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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And that's the best Moore can do because he can't really damage Harry or somehow negate his effect on pop culture.

 

As I say, he's just kicking against the pricks, but sometimes that's all you can do...

 

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.

 

As I say, you're probably on to something with Moore using Harry because of perceived wrongs against himself perpetuated by Warners.  That's what gives this its sharpness.  So if Moore wanted to cause shock value, contraversy, and insult to injury then he was right to use Harry in this way.  It depends on his motives.

 

He uses Harry in particular because he is the big fantasy/adventure character of the early 21st century pop cultural landscape, as Dracula, Holmes and Bond and Hyde were of their ages.  However, he portrays him in such an upsetting way to you and the tabloid press of Great Britain because he does have both literary and personal bones to pick with Harry and Warners.  Two for one, as you say.

 

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!

 

If Moore did it?  I'd eat it up, because he'd probably do it well, and with artistic and moral purpose.  Moore has been doing this forever, though.  Adam Strange, Mr Mxyzptlk, Batman in Swamp Thing.  He has subverted many fine characters, to great effect and with strong storytelling reasons.  Good literature makes us look twice at what we formerly took for granted, and to examine the reasons we don't look twice at certain things.

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.

 

A story in a story about stories, at that.

Did it cause a stir in Great Britain? I had no idea. This is just me ranting. I just didn't find it a good ending. It seemed lazy to me to use Harry as the "villain" without much foreshadowing besides Voldemort getting nasty with Mina in 1969. Maybe I'm overly sensitive but if Moore can attack the Harry Potter stories, I can surely defend them!

And yes I would have been equally offended if Superman or Batman had been "picked on" as well. Even though they're just stories, I would prefer they be good stories.

I'm not allowed to read Moore's current work because I am reading DC's "Before Watchmen" series. :(



Jeff of Earth-J said:

I'm not allowed to read Moore's current work because I am reading DC's "Before Watchmen" series. :(

Jeff gets it.

See, I read it in a totally different way. I think he was sticking up for Harry Potter.

I think the over-arching theme of LOEG is Moore's stringent belief that a character's purest form is as they were initially conceived by the author (with the exception of Steed and Mrs Peel, I'm hard-pressed to think of a major character in the series who was not initially a literary creation). James Bond, for example -- as conceived by Ian Fleming -- was misogynistic, imperialistic, and possibly psychotic, so his portrayal in the series didn't surprise me at all.

I think the whole Harry Potter thing isn't a knock at JK Rowling and the Harry Potter of the novels, I think it's a slam at Hollywood.

Given Potter's huge Hollywood success (I mean, think about it, Deathly Hallows was published in 2009, but the "End of Harry Potter" stories didn't start until last summer, with the final installment in the movie  series - those characters belong to Hollywood, now), and given Moore's open, vigorous, and vocal hatred of Hollywood, it makes perfect sense that he would portray Potter's world as a blasted, eviscerated version of itself -- those seven novels were strip-mined and exploited by Hollywood, in Moore's view. 

I got the impression from the dialogue that Harry's perversion (in Century, 2009) was very much thrust upon him by Haddo/Riddle, whom I took to represent the spirit of the 20th century (namely, the forces of Big Money). I felt like Moore was offering a much bigger commentary on the debasement of the culture in this century, how everything has now become a property to be exploited.

I don't know anyone who read the books first who didn't find the movies a letdown in some way -- a favorite character left out, a scene skipped, whatever. But, from my point of view, the impact of the movies went farther than that. I read the first novel in 1998, and up until 2002 -- when the first movie came out -- I had completely different pictures in my head of the each character, and in each and every case, the casting was different than what I had in mind (except Dumbledore, Richard Harris was pretty awesome). Now, I can't read one of those books and NOT picture Emma Watson, Alan Rickman or Maggie Smith. The movies literally destroyed the conceptions of the characters I had in my head -- which I sort of think was Moore's point.

I honestly haven't read the latest LoEG, but I have read this entire discussion and David's assessment rings truest to me.

