The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen Volume III: Century #1 1910 (Anglais) Broché – 19 mai 2009
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J'ai beaucoup aimé ce tome de la League of Extraordinary Gentlemen (LoEG), malgré ses particularités qui le mettent encore plus à part que les tomes précédents. Il faut déjà avoir conscience qu'il s'agit du premier épisode de la trilogie baptisée Century. Le deuxième épisode se passera en 1969 et le troisième en 2009. Ensuite il faut accepter qu'Alan Moore dirige sa barque à son bon vouloir et non pas à celui de ses lecteurs.
Pour commencer, il a indiqué dans un interview que le fait d'avoir changé d'éditeur lui a permis de se libérer de la construction habituelle des comics d'aventures. Donc ne vous attendez pas à des hauts faits de la part des membres de la LoEG : ils pataugent du début à la fin sans rien comprendre à ce qui se trame.Lire la suite ›
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Moore said he wanted this to function both as part one of three and as a story in its own right, hence the decision to abandon the more traditional 22-page single-issue format of previous installments in favour of larger bundles. In that sense, he has succeeded. "1910" has both an internal narrative arc and an ending that augurs future plot developments. On the question of how compelling this story is by itself, I would say reasonably so, moreso than either "The Black Dossier" or "League v.2", though many of my problems with this property remain.
As alluded to in "The Black Dossier", this story picks up in 1910, with the League consisting of old standbys Mina Murray (not yet a blonde), Allan Quatermain ("Junior"), Thomas Carnacki (from W. H. Hodgson's "The Casebook of Carnacki the Ghost Finder", originally serialized in "The Strand"), A. J. Raffles (another magazine serial character, created by Arthur Conan Doyle's brother-in-law, E. W. Hornung), and a male Orlando (Virginia Woolf's novel of the same name; a major figure in "The Black Dossier"). The reign of Edward VII has ended, and the inauguration of George V is impending, with the Great War that will bring to a definitive end this period in world history whispering on the horizon. Our crew is following Carnacki's premonitory dreams which involve the moon-child cult of Oliver Haddo (Aleister Crowley's "Moonchild") and the return to town of Jack MacHeath. Meanwhile, in a separate plot, Janni, the daughter of Captain Nemo, arrives in London hoping to escape her father's wish for her to succeed him.
Sexual perversion and violence against women has been a recurring theme in Moore's work (in his early classic, "Watchmen"), and repeatedly throughout the "League" books Moore seems to be depicting the nature of Victorian society (he did something similar in "From Hell", which also featured Jack the Ripper, though in a very different light to how he's shown here). Moore has taken some criticism for his use of rape as a plot device in the past, so those critics will find more to criticize here, as the poor Janni, violated by some wharfside scum, summons her father's men to wreak deadly vengeance on the waterfront before assuming her father's identity as Nemo. It's certainly not an act portrayed lightly, of course (and never was in his work), but as a plot element it can perhaps get a bit tiresome. Moore has already done many stories about how, as he ends here, human civilization runs on "monstrous deeds".
From a narrative perspective, this story repeats some of the problems I had with earlier iterations of this group: the main characters don't do or accomplish much in the course of the story, there's little character development (only, really, in Janni's case, and that's a fairly standard story that Moore doesn't add anything new to here), or any of the things that make Moore's best work special. The most notable feature is probably Moore's extensive use of written music, as both MacHeath and a seaside madame named Suki spend more or less all their screentime 'singing' (which comes across to the reader as rhymed narration or monologues). This is a unique use of the comic book format that I'm not sure would really work in a visual medium, given the time that passes between panels of the song. As with Moore's "From Hell", there's a great deal of criticism of Britain's class structure here, and the hypocrisy of the upper class of this era. Kevin O'Neill's art is customarily good.
This is probably the best whole installment of the "League" franchise since the original volume in 1999. All the same, I cannot escape the feeling that there are more interesting things Moore could be doing with his time.
