I hope you’ll forgive me a little bit of Mindless Self Indulgence here since we’ve already covered the comic in question in some detail, but just try to imagine my surprise when after reading pages and pages full of brilliant, moving stuff about growing older in a world that is indifferent to your bewildered perspective in LoEG Century, I came face-to-face with the young Antichrist and discovered that he was me.
Of course, he was also Harry Potter and Will Stanton and Kevin the Teenager, but as he peeled his way out of the page…
…and started rambling away at our heroes in that deadened voice of his, I began to feel like I was watching myself rip my way through the comic. A spoiled young man raging against the story he’s grown up in?
Fuck! Yeah, okay – guilty as charged!
But we’ll get back to that in a minute, becuase as I said in an earlier post, there’s a strange nested dolls effect at work in this LoEG trilogy, with old(ish) men Alan Moore and Kevin O’Neill trying to imagine how it must feel to be as absurdly old as Mina Harker, who is in turn trying to work out how it feels to be as impossibly old as Orlando:
There’s a temptation here for the young(ish) reader to join in by trying to imagine how it must feel to be as old as Moore and O’Neill, which… this probably sounds patronising (maybe because it is? - ed), but there’s also something useful about the way LoEG Century asks you to try to trace this hopeless arc. It’s definitely beyond me to imagine what it would be like to have lived on this earth for more than one century, but by asking me to try Moore and O’Neill make the task of thinking about all the changes and loss you can encounter over the course of a single human lifetime appear slightly more manageable.
Bearing this in mind, the many flaws that we’ve talked to death in our annocomentations start to seem more forgivable. Like his characters, Moore is not at home in the world of Century 2009, and while there is a certain disconnect between the fictional world he’s describing and that world as it existed (as Andre Whickey has pointed out, Malcolm Tucker is the only contemporary character to get a speaking part in 2009 aside from the aforementioned Antichrist), there’s a level on which this disconnection almost works for the story rather than against it. By the time they get to 2009, Mina and Allan and Orlando are all living on the edges of the main narrative of the time, and halfway through Century 2009 I started to feel like I was living there with them.
Of course, like I said, everything changed for me when this fucker finally broke free from the other side of the page:
The Antichrist ripped his way out of the comic, staring out at me like a dark reflection, an anti-Mindless, an all too Logical sort of Silence, a reminder of all my petty frustrations, of that bloody Kevin the Teenager voice my parents used to echo back at me during my teenage sulks, of the fact that I’m still not any kind of writer, that I’m the first person from my mum’s family to go to University and that no one from that side of the family can work out why I’ve not really “done anything” with that, whatever the fuck that’s supposed to mean.
See, I told you there’d be self-indulgence! Thankfully there’s more to this story than my own tedious insecurities though. You see, way back when we were compiling our first set of LoEG thoughts, Andre Whickey made the following point about Moore’s critique of modern culture:
…the story Moore wants to tell — of the deterioration of culture since the 1960s — is one that could be plausibly made. But to make it work, one has to criticise the 60s counterculture. Most of the problems in the world today stem, ultimately, from the utter self-obsessed infantilism of the generation that were young adults in 1969 — Moore’s generation, the generation that voted in Thatcher, the generation that made up Blair’s cabinet — but rather than admit the link, Moore has instead basically taken a line of “Weren’t the 60s great until Charles Manson and Altamont, but now the world’s full of young people with their hippity-hoppity music and their pinpods, and I wish it would all be like it used to be.”
Like the man says, this argument isn’t explicitly made in the comic itself, but the more I thought about my multi-eyed, strangely oblivious stand-in the more I started to wonder how much significance you could place on the fact that he’s grown up in the world that Moore’s generation made for him. Any attempt at reading the story this way is almost instantly complicated by the fact that this particular Antichrist grew up in a story that Haddow specifically created, but while this positions our psuedo-Potter as the result of a century long scheme I can’t help but think that there’s got to be something to the fact that Haddow possess Tom Riddle at the height of Century 1969′s bloom:
It’s possible that this is just over-reading/overreaching on my part (on Mindless Ones dot com? say it ain’t so! – ed), but even if that is the case then there’s still something to be said for viewing this particular Antichrist as a honking byproduct of The Century of the Self(-obsessed). It’s not just Harry Potter that Moore and O’Neill are skewering here, but all those stories about chosen ones who could only ever grow up to see all of their fantasies made real. It just so happens that this Antichrist caught a glimpse of the backstage area and decided to let some of his less savory fantasies erupt, Columbine style.
Of course, not all of us bewildered youngsters start shooting lightning bolts from our cocks when we realise that the stories we’ve been sold are bullshit – some of us just write about comics as though they might actually still mean something instead, you know? - so my empathy with the villain of the piece does have its limits, but when Mary “fucking” Poppins descends from the sky and gives the boy a good talking to, she makes it obvious that he’s not the tyger he thought he was, for all his bluster:
Despite their cumulative age and experience, Mina and Orlando end up looking pretty ineffectual at the end of Century 2009. Of course, regardless of whether they’re Tygers or Lambs, Mary’s impossible power makes it clear that our heroes are bit-players in the world they inhabit, rather than true agents of Moore and O’Neill’s fearful symmetry. With all of the Antichrist’s ranty, phallically obsessed anger burned off, all that’s left in the comic is a sense of bewildered bereavement:
There’s a delicate sort of love behind this confusion – despite the overpowering sense of shock that clouds the last few pages of the comic, and despite Orlando’s refreshed commitment to the sex end of the “sex and violence” spectrum, it’s pretty much the only thing that’s keeping our “League” together at this point. Orlando’s glibness can’t come close to overpowering the memory of that almost unbearably fragile and tender sex scene between Mina and zi on page 50 of this comic, or indeed the memory of Allan, lost forever now but looming over that final page like something out of the ruddy Lion King. And what does all of this suggest about the makers of this comic, about those grumpy old fuckers Moore and O’Neill? Well, to me it suggests that for all of their painfully relevant anger, they’re still a pair of clods disguised as a couple of pebbles, and hey – there’s nothing wrong with that! At the very least, it leaves a little bit of room for hope, or rather, for the possibility of hope…