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July 28, 2012 11:26 AM   Subscribe

Four Micro-Essays on League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: 2009 (contains spoilers), a look at the concluding part of Alan Moore and Kevin O'Neill's 3 part LoEG: Century series in which the league face off against a headline grabbing villain (extreme spoiler warning) and which spookily presaged some of last nights Olympic opening. Previous Moore and O'Neill. Obligatory annotations from Jess Nevins.
posted by Artw (37 comments total) 16 users marked this as a favorite

 
I always thought it was odd that there was nothing in the fish guy's tank. I mean, he's intelligent right? wouldn't he have some sort of decor? an iPad in a ziplock? one of those treasure chests that make bubbles? nothing? really?
posted by sexyrobot at 11:30 AM on July 28, 2012 [1 favorite]


Oh good, the Nevins and Mindless Ones annotations are out! I'll have to dive back in.

Love this series.
posted by painquale at 11:33 AM on July 28, 2012


Yeah I was surprised there was no Tolkien but perhaps it can derived secondhand. Pink Floyd got the last word, upstaging even Sir Paul in the massive fireworks crescendo. Though unlike Paul, most people don't know the musicians of Pink Floyd, or the background vocals by Clare Torry.
posted by stbalbach at 11:49 AM on July 28, 2012


The problem I had with the ending is that P is never fleshed out. He's been drugged up for years hiding in a house? They could have gone whole hog with a critique of "those video game playing kids these days" and made him an avatar of the times, but instead he's a schizophrenic mess who becomes Godzilla.
posted by benzenedream at 12:06 PM on July 28, 2012 [1 favorite]


You know what the single greatest thing about LoEG right now?

Tracey Jordan exists as a real actor who starred in Who Dat Ninja.
posted by The Whelk at 1:18 PM on July 28, 2012 [1 favorite]


Controversial rapper Fur-Q is also a thing.
posted by Artw at 1:22 PM on July 28, 2012


I also appreciated the little easter egg about the true identity of Judi Dench's M from the Brosnan/Craig 007 films, as well as the acknowledgement of "James Bond" as a pseudonym attached to multiple agents over time.
posted by Strange Interlude at 2:00 PM on July 28, 2012 [1 favorite]


You know what the single greatest thing about LoEG right now?

Tracey Jordan exists as a real actor who starred in Who Dat Ninja.


Does this mean that Who Dat Ninja is now a real person in our universe?
posted by Strange Interlude at 2:05 PM on July 28, 2012


I just picked up Absolute LEG 2 and Impossible Territories, the Nevins annotation book for the Black Dossier (there are several pages on the Tube map that appears in the background of one panel.)

The "modern culture sucks" riff in 2009 really did seem no different than crotchety complaining about those kids with their hair and their music. And it didn't even seem at all in place given how straightforward the whole series has been about the fact that every era sucked for a whole lot of people.
posted by Zed at 2:33 PM on July 28, 2012 [1 favorite]


Tracey Jordan exists as a real actor who starred in Who Dat Ninja.

See, that (as well as the nods to Malcolm Tucker character from In The Loop and to some fictional US President (24's David Palmer?)) made LOEG 2009 feel a lot like fanfic to me.
posted by gauche at 3:30 PM on July 28, 2012


LoEG has always been fanfic, you're just picking up on more of the references now.
posted by The Whelk at 3:42 PM on July 28, 2012 [1 favorite]


Oh, it's definitely thickly referential. I just felt like 2009 was cheapening itself by its particular references.
posted by gauche at 3:48 PM on July 28, 2012


The Whelk: Worse, it's slashfic.

