculine monsters of volume one. “Life’s a bitch” – does anyone think Moore didn’t choose that dialogue very carefully?

p74

Amy: So, goodbye Allan.

Adam: Goodbye all you jungle kings and lords, all you jungle boys. All you Zulu warriors. All you great white hunters.

Amy: I guess we have to keep in mind that, except for Mina, everyone — everyone — who comprised the Victorian league is now dead. That’s got to fuck you up with or without having been in love with one of them. But for the reasons outlined above, I think this is a hopeful ending. You see, the claustrophobia I mentioned before was one of the century old Orlando/Mina/Allan love triangle’s defining features – and now that’s over. Not only that, but they’ve finally broken the streak. The Murray group has its first new member in close to one hundred years.

The League is dead……

LONG LIVE THE LEAGUE!

———————————-

Join us in a few days for the final part of our League thoughts

61 Responses to “League of Extraordinary Gentlemen Century: 2009 thoughts – part three”

  1. Mindless Ones » Blog Archive » League of Extraordinary Gentlemen Century: 2009 thoughts plus Says:

    [...] Part 1, Part 3 [...]

  2. Mindless Ones » Blog Archive » League of Extraordinary Gentlemen Century: 2009 thoughts Says:

    [...] Part 2, Part 3 [...]

  3. More Me On The Mindless Ones « Sci-Ence! Justice Leak! Says:

    [...] Part Three of the League Of Extraordinary Gentlemen posts features me, Adam Mindless and Amypoodle (and a cameo from Bobsy), talking about The Avengers (Steed version), Alesieter Crowley, C.S. Lewis, Mary Poppins, the Knights Templar, the Kaballah, Harry Potter and mekrob. [...]

  4. Islington Comic Forum Says:

    Like it. Like it a lot. Thanks!

  5. Pat Says:

    It’s interesting that considering this is supposedly about the decline of culture, this issue is the only one in the volume that ends on a good note. The 1910 issue ended with an incompetent League, the 1969 issue ended with a feeling of hopelessness, but now, at the end of century, the League, although completely forgotten by history, has finally done something right.
    Allan’s death was tragic, but it’s also heroic. Very heroic. Reminds me of Harry Luck’s death in the Magnificent Seven, when after abandoning the group, he comes riding back into town, and gives up his life to save Chris. But, in the end, despite Allan’s death, the scene in Africa offers the first bit of hope in Century. Mina seems ready to put the whole ordeal behind her, and move on to better times. Allan’s funeral finally puts to rest the heroes of the Victorian League and promises something new (although I would like to see old Quartermain again).

  6. Papers Says:

    It’s funny to read the remark about the lack of characters actually created during the decade in question, given that if Moore had wanted, he could have found a fair few that would actually work into his point in different ways quite easily (Say, if there had been a storm that granted a bunch of idiots a series of totally useless and horrifying super-powers…).

    Poppins stuff is bang on, particularly the shock of lightning relating to the ineffability of the fictive divine. I hadn’t read O’Neill’s drawing as Potter becoming chalk, mostly because I don’t have a clear enough memory of Poppins, BUT it does have an interesting resonance with the way fiction “dies” out as it stops being read, existing only as a foundation for newer works inspired by it. Even if Potter’s crap, there’s still stuff that other people will find to work with in the future, etc.

  7. Tim Vermeulen (@CormansInferno) Says:

    Perhaps it’s just lazy storytelling, but maybe Poppins’ “I am Queen Shit of Meta-Text” speech is a nod to the tendency of the new Doctor Who to give long speeches about how much of a badass he is (I’m thinking of the first Moffat-helmed episode in particular). Could Mary Poppins also be a Time Lord in addition to the word made flesh?

    I’m slightly disappointed Moore apparently has no truck with anything Time-Warner, because the Venture Brothers would fit perfectly into his world of decaying 60s’ gee-whizism, and is brilliant at practicing the cultural “thievery” he gives the thumbs-up to. I’ll admit I was also a little bummed there weren’t some Hawthorne Wipes or Sweetums Candy in the rack at the convenience store since 30 Rock showed up for the party.

  8. Carlos Caballero Says:

    I love these posts! Please do a Minions of the Moon segment!

    Maybe you thought it was too spot-the-reference, but U2 Mysterious Ways has a few connections to the Mary Poppins scene in the rain, and Potter “on his knees” and “slip slidin’” away. I don’t know much about U2, or that song. Maybe there’s more to it than that. Honestly, this reference made me cringe a bit.

