The funny thing about a Mercedes 770 is

Wow, all that German dialogue was annoying, wasn’t it? As an experiment in formalist pass-agging, it’s classic Moore of course, but my German reading is max schrecklich so I had to scurry off to the internet for a translation and- OH!

…Yeah fair play, you got me there you bearded, crabby old bastard. There I go, running off to lean on the old god’s hippocampus again, without even an editorial assistant to do it for me! Genius. I think a lot of people don’t pick up on the humour in Alan Moore’s work, actually?

Handled the French and most of the English bits OK though, so, y’know, integrity there. Feel like the word ‘hypocrite’ should make an appearance now, though we don’t really need it… hold on to the first four letters of it though, because we’ll be using them for real in a minute.

This arrived in the comic shop with much less fanfare than your average doodlebug, but as soon as Gary sent up the siren I goosestepped down the hill to fetch it quicksmart. Got it home and more or less enjoyed it – it was straightforward, no-nonsense/lots of nonsense, pretty much alright.

Except for the Xmen stuff, the so-and-so superhero is married to so-and-so superhero’s cousin’s brother-in-law stuff, I could do without all that. These Victorian superheroes with big cars – like, their big car is the superpower – they’d died out quite naturally by the middle of the last century, which was OK. Bringing them back, trying to give them a dignity and relevance beyond their sell by -  just can’t really see why this is any less wank than any other variety of steampunk: Dave McKean and Jeremy Clarkson polishing the cogs on their beaver hats, compulsively checking their gold atomic pocket watches.

There’s the copyright issues (old and new) of course, but the James Bond, shit the Harry Potter workarounds for that were more elegant and welcome: Forcing an alternative contemporaneity into the template, deliberately not using characters from the pop lit of the day embuggers the entire LOEG scheme. The world isn’t a reflection of the popular imagination of the era under examination, it’s just another partial and arbitrary superhero playground where everything is up for fudging.

Fudge, fudge like:

Fudge! Wouldn’t it have been more dramatic for Broad Arrow Jack to have run out of ammo at that point, instead of throwing his guns away? His death becomes entirely his own fault, borne of an internal flaw (sadism – specifically sadism against women in this, the only instance we have to go on, but let’s not because ooh contentious) that comes out of nowhere without illuminating theme, plot or character at all, merely shows itself as invasive and undisguised storytelling, ruddy great fudgey ringed fingerprints all over it.

Fudge! She just happens to blow up that nearby area of town at just that exact moment?

Fudge! Kevin O’Neill already always does German expressionism – it’s redundant and underwhelming when he does it here.

Fudge! The sleepers shot the robot because she just happened to shoot Caligari at exactly the right point of his very convenient sentence? That’s not good, that’s just fudge, man – please stop getting all this fudge on the rather few pages of my comic, what I paid ten pounds for.

This review will end shortly. Before it does, if you could imagine Alan Moore’s face crudely photoshopped over Peter Lorre’s and mine over all the faces of the jurors in the old distillery? It’d save a few minutes, thanks.

And finally, you’ll be glad to hear, the last bit- Always have a bit of a callback in your Alan Moore reviews, it’s clever. HYPO, remember? The last comic read before this one (Saturday afternoon, Rudgate Ruby Mild, lovely stuff) was The Hypo by Noah van Sciver. It does very interesting things with history and fiction indeed, and features a frighteningly potent depiction of mental illness, and you’d be better off spending the money you’d otherwise spend on Roses of Berlin on this.

Moore and Morrison

Happier times: Moore and an already thinning Morrison, pictured together in 1982

10 Responses to “League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: Roses of Berlin – THE REVIEW”

  1. Illogical Volume Says:

    Nice one Bobsy, good to see the Jeremy Clarkson: King of Steampunk meme’s still going – will contribute some actual thoughts when I’ve had a chance to let the comic settle, plus possibly again if I can get some Hypo in me!

    Really looking forward to seeing Amypoodle’s counter-review, if and when he gets it together… NAE PRESSURE BIG YIN!

  2. sean Says:

    How reliable can a book review be if it can’t even get the title right?

    If you can’t figure out why it wouldn’t be more dramatic if Jack ran out of ammo – how that would mess with plot, character and theme – you just weren’t paying any attention to what you were reading. And “sexual sadism” is a real stretch…to the point where it just seems calculated to provoke a response, with no real relevance to whats actually going on in the pages.

    More generally, all that stuff about old fashioned superheroes, cars, and whatnot really misses the point. Which is…. early(ish) 20th C – science and the rise of mass production, how money (Charles Foster Kane) and power (Adenoid Hynkel)operate to regiment and control human beings but don’t (can’t?) completely succeed and blah blah blah blah…. you know, I’ve only just finished reading Roses, so I’m still thinking about it.

    I didn’t resent spending a tenner.

  3. bobsy Says:

    GO suck a beard.

  4. madarab Says:

    I remember seeing ir reading an interview where moore makes the same point you make about many people missing the humor about derrida. Thought it was funny.

    Also, still remember that first league, when mina does an intervention with a comatose quartermain, and there are about two pages of untranslated arabic cursing. Always wondered what other people made of those pages.

  5. bobsy Says:

    It was before online translation and up-to-the-minute comicbook annotations were widespread, so unless you knew someone who could read Arabic (which I didn’t) or were prepared to put in some reasonably serious library time (I wasn’t) the effect of using untranslated non-English dialogue was rather different and more interesting: You had to get used to the idea that you weren’t going to be able to read it, so in order to get a good sense of sense out of those scenes, you had to pay special attention to the action in sequence and in context, and read the body language and expressions of the speakers. It added a dimension to the experience very different to the tiresome inconvenience here.

    If I remember correctly, the Arab-speakers were very much-in-the-frame during those sections – you had access to their body language, their expressions, and where the speakers stood in relation to one another, so there was plenty there that could till be gleaned. The contrast with the distant desert shots here in League of Extraordinary Gentleness: Rosey in Berlin could hardly be more marked.

    I could wear my old ‘PC lunatic’ hat and look back on the earlier sequence as a little bit horrid, as it could well imply something along the lines of ‘Well it doesn’t matter what they’re bloody saying does it? Just a bunch of bloody mad Arabs int they?’

    but it’s got a hole in it.

  6. DannyBoy Says:

    Nice picture at the end, I’m sure you think it’s a funny, ironic, hilarious conclusion, but I’m sure you also know that Danny Morrison was jailed for murdering Sandy Lynch. I’m sure the Troubles are just some obscure historical conflict for you, but not so for many other people.

  7. The Beast Must Die Says:

    I liked this a whole lot. Mainly just getting O’Neill to stretch out and flex. Will have to read again, but it definitely didn’t irk me the way it did you Brother Bobsy.

  8. Figserello Says:

    Sandy Lynch is alive and well…

    http://www.theguardian.com/uk/2008/oct/24/danny-morrison-northern-ireland

  9. Teodoro Says:

    palliest palliums palmated palmette palmetto palmfuls palmiest palmists.
    keloidal kenneled kennings kenotron kephalin keramics keratins keratoid.
    datives  daturas  daturic  daubers  daubery  daubier  daubing  daunder.

  10. DannyBoy Says:

    @Figserello, yes I know, but he was jailed for it; my point being that these are matters of life and death, real-life actual important stuff, that I think it’s callous and tacky to make the punchline of a comicbook review.

Leave a Reply