I always was amused that people hated on the movie version of LOEG, given that the movie did the exact same thing to Moore's story that Moore did to the original stories and characters.
posted by happyroach at 3:59 PM on July 28, 2012 [3 favorites]


Does Moore ever reference video games? Or is that just out of his scope entirely?
posted by Bwithh at 4:30 PM on July 28, 2012


It seems like it is just a universe personed exclusively with fictional characters, like the passersby are probably unnamed fictional characters out of some other book. It makes sense that a fictional Tracy Jordan would be making movies in a universe full of fictional characters. It is a bit odd he is using other people's satire in his own satire. It is almost like he wrote a universe where A Modest Proposal was dead serious.
posted by Ad hominem at 4:31 PM on July 28, 2012


I'm not entirely sure Moore has a computer. If he does then you can probably open it up and see straw and mice inside.
posted by Artw at 4:32 PM on July 28, 2012 [3 favorites]


Yup, it's all other peoples fictional characters, even the bystanders. That's the conceit of the LoEG universe. There's other fictional universes that do the same thing, of course - the world of Anno Dracula, Wold Newton etc... frequently they mix in historical characters, LoEG eschews that more or less entirely for the fictional version sof people.

The interesting thing about those universes is they are all- doing sort of the same thing, roughly the same set of characters, all quite distinct universes. I think really the term for that is more "mash-up" than "fan-fic", but if you want to call it fan-fic it fits. Crazy awesome fan-fic with a ton of insight and thick that manages to be it's own thing.

always was amused that people hated on the movie version of LOEG, given that the movie did the exact same thing to Moore's story that Moore did to the original stories and characters.

People hate the movie version of LOEG because a good movie version of LOEG would be pretty cool and we got some shit instead. So it's not that people hate it for fitting into that category of thing, it's just that people have taste and expectations.
posted by Artw at 4:44 PM on July 28, 2012 [1 favorite]


According to one of the bloggers linked in the OP, the only 21st century pop culture character with speech lines ( and these in the background & on TV, too) in LOEG 2009 is The Thick of It's (originaL and best) Malcolm Tucker. All the others are silent.
posted by Bwithh at 4:56 PM on July 28, 2012


Correction'- one of the links linked from the links. from the Mindless Ones Blog
posted by Bwithh at 5:06 PM on July 28, 2012


Mr. P being from 1997 onwards and not completly himself anyway, I guess that's technically correct.
posted by Artw at 5:09 PM on July 28, 2012


Tracey Jordan exists as a real actor who starred in Who Dat Ninja.

Sure but how does it tie in to the end of St Elsewhere?
posted by lumpenprole at 5:21 PM on July 28, 2012


LoEG could be either the dreamer or the dream there. Or be dreamers all the way down.
posted by Artw at 5:26 PM on July 28, 2012


According to one of the bloggers linked in the OP, the only 21st century pop culture character with speech lines ( and these in the background & on TV, too) in LOEG 2009 is The Thick of It's (originaL and best) Malcolm Tucker. All the others are silent.

J6, the Daniel Craig version of James Bond, has a line. I guess it depends on how you individuate characters.
posted by painquale at 5:57 PM on July 28, 2012


People hate the movie version of LOEG because a good movie version of LOEG would be pretty cool and we got some shit instead.

It's not brilliant by a long stretch, but it's got a trashy B-Movie appeal that I think works.

I say this while recalling the film adaptation of V For Vendetta, in which that simple premise was still several miles ahead of the Wachowski Bros.

Aside from the legal/copyright issues, I can't actually see a faithful LOEG film adaptation working. There's a pace to the work that would be difficult to translate to screen. Plus, the whole thing depends on at least a surface knowledge of the stories and characters it references.

Watchmen has to remain the closest we're going to get to an accurate Alan Moore adaptation, flawed as it is.
posted by panboi at 6:13 PM on July 28, 2012


Reading an interview with Alan Moore about "2009" that could be summed up as "everything was better when I was a kid, get the hell off my lawn," left me unreasonably sad. I don't know why I expected more from him, but I guess I did.
posted by Harvey Jerkwater at 7:08 PM on July 28, 2012


I really enjoyed trying to count the Doctors hidden in the backgrounds of scenes.

Spotting Thunderbird 2 taking off in the background of one conversation was a little bit awesome too.