  9. Adam Says:

    Carlos, assuming it actually is a reference. I suspect that it isn’t intended as one even if there are parallels, but I suppose it’s possible.

    Tim, re Who I really doubt it. You only need to look to Moore’s body of work to find precedent for Poppin’s speechifying. I’d think Promethea (and any number of other works) before I’d think Who.

    Also, I suspect that the lack of Time Warner isn’t based on prejudice so much as ignorance.

  10. HP Says:

    >Harry’s claim to be ‘in a book of the Bible and everything’

    Book of Daniel?

  11. amypoodle Says:

    I guarantee, Carlos, that there’s no U2 reference. Alan Moore is not into U2. The ‘She moves in mysterious ways’ line is intended to connect Poppins to the divine, not to Bono…. Bono VOX (that was a Brasseye reference).

    So don’t worry. Nothing to cringe about. ‘He moves in mysterious ways’ is a line ripe for feminist detournement.

  12. Andrew Hickey Says:

    HP — I don’t think so. The antichrist also appears in John’s epistles. I think Revelation is the obvious intention — I just don’t think Moore is hugely familiar with what Revelation actually says.

  13. HP Says:

    Andrew Hickey Says:
    HP — I don’t think so. The antichrist also appears in John’s epistles. I think Revelation is the obvious intention — I just don’t think Moore is hugely familiar with what Revelation actually says.
    ——————————————

    Oh, I see, I thought it was just an allusion to Daniel Radcliffe.

  14. amypoodle Says:

    !

  15. bobsy Says:

    Good spot – definitely worth quoting those U2 lyrics in full:

    Johnny take a walk with your sister the moon
    Let her pale light in to fill up your room
    You’ve been living underground
    Eating from a can
    You’ve been running away
    From what you don’t understand:
    Love

    She’s slippy
    Your’re sliding down
    She’ll be there when you hit the ground

    It’s alright, it’s alright, alright
    She moves in mysterious ways
    It’s alright, it’s alright, alright
    She moves in mysterious ways
    Ah…ah…ah…

    Johnny take a dive with your sister in the rain
    Let her talk about the things you can’t explain
    To touch is to heal
    To hurt is to steal
    If you wanna kiss the sky
    Better learn how to kneel
    On your knees boy!

    She’s the wave
    She turns the tide
    She sees a man inside the child

    It’s alright, it’s alright, alright
    She moves in mysterious ways
    It’s alright, it’s alright, alright
    She moves in mysterious ways
    It’s alright, it’s alright, alright
    Lift my days, light up my nights

    One day you will look back
    And you’ll see
    Where you were held
    How? By this love
    While you could stand there
    You could move on this moment
    Follow this feeling

    It’s alright, it’s alright, alright
    She moves in mysterious ways
    It’s alright, it’s alright, alright
    She moves in mysterious ways
    It’s alright, it’s alright, alright

    We move through miracle days
    Spirit moves in mysterious ways
    She moves with it
    She moves with it
    Lift my days, light up my nights

    Interesting wikipedia article on the subject: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mysterious_Ways_%28song%29

    And of course who doesn’t want the link to the video? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TxcDTUMLQJI

  16. amypoodle Says:

    That was mean. Sorry, Carlos, Bobsy is nice…. but also EVIL.

  17. bobsy Says:

    On the androgyny thing, Crowley had a thin, high-pitched voice too, which he hated. Imagine the Haddo-head with a whiny, stereotypically effete & over-educated accent.

    This is where grand high poobah of mittelEnglandshire is engaging in a bit of the old, hilariously smallbeer ‘magickal politics’. By having Crowley-as-Baphomet (B, followed by C together having provided the core of Western magickal teaching since kind of the Crusades), admit defeat to Mina, we are seeing Moore wrest the Aeonic baton from Crowley’s medieval-rooted and frankly hideous vision of the future to his own, far groovier one.

    Though it may not be far groovier, obvs.

  18. amypoodle Says:

    Oh I think it’ll look pretty groovy.

  19. bobsy Says:

    I always assumed we were meant to assume John Steed was gay, and that the offscreen Mr. Peel was somehow even way more of a catch than Steed anyway.

  20. amypoodle Says:

    Yeah, I forgot to include that interpretation. But yeah.

