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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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!

Ron M. said:

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?
 

I wouldn't chalk that up to the writers being "insecure." I'd attribute that to the belief that what they're doing has to be "kewl" and different ... and the failure to realize there's nothing different about turning the hero into a villain.

I've never had a more than ambivalent attitude to Harry Potter, so I don't really understand the dismay on a personal level. 

All's fair in raising a chuckle (and/or, as here, addressing certain literary and philosophical issues) as far as I'm concerned.

I'm trying to think of a parallel with a character that I really love.

I love Superman but by this stage have read *countless* stories where he or his anologues go off the deep end much as Harry does in LoEG 2009.  Some of them have been great.  Top of the list of recent examples is Mark Waid's Irredeemable

Is Mark Waid insecure/ trying to be "kewl" and different?

As an Irish nationalist, I have a lot of time for Michael Collins, a very famous Irish revolutionary.  In the Preacher flashback to the 1916 Rising, Garth Ennis had Cassidy kick Collins forcefully and painfully between the legs as part of the outworking of his story (and it was clear that Ennis felt that Collins and his lot deserved that boot, on some level. )

I managed to cope with that without accusing Ennis of bitterness, jealousy or insecurity, ... and Collins was a much-loved real-life person, not a figment of someone's imagination!

It might help to see characters in fictional stories as metaphors rather than real people.  It's great if creators can give the impression of reality to fictional entities, but at the end of the day they are just ideas that can be examined, tested, presented differently and even made fun of. 

This world needs a laugh now and again...

There are ways of presenting fictional characters that actually hurt real people in real ways, by reinforcing unhelpful attitudes or received opinions.  (And Moore sails close to the wind in this regard in several places in LoEG himself.)  I personally think criticism is better pointed towards those instances than the case in hand.

"In the first six pages of Irredeemable Vol. One a Batman-esque vigilante named The Hornet is instantly incinerated by a simple gaze from a mysterious attacker. Frozen in fear, The Hornet’s daughter weeps uncontrollably near her father’s charred remains. The murderer flies up to the newly orphaned girl and whispers “I’m a super-hero.” The killer wasn’t lying. The Hornet’s murderer is revealed to be The Plutonian, the world’s greatest super-hero and The Hornet’s former comrade. It is up to the world’s remaining super-hero team, The Paradigm, to find the cause of The Plutonian’s sudden insanity and hopefully put an end to his world wide killing spree."

That's from a review of the first issue of St Mark Waid's Irredeemable.  On the face of it, Waid is doing to Superman exactly what Moore did to Harry P. ie turning him into a psychopathic, scarily powerful killer whose allotted role in life has turned him murderously insane.  During the course of Irredeemable, we see the Justice League analogues the Paradigm, being killed in grotesque and awful ways, just the same as we see the analogues of Harry's chums horrendously eradicated in LoEG 2009.

I ask again, is Waid being insecure, bitter or trying too hard to be "kewl"?  What qualities of Waid's work, ah ...redeem it in comparison to Moore's?

Waid was telling a story and a complicated one. It lasted 36 issues, I believe and had a spinoff Incorruptible. Of course, we recognize the parallels with Superman and other characters but Waid tweaks them enough so that they become separate from their sources. And he hits the emotions and motivations that any fictional character needs to make itself believable. Sure the premise was "What If Superman Turned Heel?" but the execution was far more and that ending....

Moore used Harry as a punchline/revenge fantasy. It wasn't a cameo or a clever in-joke but the denouement of his three-part story in which he played no part in the first two parts. We know nothing about why his Harry turned evil or why he killed his friends or teachers. Or why we should care about any of them except as analogues to Rowling's creations.

He didn't bother with altering the names "Larry Kotter" or "Morty Vott" and he didn't make them feel real like he did Mina. Or Quartermain. Or Moriarty. Or Nemo. Or Hyde. Or even Bond.

They were just props dressed up for shock value. And after the shock wore off, forgettable which is something I've never equated with any work by Moore.

I thought it was a cheap ending which did him no favors.

IMHO, of course!

More spadework needed by Moore.  Fair enough.  But I still don't see much of a difference substantively.  If Moore thinks a particular text that has turned up in his centuries-long chronological survey of genre fiction is worthy of scorn, then he has every right to convert that into the terms of his metatextual fictional project.  He's honest about the scorn, so there's integrity of a sort there.

I can see exactly why Moore used Mary Poppins as he did, as I argue above.  It was, unlike Harry, very very respectful of the source material, but even more than with Harry, he didn't quite explain her appearance within the story itself.  I supose that's unsatisfactory.  (But then again, Poppins herself completely ignores and upends any rules which might bind her.  That is her whole point.)

I'd deem it problemmatic that so much of the meaning in much of these LoEG books exist in texts outside the series itself.  I like intertextuality very much, as I've argued elsewhere, but some of LoEG goes too far for my tastes.

Roses of Berlin was hard to enjoy on any level for me.  As you say the lady Nemo was great and to catch up with her was good, but ...

Ah well, it is what it is. 

I agree with some of what you say in terms of poor artistic choices by Moore, even though he is about 1,000,000 times more qualified to decide what makes for a good artistic choice than I am, but I'd never resort to name-calling and disparagement of his character on acount of those choices.

Moore is also telling a complicated multi-layered tale...

Hmm.

I would argue Irredeemable wasn't really about Superman at all.  The Plutonian was certainly an important character, but it was really more about the other characters and how they reacted to the Plutonian's madness and everything around it. I wouldn't really call it deconstructionist in any way.

As I said before, I see Moore's use of Harry Potter here to be a bit of satire about the cult of popularity and less an actual dig at Rowling or the characters themselves.  I think that it's a shame that people are reading far more into this story than is actually there.  Sure, Potter is the big bad, but it could just as easily have been Mary Poppins, or Biggles, or Scott of the Antarctic (actually, the latter would have been glorious). 

Essentially, I don't think it matters so much that it's Harry Potter that is the grand villain du jour.  It's a decent work by Moore, maybe not on a par with Top Ten or V for Vendetta but certainly not as terrible as The Killing Joke. At the end of the day, it's a story.  Why get worked up over who the villain is(unless it's, you know, Killer Moth or someone irredeemably lame like that in which case I'll light the pitchforks and sharpen the torches).

But if Barbara Gordon hadn't fought Killer Moth she wouldn't have started on the trail that led to The Killing Joke.

She clearly should have battled the Condiment King instead.

Ron M. said:

But if Barbara Gordon hadn't fought Killer Moth she wouldn't have started on the trail that led to The Killing Joke.

She might relish that.. Give her a chance to mustard her forces. Ketchup to other costumed characters.

 

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