Oh, and President Bartlet's mention. Aw yeah.
posted by Wataki at 7:39 PM on July 28, 2012


Here's the specific quote:
"Andrew: And one point I don’t think we made before, when discussing to what extent Moore is able to comment on the culture of 2009 as opposed to earlier decades, is just how few characters from 21st century fiction actually appear here. We’ve got the odd background character who doesn’t say or do anything, but in the whole book the only character with a speaking role to have been created in the decade in which the comic is supposedly set is Malcolm Tucker, who’s just a talking head on a TV. Even the Potter characters (none of whom except Potter have more than one line) were created in the mid-1990s — and other than them, there’s not a speaking character in the comic that originated post-1976.

This is a huge change from all the other League volumes, which mixed and matched eras, obviously, but showed a real in-depth knowledge of their time’s popular culture
."

posted by Bwithh at 9:08 PM on July 28, 2012


I may be making this up, but I thought the sparse 21st-century involvement was part of the whole impoverished-culture thesis. If you look at who actually shows up in person, it's a parade of exactly the action-hero end-of-the-world problem-solvers you'd want - the Doctors, Captain Jack, Bonds, Spooks, Hiro Nakamura, Jack Bauer... and all they do is pass silently in the background. The latter-day fictional heroes are still here; they're still trying to protect us from the boogeyman, but... they can't, everything's too far gone.

And there's rot in the culture, and the kids with their hippity hop and their ninja movies. I'm with the Mindless Ones review - Moore's thesis is a lot more subtly and carefully laid out than it seems at first glance, while still essentially coming down to kids and their undesired presence on his lawn.
posted by ormondsacker at 10:25 PM on July 28, 2012


Spotting something that isn't in the annotations gives me a nerd-on (Roger Mellie in the latest)

Did'nt think of if before but not including some video game characters was a bit of an over sight.... I'm sure that Moore has heard of Lara Croft at least (though I'd have loved to have seen Miner Willy in the background somewhere)
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 12:02 PM on July 29, 2012 [1 favorite]


I don't so much mind the "kids these days" aspects of LoeG---it's obviously kind of misguided and silly, but I don't look to artist's for thesis statements (and anyway, Brothers' insistence that figures from the past are "worse" because they are products of a sexist and oppressive culture is such a spectacular act of point-missing that he deserves to read nothing but Clifford Odets and Alice Walker for the next five years). T.S. Eliot doesn't need to be "right" about modern culture's sterility for "The Waste Land" to be a great poem.

But my problem with LoeG 2009 is how Moore's insistence on his thesis that modern culture is drained of imagination has resulted in a rather unimaginative conclusion to this wonderful series. Panel after panel where the only action is a bunch of background characters standing around waiting to be identified. A villain whose nifty backstory goes almost unused. And a deus-Poppins-ex-machina ending that throws away what suspense had been built up so far. Plus, in a book that's about the psychic toll of eternal life, the character seem to bounce back to their old selves awfully quickly---not just fast-recovering Mina, but also Orlando, who starts the book psychically traumatized and is running around buying nice clothes a couple pages later.

I have a little fear that Mina's quick recovery was less due to her resilience, and more due to Moore's wanting to write a book where the men were useless blitherers and the women tip-top battlers, which precluded showing Mina actually shaken by 40 goddamn years in an asylum. Mindless suggested that the book was moving towards the idea of a new age of women, where the old fashioned plot structures of fight-and-resolve no longer apply; hence the sideways conclusion. To which I say: feh. Moore's ambition to stretch comic structure to advance complex ideas sometimes results in great work, but here I think he let his desire to say Something Worthy overwhelm his writer's talent for telling an exciting story, and that's never a good exchange.
posted by ThatFuzzyBastard at 12:23 PM on July 29, 2012 [1 favorite]


TBH I felt the "Where's Waldo for Smart People" effect far more with the previous volume, as well as finding it more downbeat and kind of a drag. 2009 was more about characters that have already been established doing stuff and being active participants in a story, something that's far more enjoyable and which the relative lack of 21st century characters is probably an unit tended side effect of.