  21. Anton B Says:

    I believe the chalk drawings that Mary Poppins and the children visit are also washed away by rain when they leave them. I don’t have a copy to hand but this certainly happens in the film. The thing I always found disturbing about the Poppins books as a child was her quite snarky pooh poohing insistance that none of the adventures had ‘really happened’ when the chidren questioned her about them afterwards; effectively meta-fictionalising them within the already fictionalised world of the Banks children’s world. Is her power then to be some kind of gateway between the ‘real’ world and the Immateria/Blazing World/Post -Apocalypsian eschaton? Also may there be some mileage in exploring the ‘Nanny’/Binah role against that of Morrison’s ‘Midwife’/Barbelith? Perhaps that’s one for the PHd thesis.

  22. amypoodle Says:

    It probably is. Well, I suppose it depends if any more use is made of her. I reckon that if we do see her again, it’ll be in another aspect. Smarra has yet to make an appearance….

    Also, when I rewatched Poppins for these annos, I remembered finding finding her pooh poohing disturbing too!

  23. Carnival of souls: Special “San Diego pre-game” edition « Attentiondeficitdisorderly by Sean T. Collins Says:

    [...] The Mindless Ones wrap up their commentary on the latest League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. Adam’s right that something about the Harry Potter battle felt inconsequential, but I [...]

  24. Jacob Says:

    Would have liked a Bowie reference in Mina’s ‘life’ speech. ‘Life’s a bitch and sometimes you die.’ Pretty Things are Going to Hell.

    ‘And may I say that Hours was a totally underrated album.’ – Hey a Venture quote to keep that train rolling @Tim Vermeulen.

  25. Anton B Says:

    If he was going for a Bowie lyric I’d have though ‘Quicksand’ would have been more apposite -

    ‘I’m closer to the Golden Dawn
    Immersed in Crowley’s uniform
    Of imagery
    I’m living in a silent film
    Portraying Himmler’s sacred realm
    Of dream reality
    I’m frightened by the total goal
    Drawing to the ragged hole
    And I ain’t got the power anymore’

  26. Jim Says:

    HP seems to mashed with Slim Shady to me, but I highly doubt that’s intentional on Moore’s part.

  27. Dean Says:

    It seems odd to me that Moore might be unfamiliar with the Revelation of St. John, given that it’s such a rich source of Apocalyptic set-dressing. It seems like the kind of thing that one would at least glance through before writing a work conflating Harry Potter with the Antichrist…

  28. Spiritof1789 Says:

    Having followed these posts with interest – and accepting the argument that Moore, as a self-professed ‘know nothing’ when it comes to modern culture, hoists himself by his own petard when he tries to construct a critique of that same culture – I still have to say something strikes me as odd when people comment on how many things in ’2009′ ‘feel wrong’ because they seem to make references to the culture of the mid 1990’s or early 2000’s.
    Moore, it appears to me, has always played fast and loose with chronological precision in terms of the League’s world. Yes, there are some basic rules applied (for example, that the majority of the issues deal with the general cultural tenor of an era as Moore perceives it for something in the region of a decade to twenty years), but I would not say they have ever seemed especially binding. Commentators were not apparently discountenanced to discover, way back in the first issue of the second volume, that Lt. Guillvar Jones of Mars (first created, I believe, in 1905) was present in a League adventure set in 1898. Nor seemingly worried that he joined forces with Sorns from the ‘Perelandra’ trilogy, which C.S. Lewis did not begin work on until the 1920’s, and so on.
    Moore has generally been canny in his usages, but has incorporated many, many possible variations on what is considered ‘current’ in any given era’s imaginative construct. There is the straightforward approach – characters whose creation belongs, within, say, 5-10 years of the date at which the adventure is set. There are plenty of these – Carnacki, Hyde, Holmes, Dakin, and the list goes on. Then, there are those characters whose creation places them earlier than the era into which Moore places them – they tend to appear, consequently, as old men and women, starting with Nemo and Quatermain – but see also C. Auguste Dupin, Billy Bunter, Bulldog Drummond et. al. There are characters whom Moore introduces into eras that precede their actual era of creation, and they are often seen as younger, or infant, versions of their ‘later’ (and latent) selves – The Iron Fish, Jerry Cornelius, Colonel Blimp, Emma Peel, the Wolf of Kabul. There are characters who were rightfully created in a later era but whose adventures are actually specified as having been set in an era antecedent to that of the writing – they appear, non-problematically, as ‘belonging’ to the era the tales are set in – Fu Manchu, Macheath etc. Moore has also been known to ignore the suggested internal chronology of a text in favour of his own interpretation – the most notable example being ‘1984’, which Orwell clearly foresaw as being placed in an (unspecified) future, but which Moore chose to view as most applicable to an era circa its actual time of publication.
    All of this is, perhaps, held to be part of the joy of League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, and most commentators appear to think this, in truth, slightly ungainly hybridisation ‘works’, because they, too, are so remote from the actual eras concerned that they can see the period under examination merely as a congeries of cultural artefacts that signify a generalised sense of ‘Edwardiana’ or ‘The Fifties’. Why then apply differing standards to ‘2009’? As is well known, ‘2009’ only took on that particular dateline because the work was consistently delayed: it started as ‘2008’. The essential fact is, therefore, that the precise date doesn’t matter. Moore’s ‘2009’ is surely just shorthand for ‘contemporary’, and is probably held by him to encompass anything from 1995, say, onwards. This is not actually any different to his ‘1910’ being shorthand for ‘Edwardian/Pre World War One’ or his ‘1969’ being shorthand for some imaginary era we conjure called ‘the Sixties’. Calling him out for being out of touch is one thing, but calling him out over the fact that some of his 2009 references actually refer to things that took place in 2003, and saying this is indicative of his inability to keep up to the minute, is nonsense. There *are* references in ‘1910’ to things that ‘took place’ in 1903, you know.

