The trouble with eternal life

League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: Century 1969
by Alan Moore & Kevin O’Neill

The first two volumes in the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen series were fantastic, a book lover’s dream, so I have continued buying all of the series even as they have gone (in my opinion) seriously downhill.

If you haven’t read any of this series, I recommend you check out the first two books and don’t read this review, because part of the pleasure of the first book is figuring out who the characters are. The first set were all taken from Victorian fiction, and some of those characters became the League, but the hints were dropped slowly as to who was who (in most cases, some were clear from the start).

Since those brilliantly clever beginnings, the plot has jumped forward in time to 1958 (The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: Black Dossier), back to 1910 (The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: Century 1910) and now 1969. A final book set in 2009 is in the works.

In this volume, Mina and Allen are growing weary of eternal life (already!) and Orlando is, as ever, mid-change, so there’s a lot of tension in their little group. They have been called upon to investigate the murder of a pop star, which turns out to be related to a circle of black magicians and an attempt to create an antichrist (spot the Harry Potter references…).

As ever, every character and most (if not all) of the background detail is a reference to books, TV or films set in or around 1969. Possibly I’m not as familiar with that time, or possibly the references are getting more obscure (this has been mooted by a few critics) but I didn’t get that pleasure I got from the first few volumes at recognising the fictional references and how they all fitted together. And the 1960s setting appears to have given Moore licence to go all out on the sex front, with far too much of it for my liking (I’m no prude, but I prefer to read about it rather than see it). Add in drugs and psychedelia and it was pretty hard to follow what was actually a simple plot.

No doubt I will still buy the last book in the series, and I am interested to see what 2009 references it will incorporate, but I don’t hold high hopes for it being as good as the first volume.

Published 2011 by Knockabout Comics.