As Alan Moore and Kevin O'Neill's latest League of Extraordinary Gentlemen ends, I can't say that I'm very happy about it. Or amused. Or satisfied. Let me first say that I have always enjoyed Alan Moore's work, particularly LOEG, and believe him to be one of the best writers of the last fifty years. However I am amazed by the hubris of the man. The entire gist of Century was the stopping of the Antichrist with the focus being on Mina Murray, a rejuvenated Alan Quartermain and the gender switching Orlando.

There were many parts that I had problems with, not least of which is Mina being assaulted again and she is Moore's primary female protagonist. But the finale was truly dismaying. I read Jess Nevins' annotations (wonderful and intricate as they are) to make sure I wasn't over-reacting. But from those comments, I apparently am but they are Moore-followers and they accept much more than I would or could.

Again this is with SPOILERS.....SPOILERS......SPOILERS

 

 

The Antichrist is .......Harry Potter!!!! Yes, the name is never mentioned but they again walk through a wall at King's Crossing, speak of a magical child, the wreckage of a magical train (littered with the corpses of children), the Whomping Willow, the ruins of a magical school, the killings of his friends (a red-headed boy and brunette girl), a teacher who despised him, exploits "arranged" for him and, of course, the scar! J.K. Rowlings' world, not parodied or homaged but torn to shreds. We literally walk through the apocalypse of her opus. 

Beyond the fact that I have read and enjoyed the Harry Potter series, my nephews and nieces have. As have millions of other readers, young and old. Yet Moore feels compelled to turn it into a grotesque mockery for his own epic. Again, the book's not titled League Vs Potter but anyone reading it could figure it out.

Not to mention that he drags poor Mary Poppins into it as well. He villifies the James Bond character though he does a clever twist on it. But by making two heroes, Bond and Potter, into his antagonists, he appears to be bitter over their success. He uses their fame to fuel his stories, here and in The Black Dossier. And he is not respectful. He is demeaning. He uses sex and violence as character development throughout the various series. The monster Hyde and the terrorist Nemo are his heroes, the established heroes are mocked, lessened and weakened.

It has been rationalized as Moore attacking the collapse of literature and popular culture. The Potter books are flawed, the movies moreso. They are pablum to readers, not nourishing, junk food for the mind. But the fans of the series would disagree, as would the fans of Twilight or The Hunger Games. That is their choice. We all like what we like.

Amazingly Doctor Who, all of them, are spared. As is John Steed. One bright spot is that I might get Mark Waid's Steed and Mrs. Peel book.

Given his vehemence over Before Watchmen, his choices here are puzzling. Does he corrupt Harry because he is one of Warners' cash-cows/successes? Does he care about Ms. Rowlings' rights? Am I wrong? Out-of-touch? Too stupid to "get" what Moore is saying?

Maybe but I also know that what Moore did is creatively wrong, IMHO. It shocks for the purpose of shocking. I see no deeper meaning. If he does another LOEG, I hope he can be more original next time.

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It's a funny thing, I read this book awhile ago and have been chewing over posting about it for some time.  You see, I come to it from a somewhat different viewpoint than yours.  I'm not a big Potterhead.  Read the first chapter of the first book, decided it wasn't for me, put it down and never felt an urge to pick it up again.  Same thing with the films. Watched the first picture because the person I was visiting insisted on watching it. Wasn't overwhelmed by it, never felt an urge to see any of the others.  Don't get me wrong - I don't think they're evil or Satanic or even crappy - just not my cup of tea.  Anyway, my point in saying all of this is to establish that I'm not a big fan of the character - it doesn't represent a cherished memory for me, it's not "sacred" to me the way it seems to be to some people. I'm also not a particularly squeamish fellow. I've watched and enjoyed a certain amount of stuff that other people might consider unpleasant. But, having said all that, I still was appalled when I read this book. I don't even like Harry Potter and I was still disturbed when it came to the "Hogwarts meets Columbine" scene. My first thought on reading it was, "If I'm revolted by this, a Potterhead would probably puke after seeing it!"

Disturbed is the right word. Look, I'm not saying Harry is "sacred" but to today's new readers, he is their starting point to reading. Nothing about the series warrants such depravity. Moore crossed a line, one of many.

