Tuesday, 23 August 2011

League of Extraordinary Gentlemen 1969

This is a follow on book to League of Extraordinary Gentlemen 1910, in that events that happened in that book are also playing out to a conclusion of sorts in this book. So if you haven’t read the 1910 book it would be advisable to read it first, however in saying that I have read the first book and still had trouble following what was going on in this one, but that could be just me?

The story is set in London at the end of the swinging sixties hence the title 1969, where the dead magician Oliver Haddo is attempting to find a host body that is both suitable and long lasting. So far not too complicated, however when you throw in Haddo’s followers who are attempting to create a Moonchild who could also be the antichrist, add London gangsters, a Rolling Stone type rock band, and the Leagues attempts to stop all of this happening as they travel around London, and you have the plot of the book I think.

To be fair I may be over simplifying the plot to say the least, and I would not want to upset Mr Moore in any way, by being glib on what is truly a fantastic body of work. Just by looking at the book you can see the love of the subject, that the great man obviously has.

However what intrigues me most with this book more so than the previous ones in the series is the cameo appearances that seem to spill out of every page, some you will know some you will miss on your first read through. I would encourage every one who reads this book just to go back and look at the panels to see who you can spot, I have done this several times and I am still finding people.
It is important to note that not all the characters in a panel are there to drive the story forward in any way, I think they have just been put there because the writer or artist wanted to.
Edward Woodwoods Callan is hired by a London gangster who owned a rock star to find out what happened to him (read the book to find out), you are never actually told it is Callen he is called Mr. C. However in a later scene when he meets Lonely for information I took it as him, I have read on other blogs that it could be Carter from The Get Carter movie, or an amalgamation of both characters, I will leave it up for you to decide. Steptoe & son appear in a busy street, The Ruttles are shown on posters, I also spotted Reg from On the buses, along with the carry on gang in a London night club, maybe a reference to Barbara Winsor’s links to London gangsters in her early years, even the Patrick Troughton Doctor pops up along with far too many more to mention.

For any long time followers of the books, there is a references to the 2nd book which featured the War of the Worlds. A Martian tripod is shown rusting away with children using it as a swing, in a later panel a statue of Mr. Hyde with the inscription Henry Edward Jekyll – Edward Hyde 1851 – 1898 Monstrous he died for Mankind is shown.

Well those days are long gone and this League is now reduced to just 3 people, Mina Harker of Dracula fame, Allan Quatermain a Victorian Indiana Jones and Orlando who appears to be multi-gender and has lived for several thousand years if his stories are to be believed. Mina has become almost unrecognisable from the first League of Extraordinary Gentlemen book, and has changed from a repressed Victorian woman, to a modern mini skirted free loving spirit, who is not out of place in this drug taking swinging London of 1969. At one point when trying to extract information from a young woman, she resorts to an interrogation technique (off panel) that would not have been out of place in Tipping the Velvet. So that’s what a bite from Dracula and immortality can do for you, who would have guessed.


         Victorian Mina                                                60's Mina
As usual artist Kevin O’Neill visuals are spot on for the book, and they do give you a feel that this is what the 1960’s could have looked like, I was only 9 at the end of the 60’s so it kind of past me by. Kevin O’Neill is to be congratulated as throughout all this series of books his art has matched the mood of each era perfectly, which includes the jump forward to 1977 at the end of the book. Now I am only presuming here but the jump forward may have been done to lead us into the next installment of the book, which is rumored to be League of Extraordinary Gentlemen 2009, and may well be the last in the series.

On reflection is this book as good as the previous ones personally I don't think so, I found it a little over complicated, and it tied into plot lines from the previous books a bit too much for me.
 I am a big fan of the first two books, but that maybe down to my love of the classic characters from literature, that populates those books.
But having said that I did enjoy the book, and I would recommend it to any one who asked me. The only side bar I would add would be to read the previous books first, so that you get the full flavour of what leads these characters to this point in their lives.

On the whole League of Extraordinary Gentlemen 1969, is a good addition to the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen books.

For anyone who wants to have a total breakdown of the book panel by panel then go to Jeesse Nevins’ annotations, it’s fantastic; I take my hat off to you.

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