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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DneColt said:

Thanks for posting the link to that Wired interview.

 

You're welcome Mr Colt. Sorry if I seemed to be bundling you in with the nabobs of negativity there. Your reading made a good start into the 'problem' of Harry.

 

On the one hand, I still can't see that Moore is sympathetic to any version of Harry, except perhaps as someone who has  been a witless pawn in-story from such a young age. Perhaps Harry's rebellion in LOEG is a somewhat justified response to that.

 

Last night I watched a documentary Moore made called 'The Mindscape of Alan Moore'. He doesn't say anything about Harry Potter, but does complain of the power of mass media to make everyone think the same thoughts and believe the same things, especially when the message is often so banal and stupifying. He also talks about, as I mentioned before, how art and magic are practically the same thing in his worldview. Again, I feel Harry would be a poor showcase for either by his lights.

 

But that's strictly my opinion. When I read it first, his use of Harry struck me as very unsubtle and discordant in tone with the rest of LOEG, but the more I think of it, the more troubling and interesting and multi-layered it seems. Unless Alan does an interview tomorrow explaining it all, people will be discussing it and finding new meanings in it for a very long time.

 

That it produces such an unfortunately visceral reaction in some would show that he's hit some kind of nerve.

 

My initial reaction to your post was that you were bringing too much of the adaptation 'controversy' into the text that wasn't there, but thinking about it further there are other starting points for a discussion about that thorny topic in LOEG 2009. Particularly with the multiple Bonds. We see the real Bond of 2009 is a syphilitic, paranoid hate-filled old invalid with a duff liver, but yet, there are a parade of younger versions too, all calling themselves James Bond.

 

People have cited Bond above, as an example of successful adaptation into other media and other stories, but Moore is making the point that the quintessence of the post WWII Cold War agent that Fleming created has indeed been lost. Maybe the latest, more monogamous, more laddish version is some kind of an 'improvement' on the cold, imperialist, public-school educated killer of the books, but there's no doubt something has been lost in the adaptation, no matter how much money the films brought the producers, nor how much more familiar the public are with the imposters in the movies than the character in the books.

As for LOEG: Century itself (the topic, as you point out, of this thread) I still haven't processed it yet, I've only had time to read the third volume once, and without the benefit of Jess Nevins excellent annotations (which, I've found, I reallly need to even begin to recognize most of the characters). Likely, I'll also have to re-read the first two (plus the Black Dossier).

 

Too be fair, half the thread title concerns Alan Moore's Bitter Hollows, but it was just the terms of the discussion of that I was taking issue with.

 

I too have only read 2009 once, but I'm looking forward to rereading the whole series, maybe intersplicing the Black Dossier in chronologically, although it does have it's own story fitted somewhere in between LOEG 1910 and 1969.

 

I'm turning off superheroes these days, so a readthrough of LOEG might be just the ticket.  I'm in the middle of a house-move at the moment, and the only books I left out of the boxes were all my Phantom collections and all my Tintin books.  I should have left out the LOEG books too, I see now!

 

Nevins is fine for all those references, but there are good stories in the LOEG books that the reader doesn't necessarily need all those obscure references to follow.  I've found all the Mindless Ones commentaries on the later books to be great at focusing on the narrative and emotional and craft aspects of the books, while still being very enlightening regarding the references.

 

Whatever you're opinion of Moore and the book, I think it's nice that there are still comics out there that require that level of attention -- and inspire such vociferous debate. 

 

So long s its the contents of the books that inspire the debate, its a good thing.

Kirk G said:

Based upon this discussion, I went and looked up Century 2009 and discovered this is part of a 240 page work that has been spanning three graphic novels.  I'm tempted to try to pick it up, of only to see that great HP ending. Er, it is the ending, isn't it?

 

It's pretty much the whole book. Certainly a large part in the middle and then the whole climax.

 

Completely off-topic, but...

 

I was shopping at Target today and saw this:

I think it was called the "F- You, Alan Moore" triple pack.

I think it would have to include The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen to earn that title :)

Alan M. said:

Completely off-topic, but...

 

I was shopping at Target today and saw this:

I think it was called the "F- You, Alan Moore" triple pack.

To Figs:

Now that I've finally seen some episodes of the British Avengers, I get your point about the differences between James Bond and John Steed, at least on their views of women. Steed's women truly loved him and he loved them back and respected them.
(Unfortunately now I have a bit of a crush on Diana Riggs/Emma Peel!)

I also reread Nemo: The Roses of Berlin. It's not as great as the first two LOEG but it's a nice chapter of that world. Not sure if I would publish a book where a huge part is in German without subtitles but that's just me.