To clarify, I didn't mean "sacred" in a religious sense, but more as shorthand for "something that has great importance and/or emotional significance to someone."  I don't expect that anyone actually worships Harry Potter or considers the books sacred texts. But I imagine that they may well have the same kind of associations for kids today that the books I liked best when I was a kid had (and in some cases still have) for me. I don't say that these kind of things should be exempt from parody or criticism, but this seemed more like deliberately p***ing all over them, and I don't see any need for that. 

Understood the "sacred" thing. I loved the Harry Potter MAD parodies among others but I do see the books as more than "kid-lit".

It would be as if Moore wrote a LOEG-in-the-future story and the villain turned out to be Mister Spock, unnamed, of course. And how he assassinated Captain Kirk, euthanised Doctor McCoy, dried out Scotty, destroyed the Federation, stomped on some tribbles and crashed the Enterprise into Vulcan. Because he's "emotionless!" And he already has the pointed ears!

Not to mention that he drags poor Mary Poppins into it as well.

 

Mary Poppins gets a lot of respect in it.  Moore would seem to be asking us to compare Mary Poppins with Harry Potter.  As I have neither read Travers' book nor seen the movie, I can't say much further than that.

 

But by making two heroes, Bond and Potter, into his antagonists, he appears to be bitter over their success.

 

Appears to you, maybe.  No, I don't think he's bothered by their success as such.  Why would he be?  He's the most successful writer in his own field, with many movies made of his own work, which is a standard of 'success' that many current writers would hold up.  He does seem to be subverting Bond and Potter to highlight that their huge success amongst the general populace is worrying, given Bond's failings as a character and the Potter books' failings as, for want of a better word, 'literature'.  Put Potter beside Promethea and it's obvious Potter's discussion of and understanding of 'magic' is profoundly wanting, with none of Moore's anthropological, historical or esoteric insights.

 

They are pablum to readers, not nourishing, junk food for the mind.

 

You said it, not me.

 

The monster Hyde and the terrorist Nemo are his heroes.

 

What now?  Hyde was portrayed as a monster throughout.  Just because Hyde was a super-powered character in a super-team whose name was on the cover of a superheroish comic, doesn't make him a hero.

 

As for Nemo, well, one man's terrorist...

 

Amazingly Doctor Who, all of them, are spared. As is John Steed.

 

So Moore is asking us to think about what makes the Doctor and Steed different to Bond, Potter and Hyde (who was portrayed throughout as a villain and a monster.)  Bond is an imperialist, sexist monster.  Potter is a publishing one.  It's not arbitrary, Philip.  By noticing that different extremely profitable and successful popular characters are treated differently you're making a start in elucidating Moore's argument.

 

(Why isn't Moore jealous of Poppins', Steeds and Who's popularity, as he is of Bond's and Potter's?)

 

Potter is a pop culture juggernaut.  Something with such huge influence and reach needs to be questioned and examined.  I'll admit Moore doesn't do it with much subtlety, but that was his call. 

 

I do have problems with some of the structure and argument of 2009, but largely not with his use of Potter ...mmmm per se.  I don't know if it is much of a defense, but the iconoclastic, OTT, gore and guts approach to adventure stories is a long tradition from 2000AD, and O'Neill himself was a pioneer of it way back when.

 

I couldn't really care less about the children.  Are you saying because it's a comic then they are more likely to read it and so Moore should have taken a different tack than if he was writing a novel?

 

Rowling will have to comfort herself with all that money she's earned from Harry.  To be fair, Moore's use of Harry is so OTT, and the voice is so different from what I know of Harry's that her creation does exist over there, removed from the carnage on display here.

It would be as if Moore wrote a LOEG-in-the-future story and the villain turned out to be Mister Spock, unnamed, of course. And how he assassinated Captain Kirk, euthanised Doctor McCoy, dried out Scotty, destroyed the Federation, stomped on some tribbles and crashed the Enterprise into Vulcan. Because he's "emotionless!" And he already has the pointed ears!

 

Why shouldn't he?  Why shouldn't any writer?  I wouldn't be against anyone using such a storyline with thinly disguised characters, so long as a good story came out of it, or some insight into the Star Trek phenomenon.

I can't quote chapter and verse like you can Figs but this is how I feel. Moore wanted to twist Bond around because he was a British government agent who can literally get away with murder. As both DC Comics and Harry Potter are owned by the same company, Moore tweaks two for the price of one. He chooses them because they are better known to the general public that the Doctor or Steed. Also could you see DC actually publishing this?? Anyone? 