  29. Carlos Caballero Says:

    Just a couple more things…

    You’ve already mentioned the real world spilling into the world of the league. The Idi Amin name-drop I found particularly interesting at first, because it happened right at the end of the story. Why not replace him with a fictional counterpart? General Buttfuckingnaked, for instance? Is there more to this, that will be explained later? Then I realized that The Last King of Scotland was fictional, and yeah… ok…

    Also, at the risk of being obvious again… Is the Lion King reference the first indication in the League-verse that there might be an afterlife? I know there are gods, and immortals, etc. and obviously there are other realms, but has there ever been a reference to a heaven or hell or myriad other places you could go after death?

  30. amypoodle Says:

    I didn’t read that as a Lion King reference, or even as direct confirmation of an afterlife, but rather as a symbol of Allan converting to pure myth. Or maybe not even that. Just, you know, Allan Quatermain the great hunter is dead, there’s a fuck off great lion in the sky. Nuff said. It doesn’t need rationalising. It just *is*.

    As for Heaven and Hell, well you kind of answer your own question. If there are Norse gods, for instance, then there’s a Valhalla.

    Like in the stories.

  31. Adam Says:

    S’all like in the stories, innit.

    The page is a memorial.

  32. Andrew Hickey Says:

    Couple of things — there’s a difference between something that mixes and matches characters from a five-or ten-year period, and something like this, which includes one character from a series of novels started twelve years before it’s set (and that character behaves nothing like the character he’s based on), and other than that, and a jokey background bit on a TV, doesn’t include a single character created in my lifetime. It’s not that “some of his 2009 references actually refer to things that took place in 2003″, it’s that nothing that matters to the plot is from any later than 1997.

    And 1969 was *definitely* not shorthand for ‘the sixties’. Set it in 1968 or 1970, let alone 1975, and the whole thing falls apart. It’s set after Rosemary’s Baby (film made in 1968 but set in 1966) and before Performance (made in 1968 but set and released in 1970). Fotherington-Thomas’ death parallels Brian Jones’ death (July 1969) while the Hyde Park gig is a portmanteau of the Stones’ Hyde Park gig in July 1969 and their Altamont gig in December 1969. Haddo’s attempts to create a moonchild parallel those of Charles Manson, who committed his famous murders in August 1969.

    Quite simply, with 1969, the further you go from the first week of July 1969 the less resonant it becomes with its times. With 2009, though, take out the Malcolm Tucker panels and it could be set at any point in the last fifteen years and be precisely as resonant. In fact, given that Tucker was presumably in office at much the same time as Alastair Campbell, if you rename the book Century: 1999 or Century: 2001 it becomes far *more* resonant, as some of the background details from The Day Today and Brass Eye become contemporary rather than outdated.

    As for Idi Amin, I meant to mention that in the notes (along with the flirty ‘Ugandan affairs’ line, which is a reference to the long-running euphemism for sex in Private Eye magazine, for those USian readers who didn’t know). My guess, actually, is that the Amin of the League-verse is the ‘hilarious’ racist caricature version that Alan Coren wrote for Punch (Private Eye’s older rival) in the 1970s. I was going to link to an example of those columns, but unfortunately I can only find them on white supremacist websites, with claims that they were ‘censored’ by the ‘politically correct brigade’. They were mainstream, very popular, humour in the 70s though…

  33. Andrew Hickey Says:

    “Set it in 1968 or 1970, let alone 1975″
    I meant 65. Typo.