I also read the "everything new is rubbish" as more the voice of the characters, who are old as fuck and beginning to show it, than the author. Though he too is getting on a bit, which probably helps with that.
posted by Artw at 12:46 PM on July 29, 2012 [1 favorite]


Brothers' insistence that figures from the past are "worse" because they are products of a sexist and oppressive culture is such a spectacular act of point-missing that he deserves to read nothing but Clifford Odets and Alice Walker for the next five years

Brothers' point was that holding up the past as better than the present was problematic given those aspects of the past. I'm with him, so I guess I'll be off to read by Odets and Walker.
posted by Zed at 3:01 PM on July 29, 2012


But that isn't Brothers' point---or if it is, it totally misunderstands LoeG in a way he doesn't elsewhere. LoeG is not set in our world. It's set in the world of fiction, neighborhood of adventure. What Moore is saying is not that our world is drained of meaning---that's outside of the book's bailiwick. What he's saying is that contemporary fiction is drained of meaning, that it's less imaginative and fanciful than that of earlier eras. Hence his contempt for Harry Potter, which he regards as fundamentally less imaginatively free than Mary Poppins: it domesticates magic into a simple input/output system, rather than something that disrupts all systems.

Being more or less enlightened on matters of race, class, gender, etc. has nothing to do with imaginative verve. If one wanted to be really harsh, one could argue that being enlightened about such things actively restrains the imagination, since it generally manifests as a list of things one is not allowed to put in fiction, and accompanying list of what you must say on all major issues of the day, with a stern warning that you had better not say anything that could be misunderstood. Many of the greatest imaginations belonged to thoroughly unpleasant, small, and crabbed individuals; you wouldn't want Charles Dodgson watching your kids, or Ezra Pound running your government.

But none of this excuses his inability to actually grapple with some of the great contemporary works of imaginative fiction. I guess part of the trouble is that you would have to include a lot of superheroes, who are the closest modern equivalent to something like Quartermain, and Moore's feelings about superheroes are way too complicated to be worked out in a single concluding book (and it would end up turning into Top Ten anyway).

Artw: That's a good point about the "modern life is rubbish" being a nice way to express that these characters are themselves very old people, well past their prime and in a world they don't undertand. Hadn't thought of that, but you're quite right---a post-industrial world is just so confusing for these people, it's little wonder that they retreat in disgust.
posted by ThatFuzzyBastard at 6:31 PM on July 29, 2012


Yeah A lot of the "Things are awful nowadays" stuff I took to mean "here in Fictionland, land of fiction, things have gotten poor and dire and meaningless" and our resident immortals are feeling the apocalyptic despair more than anyone." I mean it's cranky, but it's cranky about modern fantastical fiction. I still read a LOT of his unwritten Twilight Of The Superheros pitch into LOEG 2009, that the end point of all these super-people and adventure stories is just more self-destructive carnage.
posted by The Whelk at 7:16 PM on July 29, 2012 [1 favorite]


TBH honest I don't think he's got it in for Mr. P more than anyone else he's given the same treatment in previous volumes. It's one of those fun things you can do with this kind of fan-ficcy approach - mash all the boy wizards with special destiny's into one, ask what this whe magic kid groomed for special destinies actually sounds like... Well, it sounds like The Omen or something, then see what happens to the cute little boy wizard when they become a nasty 'orrible teenager. For all the headline friendliness of it it's actually all rather well done.

And the one that deals with him, well that is just fantastic...

Also you have to be some kind of Potterologist to know who the fuck the guy at the end of 1967 is, so he's certainly read the things more than, say, I have.
posted by Artw at 7:26 PM on July 29, 2012


you have to be some kind of Potterologist to know who the fuck the guy at the end of 1967 is

Eh. All you have to have done is read the second book to recognize it -- I got it and I'm no Potterologist.
posted by Zed at 10:48 PM on July 29, 2012


/shrug.

Well anyway, you need more familiarity withe the material than I have.
posted by Artw at 12:16 AM on July 30, 2012


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