The Potter books aren't a thesis for the cultural, anthropological and psychological history of magic. They are about adolescence, the coming of age, destiny and duty. The choice between "what-is-right" and "what-is-easy". You don't have to explain magic; you simply believe in it.

Yes Moore has had many of his works turned into movies and we are all well aware of his feelings for said movies, so he wouldn't be a tad bitter about those!

I don't know how "far removed" Moore's take is from the real one since we all immediately knew who it was from the wrecked train! For someone known for his subtlety, he uses a sledge-hammer here!

My point about Spock was that such an approach would surely offend the Trekkers as much as this would offend the Potterheads.

 

He chooses them because they are better known to the general public that the Doctor or Steed.

 

Within the text there is support for my thesis that he picks on Potter and Bond because they are 'monstrous' in their repsective ways, whereas I don't see any corraboration for yours.  Their popularity puts them in the spotlight, but not in the envious way you are proposing.  When a whole society idolises these characters, and is functionally blind to their failings, that is pretty damning of the society and worthy of comment in a work of literature.

 

You talk about 'sacred' above, but Moore 'believes in' magic to some extent.  The watered-down, unenlightened kids storybook pretense at magic in the Potter books is a profound insult to Moore the Magicians 'quasi-religious' beliefs.  'Magic' and creativity are profoundly bound up as far as Moore is concerned, so the Potter's books failings on the creative level while selling 'magic' are obviously a sore spot with him.  Your discussion with the Baron above intimates that what someone sees as 'sacred' in their belief-structure does have a higher worth than when something is 'sacred' because a lot of people , including kids, have bought into it.  Moore, for whom magic and creativity are definitely 'sacred', has some justification for his anger.

 

No, Rowling didn't set out to discuss how magic worked, but her text is out there, hugely influential, and magic is part of what it is selling.  Moore is at liberty to pick and choose through the Potter books and decide what to lampoon and to highlight, just as he did with Alice in Wonderland, War of the Worlds, the Invisible Man etc. Note that many of the previous characters in LOEG were from so-called 'children's books' too.

You might be right that Potter's position as the jewel in Warner's crown made it all the sweeter to lampoon him though.  Warner is a huge corporate giant with near infinite resources and an army of lawyers.  So Moore is 'kicking against the pricks' a little?  Don't expect me to cry for Warners in this.

 

DC have very dubious taste in deciding what to publish and what not to. That they wouldn't publish LOEG 2009 doesn't say anything one way or the other regarding its literary or moral worth.

 

I'm sure they wish now, as they have many times over the last 25 years, that they had more leverage over Mr Moore than they do, to affect his output.

 

If you are saying that Harry Potter zapping Alan Quatermain with his magic weinie and the rest of the not-officially-sanctioned grossness offended you, then of course I can't argue with that.

Come to think of it, there may be mileage in your linking of Moore's use of Warner property Harry and Warner's use of Moore's Watchmen.  Hence Harry's backstory gets re-written and his story is vulgarised, removed from its original context, removed from its original creator, and shoehorned into another story and sensibility entirely from what it was originally conceived as, and the character deliberately given a completely different voice and personality.

 

Maybe it's a lesson for me as well as for you, but you seem to be arguing that Harry's appearance here retroactively contaminates what went on in the seven books Rowling wrote, whereas you and others have argued that the work of JMS et al on Beneath Watchmen doesn't affect Moore and Gibbons superlative 12 issues, and can be removed from them in a tidy, well-ordered mind.

No, Century 2009 in no way affects my enjoyment of the series or has any impact on my interpretation of them just the same as Before Watchmen will not damage Watchmen. Harry will remain Harry to his fans.

But instead of using a public domain character or having a cameo by Harry, Moore uses J.K. Rowlings' characters, settings and theme as the centerpiece of his story. Without Harry as the Antichrist, there is no shock value, no contraversy, no insult to injury. And that's the best Moore can do because he can't really damage Harry or somehow negate his effect on pop culture.

What would you think if Moore had a nameless Lord of Time in a big box filled with the dried-out husks of former companions while eating jellie babies be the Antichrist? Or any other character that's dear to you!

He could make made any nameless hero from fiction in that role, why is so important that it be Harry Potter?

As a Potter fan, I thought it was an interesting bit of satire.  It didn't really bother me at all, no more so than when Batman is lampooned as a pedophile. Was it a bit of a surprise to see Potter portrayed as the Anti-Christ?  Sure, but ultimately it's still just a story.

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