  34. Vertvad Says:

    Brilliant stuff! Lots of meat to chew over (again).
    One hostage to fortune; Mary P’s line “tsk. Just the one book? I’m on every page.” to me leaves open the suggestion that she means every page of every book (/story?), Sophia as Imagination (and Mr Moore likes Imagination :))

  35. amypoodle Says:

    I think you have it, Sir!

  36. John Larrey Says:

    I just wanted to say “thanks” to all the mindless ones (Adam, Andrew, Amy, bobsy etc)for putting together these posts for this (and previous)editions of LoEG. You guys do an outstanding job of deciphering all of the British-centric pieces, places, and personalities. And you do it a nice and casual way. I’m a huge Alan Moore fan and I knew going into The Black Dossier (and onward)that he was going to turn his laser-like focus and attention towards England, and I was very thankful when I stumbled onto your site a few years back.
    It’s nice to read the books, then jump over here and read the comments and then go back and re-read the books,with a better understanding of who, what, and where(etc)is ACTUALLY being described…Alan Moore always rewards multiple readings, and having you guys do “your thing”, has given me the luxury to reread the LoEG series again, and get those rewards…I know it’s a lot of work and research, and I wanted you all to know that I appreciate it. And you guys are spot on with your love for Kevin O’Neill: His artwork is fantastic and eye poppingly wonderful (a semi-pun I could not resist). Thanks again.

  37. Adam Says:

    Thanks, John

  38. Spiritof1789 Says:

    I take your point, Andrew, particularly with regard to ‘1969’, although I think it appears to be the LOEG exception in terms of its historical specificity, rather than the rule. You have ‘1969’ on the one hand, and then you have ‘1910’ on the other, which incorporates a main storyline (i.e. birthing the Moonchild) from a text that didn’t actually see print until 1917, juxtaposed with a supporting plotline taken from a musical that was composed in 1928, and is unafraid about incorporating references to material (such as ‘The Ruling Class’) that didn’t actually appear until the 1970’s. Which is more representative of Moore’s method: the literalness of ’69 or the wild meta-textual abandon of 1910? And the answer is probably: neither and/or both.
    ‘1910’ is, I think it’s clear, not about 1910 in any way that would meaningfully speak to the people of 1910, but speaks to later readers who think they have an impression of what the era circa ‘1910’ was ‘about’. It’s a textual impression of a mythical period we call ‘Edwardian’. In that regard, I stand by my suggestion that ‘1969’ is about a textual impression of a mythical period we call ‘the Sixties’, even if most of the main story parallels are very specifically geared to the particular year 1969. Naturally, ‘1969’ couldn’t be set in ‘1968’ and have the same elements included; but the surrounding context is about every vision that we (and/or Moore) holds of what ‘the 60’s’ were about from ‘The Rag Trade’ to ‘Department S’, from ‘Till Death Us Do Part’ to ‘Doctor Who’. So, this is quibbling over perspective: your insight applies if you are looking at the main plotlines of ‘1969’, I was considering the broader tapestry.
    Where you are right is in seeing ‘2009’ lacking resonance because it is too generalised in what are supposed to be its specific terms: rather than containing highly defined reference points (the allusions to Hyde Park, Manson and so forth in ‘1969’), ‘2009’ simplifies in the broadest manner – there is a war on terror, spin doctoring, US adventurism, a ‘drum n’ bass scene’ and so on, but none of it is anchored – and the plot could be referring to 1996 or 2003 or whenever. It’s all indicative of Moore’s openly admitted lack of familiarity with modern culture. I don’t think its coincidence that he appears to drop his ‘contemporary’ referencing as quickly as he can in order to throw us into a story which isn’t really a comment on the early 21st century at all – but instead comes complete with references to James Bond, The Avengers, Mary Poppins, King Solomon’s Mines and archaic boys’ adventure comics. But I am not sure that any of that quite invalidates the central nature of the initial text, mixing and matching references from early in a given era (‘Brass Eye’, ‘The Day Today’) with later (‘Entourage’, ‘Lost’), and treating the whole period as shorthand for a prevalent atmosphere, which is exactly what all the other issues of LOEG do, too. Moore does genuinely seem to believe that it doesn’t matter as far as he is concerned as to whether you are living in 1999 or 2009 because the culture all looks much the same from where he’s sitting. Which is to say, that’s he writing like the worst kind of grumpy old fart in this respect, but *doesn’t care* that ‘nothing that matters to the plot is from any later than 1997’. That may, indeed, be part of the justification of the issue – that the more it changes nowadays, the more it stays the same. It only appears to be the fans who are feeling somehow short changed by the fact that ‘2009’ does not speak to the concerns of 2009 per se.

