decept_o's The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: Century #1 - 1910: What Keeps Mankind Alive? review

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Take a turn at the turn of the 20th Century with the League

This is the new installment in the series involving the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen.  Needless to say, there is little ordinary about this title, to say the least. 

First, I have to delve into the negative points. 

When reading a comic, and this case, it's a graphic novella, I always try to do it from the perspective of a new reader and ask myself, "Will the new reader be able to follow what is going on?  Will the new reader be interested enough to follow with any subsequent issues?" 

Here's the bugger of the situation.  It is almost necessary for the new reader to be somewhat familiar with the past League of Extraordinary Gentlemen issues.  Not 100% required, mind you, but it would be advantageous. 

This is due to the fact the nature of the book and the universe which Alan Moore has this story placed.  It isn't necessarily a bad thing, but if I had picked this up without knowing about any of the past series, I'd probably be at a loss.  So this gets a negative rating in that regard. 

Also, this is a bit of a new format.  The price, which totals up to about $8.00 give or take a few cents, depending where you live, can be a drawback.  It's questionable if a new reader would be willing to plunk down that type of dough on a title which  they are unfamiliar.

Again, a bit of a negative rating, but not overtly so, because quite frankly, despite the price and new format, I like the idea.  This from someone who is financially challenged.

A lot of people were only exposed to the League of Ex. Gentlemen via the not so well liked movie of the same name.  The movie had little, if anything, to do with the comic book series, so please understand this tilte is far more graphic, violent, and adult than the movie.  The previous installment of the series, unlike the movie, was a righteous romp and I enjoyed it. 

To recap, if you don't know the nature of League, if you're hesitant to spend the money, then it'd be best not to pick this up, unless you are really interested in the series and/or if you're a fan of Alan Mooe and Kevin O'Neill. 

HOWEVER, if you are familiar with the League via the previous books and you liked them,  I can assure you Moore and Kevin O'Neill return to form. 

It is hard for me to review this title without spoilers, but I will manage, so bare with me.

Familiar faces return, primarily that of Mina Harker and Allan Quartermain (Jr.), Mycroft Holmes.  Nemo does return,  and the best part of this book involved Nemo and hs daughter, Jenni, who is later referred to as Jenny, but that you will find out why when you read the book.  Nemo's daughter does some interesting things in this title, and you'll be quite surprised. 

Also, there is Orlando, the "hermaphrodite" eternal/immortal warrior, whose gender switches, and who claims to have been around a long, long time,...(cue the Rolling Stones).....along with Tom Carnacki whose dreams are portents of things to come, and which involve the possible end of the world, the occult, and a serial murderer.  Also involved with the team is A.J. the professional thief. 

There are some bits about this one that some readers will probably find annoying, such as the singing of the narrating Madam and the serial murderer, "Mac the Knife".  It seemed like something of a whimsy for Moore to have injected, and quite frankly, it grated on my nerves, because it seemed out of place.  I don't know, perhaps Moore had watched Sweeney Todd before writing this one.  It was also a bit much to follow all the occult names and characters. 

If you could read past that, you will find some interesting bits, such as the "arrangement" between Allan Quartermain, Jr., Mina Harker, and Orlando. 

Lastly, keep an eye out for the background in the panels, certain literary and even cartoon characters pop up.  Some definite "easter eggs" to make you chuckle.  It's what Moore did with Top 10, having certain other comic book characters make cameos in the background, along with movie actors, musicians, etc.  The same thing abounds here. 

There is also Norton, the "Prisoner of London", who shows up, literally, at various times throughout the story, and it's a bit of a subplot twist I rather liked. 

All in all, if you've read the previous League books or have knowledge concerning the series, I DO encourage you to spend the money on this one. 

If you are unfamiliar, I also encourage you to either find back issues, or read reviews or otherwise glean as much info somehow pertaining the first series, because it will help you follow and appreciate this new story. 

As always, I cannot emphasize enough how PERFECTLY Kevin O'Neill's illustrations suit this title.  It's beyond comic book illustrating.  He is so adept at drawing styistically and in rendering the human form in a realistic yet ethereal way, it is just too hard to describe. 

There is plenty of violence, bloodshed, and nudity, so it is a Mature Book, although the one I bought was sitting alongside the regular super hero titles without any notice.  Just so you know what to expect. 

This would receive a higher rating from me, but due to the fact the book is set within a universe that almost requires the new reader to pick up back issues in order to follow what is currently happening.  Also, the format and the price can put a lot of potential readers off. 

However, and I repeat, this book is worth the buy if you've read the past issues of the series and you'll want to re-read it, and that is a compliment, indeed. 

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