Originally Posted by The Rain Dog
Ive only read the first two Leagues but frikkin adore them, I'll be interested in what you think
I own the first three Leagues in hardcover (I, II and Black Dossier), and then all of Volume III as trade paperbacks (they're not out in hardcover yet). I am a massive League enthusiast, and I have a huge soft spot for this series, but even I have to say in the end I maybe was a bit let down by Century.
Maybe if I'd read it all in one go it would have felt like a more substantive adventure, but as it is, despite the narrative spanning a century and almost 200 pages, it feels.. slight. Each of the volumes never really comes together as a moving story in it's own right. They're still a blast, and there are great moments and it's fun visiting our characters as their bizarre odyssey marches into the 20th century, but it just didn't satisfy me the way, say, League II or even Black Dossier did.
As always, I got a crazy level of enjoyment out of the references in 2009, made all the more fun because for the first time I'm pretty certain I got more than 50% of them on the first go round. Some of them are just sly and delightful, others funny and, on the final page, deeply poignant (/ ridiculous) . 2009 felt like more of a complete adventure than did 1910, but in the end I think you're going to have a better experience if you read the Century books back to back, without the massive delays in between which resulted from their publication dates.
Oh well, while this may be the last official 'League' book, we still have Nemo: Heart of Ice coming up. The League rides again! (date TBA, natch)
Here is a brief review I wrote of 1969 for another thread. It gives you a more detailed impression of my thoughts on Century:
That was an excellent review, Prankster. I have to say I'm still getting an enormous level of enjoyment from the series, but I've felt frustrated at times with the lack of depth to the Century books. While the 'story', such as it is, no longer seems to engage me emotionally most of the time (for whatever reason, much of the Janni Nemo material in 1910 fell flat with me, the entire book seemed a bit rushed story-wise), I find Moore's metatextual masterpiece as delightful as ever. The whole thing is becoming increasingly outlandish, a house of cards that threatens to collapse in on itself with every turn of the page, and yet he's still stitching ever more varied fictions into his great patchwork universe. It's his grand unified theory of imagination, and I find it impossible not to get a kick out of seeing a post war Europe menaced by the memory of Adenoid Hynkel, or having our heroes saved from a callow, villainous James Bond by the sudden appearance of a noble Galley-Wag ("Bread and tits, m'lady!").
As far as the characters go, I find Mina and Allan's psycho-sexual odyssey in the wake of having gained immortality at the Ugandan pool to be fairly fertile material to explore. Their feeling of timelessness, of being old yet perpetually young, strikes a cord with me, and that would be the character building aspect of the later books I've most enjoyed. You're right that in many ways they're very different characters than the people that we met in the first volume, but then again, they've been on such a remarkable, dare I say it, Extraordinary journey, that it makes perfect sense they'd find themselves changed by their experiences.
One thing that has bothered me a bit in Century is the Prisoner of London seemingly having knowledge of the 'real world'. In 1910 I found it pretty funny, when he's asked about Haddo and references Crowley, prompting Mina to exclaim "I had NO idea what he was talking about... for the first time in my life, I feel stupid...". Usually this is my reaction to whatever confusion I might encounter with the more obscure literary references in LXG, and it amused me to see the tables turned on Mina with her ignorance of life outside fiction. In 1969 though, when the Prisoner returns and he's going on about Wells, the Martian Invasion, and then states that he "enjoyed that second volume of yours"... Eh, it took me out of the story. For whatever reason I'm OK with a character who shows up and makes reference to real life future events like 7/7, but when he starts talking to the characters of LXG about the various published volumes of their own adventures... it felt like the unity of Moore's world was being compromised.
I think my big complaint with these century books is that they're being released as if they were stand alone volumes, put out more than a year apart, when I think much of the effect is lost without having them all collected together to go through at once. The setting and story were interesting this time out, but before things had even gotten going they were already being wrapped up. I think the 60s as envisioned by Moore (like pre war Europe before it in 1910) was ripe for further exploration than we get in these 80 odd pages. It's all very surface and brisk, when I feel like the story and characters at that point in time were owed a more in depth look. The acid trip, while fun, also felt like a poor man's version of the kind of creative paneling seen in Promethea. I love Kevin O'Neil, but it wasn't his strongest moment. As it is, I liked it, there was some interesting art, and I just wish there was more 'there' there. The Tom Riddle reference went over my head, but now that I'm aware of it I think it's great. I'm wondering if we'll actually get any Harry Potter next time out though. It seems like a copyright minefield, and there's no way they could make him a major character. At best he'd be referenced off hand.
As a final note, I found the epilogue (set in 1976) to be pretty heartbreaking. The League has never been worse off. Even during the Big Brother years at least Allan and Mina were in it together. All I can think is that Allan better hope the Ugandan immortality pool's effects will shield him from AIDS if he intends to piss his life away with IV drug use in the late 70s. Yikes.
I guess we'll find out how things wrap up next month in League of Extraordinary Gentlemen Volume III Century 2009! Moore has stated that the book will feature Orlando returning to England from the ongoing war in the West Wing's fictional nation of Qumar, and that we'll see posters for a Vincent Chase movie in the background of one panel. It would hard for me to be more excited than I am right now.