  39. Ken Quichey Says:

    Ace Hart:
    http://www.comics.org/issue/726404/cover/4/

    In the 1940s-50s a bunch of (relatively short-lived) British publishers, realising that many kids got particularily excited about US comics, brought out several titles that aped their vernacular, sometimes to the extent of putting a “10c” price on the cover. Super Thriller had a price in Pence, but the strips were very USonian in style, and the format was the same.
    Later on (in the 60s) a more distinct kind of (quasi-) superhero idiom developed, featuring characters (The Spider, The Cat, Adam Eterno, Kelly from Kelly’s Eye) who dovetailed more organically with British cultural mores, but really, who wants that? Setting superheroes in British culture is about as useful as doing a US version of Last of the Summer Wine.
    /ramble

  40. Papers Says:

    Actually, I’m not moderately annoyed that Moore didn’t do anything with Grist’s stable of remixed-from-earlier-comics Jack Staff cast. Becky Burdock would have been amazingly appropriate as someone to encounter Mina, and considering Grist created an Alan Moore wizard for the series…

  41. Adam Says:

    Would’ve been good, but you don’t srsly think the Great Magus would deign to read anyone else’s comics do you?

  42. Current Times 28 | this cage is worms Says:

    [...] 7. The Mindless Ones have their commentary and annotations to League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: Century 2009 up and, as always, they are informative and entertaining. I thought that 2009 was the best League comic I’ve read so far, and the payoff at the end was worth every long prose passage 1950s British pop culture that I had to sift through. Read here. [...]

  43. Owen Says:

    I don’t think Moore really left enough room for this, and I think the cultural critique is much weaker than the last two books. I also wonder about the cultural decline theme- Moore does realise that Dracula, archetypal though it may be, isn’t very good, doesn’t he?

  44. Owen Says:

    I should add that this is (without having read Promethea) the most Morrisonian of Moore’s works, and much as I like Morrison, I don’t mean that as a commendation, rather that there are lots of interesting ideas that are pencilled but not inked in.

    On the book of the bible point, isn’t Harry a. Likely to be ignorant and b. it a set-up to establish Mary Poppins as (a) God? It’s cheesy, but I don’t think it needs any more explication than that.

    Also thanks for undertaking this- while I’m not terribly interested in magic, I’m grateful to you for explaining what influence it might have.

  45. Adam Says:

    Pretty sure it’s not intended to be cheesy, and I have to say that I didn’t experience it that way.

  46. Tim Says:

    I just wanted to pick your collective brains on the scene where Haddo says “I am not…to be…its huh-harbinger. That honour…falls to *you*…Cuh…Congratulations” and stares right out of the frame at the reader, implying a sort of passing-on-the-torch, challenging us to produce a new fiction worthy of the League’s beginnings, rather than the quote-unquote banal Potter fare he tried and failed with. i.e. Moore as Haddo saying, “Come on, you can do better than this. What’s the next century of our culture going to look like?”

    Also, on a totally unrelated point, I found it interesting given the Will Stanton reference on Haddo’s dosier (I actually assumed at first that Staton *was* the Moonchild, having taken Potter’s place at the school or something, although obviously the dates are off for that) that the end of this volume pays a passing resemblance to the end of The Dark Is Rising sequence: the heroes, with their legendary sword, find and confront the Big Bad, but their role is only to stand by and watch as the Legendary Figure from Britain’s Past appears literally from thin air (Herne the Hunter in TDIR’s case) to effortlessly see it off.

  47. wreade1872 Says:

    I’m probably hallucinating but Jack Nemo’s armour looks like something from a crap 80′s cartoon i remember called Centurions. It might fit as i think the green suit was used by the waterguy, it was basically a scuba suit with weapons.
    By the way shouldn’t Nemo be a bit lighter of skin given that his grandfathers are Broad Arrow Jack and Captain Mors?

  48. Johan Says:

    Oh god, I also saw the centurions armor in Jack Nemo. I didn’t dare assume that was it.