The fact that he treats Steed, the Doctor and Mary Poppins quite respectfully does seem to show that it is not Harry Potter's and Bond's success - mmmm per se - that Moore finds problematic about them.

When Harry Met Mary...

I've been doing some background research on LoEG 2009 myself as I've just finished reading a chapter a night of Mary Poppins to my 5 year-old, not to mention watching the movie a few times and having the soundtrack CD on permanent rotation for several weeks in the car.

Having read the book, especially, I can see why Moore has her arrive and almost literally wipe the floor with the Harry Potter character in LOEG 2009.  The book Mary Poppins is wonderful on several levels.

Most pertinently, magic in the book is always something strange and unsettling, unexpected and unexplainable.  Rather than being something codified and contained, safe and explained as in the Harry Potter books.  No disrespect to Rowling's acheivements, but I'm sure someone like Moore wouldn't look kindly on how she has portrayed her world of wonders as a mish-mash of old and second hand ideas of magic as something done by wizards with pointy hats who keep pet griffins and speak spells in cod-latin.  In both Moore's and Mary Poppins' philosophy magic is something alive and startling and has its life in strangeness and creativity.

Mary arrives in the family as a force for change and danger, and we get a minimum of explanation about her.  She sems to be an incredibly powerful magic user, that some of the most powerful beings in the book practically bow down before. 

I loved the whole book, actually, and would recommend it to anyone reading these words.  There's lots for a grown-up to enjoy.

The book itself is magical.  For instance, we are told in the straight-faced narrative that the kids' father works in a bank where he makes money - actually makes it by cutting circles out of sheets fo brass and cutting rectanngles out of sheets of paper.

Which is no more preposterous than what goes on in banks anyway.

The other reason Moore would place Poppins above Potter is in how class is depicted in the book.  Mary is a hard-working working-class nanny in a very well-off middle-class home.  She plays mind-games with her boss, the mother, in order to get better conditions and longer time off.  Although according to the work-contracts and conditions of the time the employers would have had all the power, it's clear that Mary makes a point of winning small victories.  In the book Mary's inner life is mysterious, but she seems to be having a romance of sorts with Bert the street artist.  She loves him for his good heart and doesn't judge him on his appearances.  The book doesn't quite romanticise Bert's life as the film does.  There is genuine disappointment when she sees that Bert doesn't have the funds to treat her to a day out, and the reader feels the unfairness of this.

Mary is a working-class warrior really.  Clearly a politically conscious child of poor parents who somehow became an initiate of powerful magickal forces.  Much like Moore himself! :-)

The politics of Potter are more dodgy.  Nothing could be more upper-class and exclusive than a British boarding school anyway, but this is one where a whole class are educated in how to be bear the burdens of being born superior to the 'Muggles'.  Then it is all overseen by bearded patriachs, reinforcing society's less helpful gender stereotypes. The subtext of Potter is that this is all as it should be, which both myself and Mr Moore, for a start would take issue with...

No-one mentions witches or wizards in Mary Poppins, but the lowly female home-help that is the star is clearly a force to be reckoned with. She expplodes all assumptions about where power - social, sexual, magical - lies.

(The movie Saving Mr Banks, about the author of Mary Poppins has come out since last we discussed this series, so she is a bit more widely known than before, and Mary Poppins has become a little more topical.  P L Travers was born here in Queensland in the next big town west of where I sit, actually!)



Figserello said:

The politics of Potter are more dodgy.  Nothing could be more upper-class and exclusive than a British boarding school anyway, but this is one where a whole class are educated in how to be bear the burdens of being born superior to the 'Muggles'.  Then it is all overseen by bearded patriachs, reinforcing society's less helpful gender stereotypes. The subtext of Potter is that this is all as it should be, which both myself and Mr Moore, for a start would take issue with...

For some reason, I now want to commission Warren Ellis to write "The Punisher Goes to Hogwarts".  ;)

You didn't think enough bloody carnage was visited on that honourable institution in Moore's book?  

...Sicko.

Baron = smartarse

About the "bearded patriarchs"

  • Two of Hogwarts' founders were women
  • Two of the Houses were run by women.
  • Many teachers were women
  • Professor McGonagall eventually became the Headmistress
  • There was both a Head Boy and a Head Girl
  • The girls played Quidditch
  • Women were members of both the Order of the Phoenix and Dumbledore's Army
  • Hermione was the brains of the bunch

Just to put things into perspective. 

Well, Rowling is a woman, after all, and quite a clever one, as things have panned out.  Even she had to attend to the optics of it all eventually.

Still, I can see why Moore identified the all-important magic wand with Harry's penis in his lampoon...

It's been done already to Mission Impossible. Are writers today so insecure that they have to attack what came before to feel like they've accomplished something?
 
Philip Portelli said:

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!

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