The first in a trilogy, CENTURY: 1910 sees an modified League, consisting of Mina Murray, Allan Quatermain (Masquerading as his own son, thanks to his newly immortal condition, as seen in THE LEAGUE OF EXTRAORDINARY GENTLEMEN: THE BLACK DOSSIER), Carnacki, Raffles, and Orlando, dispatched by Mycroft Holmes to prevent the apocalyptic vision received by Carnacki from becoming a reality. To say more about the story would do potential readers a disservice. (I will say that the story involves Captain Nemo and his equally hardcase Daughter Janni, the Ripper murders, Aleister Crowley, and Bertolt Brecht and Kurt Weill's musical THE THREEPENNY OPERA. An odd, but pleasing, mixture.)
The misgivings I had at the end of Volume II of LOEG still hold true, to an extent: Without the depraved personalities of Hyde, Griffin, and Nemo, the remaining members of The League are less than interesting. Mina and Allan are as boring as ever, and Raffles and Carnacki are not much better. Only Orlando delivers even a fraction of the personality that's been missing since Hyde and Griffin exited Moore's grand stage. However, the "new" characters (New to More's playground, at least- Jenny Diver, Jack MacHeath, Suki Tawdry, Oliver Haddo, and Norton, the "Prisoner of London") make for some interesting moments, and O'Neill's art is as grotesquely lovely and detailed as ever. The League itself, as always, is more of a group of passive observers than active participants- They seem very ineffective for such a highly-regarded team. However, I enjoyed the book immensely, and I wish there wasn't going to be the inevitable years-long wait before the next chapter. (Just as an aside, Moore, as usual, doesn't completely play fair with the reader, having a very important section of the book, Nemo's dialogue with his daughter, written in a completely untranslated foreign language. Jess Nevin's annotations for CENTURY: 1910 provide a complete translation, as well as invaluable background information that make the reading experience much more pleasurable for people who are not steeped in Victorian literature. The annotations for CENTURY:1910 are easily found online through a Google search, and are well worth hunting down.)
It's competently done, of course. The art and presentation and every character's actions feel so natural and put together with such effortless mastery that you know from the first few pages that you're reading Moore. There's coloring that adds to the atmosphere of the scenes, lots of visual allusions to other works, all that stuff. The only problem is that as it goes on, this work becomes more about the references to fiction you might not have engaged with, and less about the central characters and story. I understand the charm of having every person, place and thing be part of this overworld of combined un-reality. The trouble is that the central plot for this (and all the "Century" books) is a little thin, and if you're not into Alistair Crowley and Moore's ideas about the collective unconscious, it'll make you roll your eyes. I don't follow the central conflict of these stories. From the first, the aim of the antagonists is vague and they don't have the substance of those from earlier in the series.
It also indulges in something that's interesting to see attempted but hardly ever fulfilling, namely music in comics - I like reading lyrics, but can you really get into a musical you don't hear? As cleverly as it's implemented (especially in one dark, alley-treading scene of murder that's at once reminiscent of and an inversion of Alan Moore's other graphic novel "From Hell"), I don't feel like the comic is better for having had it than more pages of direct story.
I mean, all right, if anyone was going to make a 1910-set story about stories colliding set to the score of "The Threepenny Opera" and centered around the prophesied magical baby from "The Moonchild," then this is the best they could possibly do it. O'Neill's a goddamn master at putting details in every panel, Moore's operating on a different level from even other giant talents like Ellis and Morrison, them working together is always going to produce something stunning. It IS stunning. But unlike volumes one and two, and even Black Dossier, this doesn't feel vital. It's just a spot of fun, no matter how well put-together it is, and if there is a deeper charm to it, then it eludes me.
If you want to get into the work of these creators, this is not the place to begin. Chances are that if you're a committed Leaguer, you'll already know it by this point and want to continue on with the series, but if you've felt doubt before now, try switching over to one of Alan Moore's other extraordinary works. Hell, even his run on WildC.A.T.S. feels like it has more thematic weight to it at times.