  49. wreade1872 Says:

    If i was a journalist i’d take Johans comment as a confirmation (i didn’t say i’d make a GOOD journalist ;) ).
    Also was it just me that got a really bad feeling due to Haddos final words coupled with Prospero abandoning the heroes?
    It gave me the impression of a setup for one of those angels are as bad as demons story lines.
    I got a vision of a future volume with the League vs Prospero. Maybe with Prospero trying to destroy the barrier between the league world and the Blazing World which would turn everything into fiction.
    Also maybe with Nemo helping, magic (ie fiction) combined with technology (ie videos games, internet).
    A commentary on people spending too much time in fantasy land.

    … yeah that probably was just me.

  50. Shade1983 Says:

    It’s interesting how the Brecht elements influence Century. After all, immortality turned out to have some pretty alienating effects on the League.

  51. amypoodle Says:

    I so want you to be right about the Centurions thing.

  52. amypoodle Says:

    Oh, and the armour was used by the water guy.

    http://centurions.wikia.com/wiki/Max_Ray

    Another thing that might go some way to confirming authorial intent: Jack Kirby and Gil Kane helped design the Centurions.

    I’m liking the idea that sometime around the mid Eighties (Centurions first aired in ’86) Nemo put together a group of element themed science heroes…

  53. wreade1872 Says:

    Hey i just realised that the League 2009 is about franchises and lack of originality!
    Ok so i knew that already, but only now did it click just how many franchises there are in this story and maybe thats why it feels like there are less references than usual.
    I mean you have all the Bonds, all the Avengers women, the Dr Who’s, all the child wizards. Also most of the other references are from comedies, and not just comedies but impersonation comedies, like Tracy Jordan who is a parody of the martin lawrence etc.
    So yeah we really seem to have a problem coming up with new stuff, point taken Mr Moore.
    Even Orlando is a bit of a ripoff of Colonel Cuckoo it seems.

  54. Thrills Says:

    I, too, read Nemo’s suit as ‘Centurion’-based, and was pleased to see here that I wasn’t the only one…

    I also read Potter’s “I’m in a chapter in the Bible!” thing as just him being ignorant of the actual Bible contents, and not as Moore twisting things about to suit his needs/getting it wrong.

    I’m also one of those folks who is totally grateful for Mindless anottations, as I tend to enjoy The League on a fairly ‘surface’ way on my first read, and ‘get’ all the extra textual goodness the second or third times through. It’s good to read through these posts going “mm hmm, I agree” or “Oooh! interesting!” and so forth.

    I think, on a visceral level, the Potter “…and then we can get things started” panel really put the shits up me. The way he’s slowly curving the actual comic space around him wit his arm movements, and the angle of the ‘camera’… fuck, it’s unsettling, more than any of the similar ‘using panel size and shape to create horror’ stuff from Neonomicon.

    Having read all of Century and the Black Dossier for the first time in the last couple of weeks, I can say it has been a totally ‘rolicking’ comics read and I am looking forward to picking through it all ‘properly’. I think it gets dismissed as just being ‘spot the reference’, but even it were mainly that, it’d still just be a fucking great adventure comic.

  55. Bastard Tweed Says:

    Late to the party and not even fashionably, I am.

    First, in an attempt to claim my no-prize, I thought it a bit unlikely that Moore, fond as he is of close readings, would no more than skim a text as psychedelically rich as the Book of Revelation. Is it not a viable interpretation that how the MoonPotter HarryChild resembles one of the Beasts Before the Throne is just further indication of Haddo’s failure? If he is meant to represent Crowley’s vision for the future then we should have been getting something that changed the game: scrumbling up the rules and re-evaluating the stakes. And what are we getting? Another great flipping beastie what vulgarly staggers around all giant-like and blows shit up real good. Where have we seen that before? Heck, where *haven’t* we seen that before in the adventure stories of the last hundred years? Isn’t that kind of the genre equivalent of “rest(ing) not day and night, saying, Holy, holy, holy, LORD God Almighty, which was, and is, and is to come”, a reduntant reinforcing of the way these things *always* go. Yeah, Haddo rather unequivocally failed.

    But before I get too wrappped up in the Crowley/Bible/GivingMoorePerhapsTooMuchCredit continuum, what *do* those eyese mean? Sure, they’re magic, scary, teratoma pimples. But I think there’s also a strong connection to what’s wrong with the whole Harry Potter phenomenon in the first place. It isn’t that a huge plurality of us think that those books are the worst thing ever written. They’re okay. Y’know: the power of friendship and loyalty, overcoming dark evil both out in the world and in your own soul, blah blah blah. A tidy, if perhaps too facile, little magic setting. Whatever. I read them, I was entertained when I read them, I put them down. I was filled to the brim with hilarity when somebody stuck a Nick Cave song in one of the movies.