DneColt said:

I don't know anyone who read the books first who didn't find the movies a letdown in some way -- a favorite character left out, a scene skipped, whatever. But, from my point of view, the impact of the movies went farther than that. I read the first novel in 1998, and up until 2002 -- when the first movie came out -- I had completely different pictures in my head of the each character, and in each and every case, the casting was different than what I had in mind (except Dumbledore, Richard Harris was pretty awesome). Now, I can't read one of those books and NOT picture Emma Watson, Alan Rickman or Maggie Smith. The movies literally destroyed the conceptions of the characters I had in my head -- which I sort of think was Moore's point.

I can understand that phenomenon, although I don't accept it as a rationale for not making movies of comics or stories from other media, which also seems to be part of Moore's point. If I was to read a James Bond novel -- which, in fact, I never have and have little desire to start -- I suppose the experience, by Moore's lights, would be ruined because I might picture Roger Moore, or George Lazenby, or Timothy Dalton, instead of Hoagy Carmichael, who was neither a secret agent nor an actor, so far as I know. It's like saying Superman is ruined forever for those who have ever seen the Kirk Alyn serials, or the George Reeve TV series, or the Christopher Reeve movies, etc. and so forth.

I take the view that movies are movies and comics are comics and novels are novels, and each version is different -- not better or worse because one is a movie and one is a comic and one is a novel.

Asssuming for the moment that this is Moore's point -- I have no idea, and I'd hate to appear to put words in his mouth, 'cause he might shake his mighty beard and cast a spell on me -- isn't that (potentially) an argument against stories with pictures, as opposed to pure prose?  Was reading Watchmen as a comic rather than a novel a lesser experience because we all saw Gibbons' artwork, rather than creating our own images in our head?

But hasn't every great (and not-so-great) book been turned into a movie or TV series? Using Bond as an example, he has been "recreated" five times!! Not to mention Batman. Star Trek successfully reinvented itself. The day may come, actually I can almost guarantee it, that the Potter films will be remade, for better or worse. But that generation will have new images, new voices for Harry and his world!

But yes, when I read Lord of the Rings, I hear Sir Ian McKellen as Gandalf but I don't hear him when I'm reading about Magneto. ;-)

BTW, my laptop is down and I'm doing this at the library. Hope to be back regularly soon! Peace to all!

DneColt said:

I don't know anyone who read the books first who didn't find the movies a letdown in some way -- a favorite character left out, a scene skipped, whatever. But, from my point of view, the impact of the movies went farther than that. I read the first novel in 1998, and up until 2002 -- when the first movie came out -- I had completely different pictures in my head of the each character, and in each and every case, the casting was different than what I had in mind (except Dumbledore, Richard Harris was pretty awesome). Now, I can't read one of those books and NOT picture Emma Watson, Alan Rickman or Maggie Smith. The movies literally destroyed the conceptions of the characters I had in my head -- which I sort of think was Moore's point.

 

ClarkKent_DC said:

I can understand that phenomenon, although I don't accept it as a rationale for not making movies of comics or stories from other media, which also seems to be part of Moore's point. If I was to read a James Bond novel -- which, in fact, I never have and have little desire to start -- I suppose the experience, by Moore's lights, would be ruined because I might picture Roger Moore, or George Lazenby, or Timothy Dalton, instead of Hoagy Carmichael, who was neither a secret agent nor an actor, so far as I know. It's like saying Superman is ruined forever for those who have ever seen the Kirk Alyn serials, or the George Reeve TV series, or the Christopher Reeve movies, etc. and so forth.

 

I take the view that movies are movies and comics are comics and novels are novels, and each version is different -- not better or worse because one is a movie and one is a comic and one is a novel.

 

Doctor Hmmm? said:

Asssuming for the moment that this is Moore's point -- I have no idea, and I'd hate to appear to put words in his mouth, 'cause he might shake his mighty beard and cast a spell on me -- isn't that (potentially) an argument against stories with pictures, as opposed to pure prose?  Was reading Watchmen as a comic rather than a novel a lesser experience because we all saw Gibbons' artwork, rather than creating our own images in our head?

You see what I'm getting at, Doctor; Moore's plaints don't wash.

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