    I think the disapointment, the rage, the cognitive dissonance sets in when we take all these factors and are then forced to make the additional observation, “Really?!? BILLIONS OF DOLLARS?!? The biggest, bestest selling whateveritis since thatlastthing?!? Now she’s richer than the queen or something?!?” followed shortly by, “Yeesh, all of the potential narratives out there that could have been the New Defining Imaginative Experience For the Kiddies, and THIS is the one that the Blazing World saw fit to deign us? Doesn’t really hold up, does it?” And that’s what all of those eyes are doing, popping out on his forehead, his foot, his nostrils, his “magic wand”, his innards and grue.

    They are us.

    The billions of readers who experienced a narrative that wasn’t really big or strong or complex enough to bear the weight of our collective attention and scrutiny. Staring and reading and wondering and staring until this poor little fiction that certainly never even dreamed of being The New Defining Imaginative Experience For the Kiddies has little choice but to go on a bloody rampage. It just wanted to be a poor kid who went to Magic School and got to fight the latest bad guy with his jetpackbroom and laserpistolwand. Now all those eyes keep popping up and asking whether Dumbledore was ever in love and how do you make butterbeer and can we somehow play quidditch in real life and STOP STARING LEAMME ALONE!!!

    And even when Moorey Poppins hits the scene and Gods our sad little AntiChrist into a runny chalk mural *the eyes remain staring*. He may be reduced to no more than a puddle of pigment but those eyes keep insisting and staring and wondering even after the complete and not the slightest bit smug, oh no, destruction of their focus object leaves them floating into a gutter and down the drain where they can stare at the sewers. With all the butterbeer. And, I dunno, guys in poorly made giant rat-suits or something. I done run out of steam I have.

    Pleonasm and hyperbole are fun but quite tiring as well.

  56. Dave Page Says:

    Talking of contemporary reference-spotting, I took “I could, like, sue you and shit?” specifically as referring to Armstrong and Miller’s chav-speaking WW2 pilots, which first appeared in 2007 or later. I wouldn’t be suprised if it’s a direct quote.

    It’s not much, but it drags the references a little closer to the present.

  57. Great Wizard Fights of History: Antichrist Harry Potter vs. Mary Poppins (Warning: NSFW. Or near your children. Also spoilers) « Dylan Tern Says:

    [...] Anyways, back to Mary Poppins. I ended up finding an article that gives much to this. I have been looking around and reading that Mary Poppins is an embodiment of the Thelemic Goddess Babalon. This didn’t really mesh with me at first since Mary Poppins doesn’t seem to fit entirely well with Babalon. I then read this. Amy: The question of who Mary Poppins actually is should be fairly easy to answer for anyone who slogged through the marathon Kabbalah lec..I mean story arc in Promethea. The clue’s in her first name…. Mary is a manifestation of the sephirah Binah, and with a little inspection it seems she embodies both of the sphere’s attributes. A nanny (read: mother) to all, she’s the bottomlessly compassionate Marie, but, stern house-frau that she is and consort to the filthiest and most ‘fallen’ of all the victorian/edwardian stock characters, the chimney sweep, she also doubles up as Babylon. Her stated concern for ‘the healthy development’ of childrens’ imagination just serves to underline this promethean connection (and Moore’s concern, if it was ever in doubt, that Harry Potter is the imaginative equivalent of poison). – Mindless Ones “League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Century: Part Three [...]

  58. Kyon Says:

    Fantastic references and commentary. I love Vol. III and have reread it many times over. You guys brought up a lot of stuff I didn’t catch before.

  59. erotic massage Says:

    Howdy would you mind sharing which blog platform you’re working with?
    I’m planning to start my own blog in the near future
    but I’m having a difficult time choosing between BlogEngine/Wordpress/B2evolution and Drupal.
    The reason I ask is because your layout seems different
    then most blogs and I’m looking for something unique.
    P.S Sorry for getting off-topic but I had to ask!

  60. war thunder naval gameplay Says:

    I go to see each day some blogs and websites to read content,
    except this web site offers quality based writing.

    My web site war thunder naval gameplay

  61. Birthday Wishes Says:

    This design is spectacular! You most certainly know how to keep a reader entertained.
    Between your wit and your videos, I was almost moved to start my
    own blog (well, almost…HaHa!) Fantastic job.

    I really loved what you had to say, and more than that,
    how you presented it. Too cool!

    Feel free to visit my blog: Birthday Wishes

Leave a Reply