This afternoon, I was chatting with a friend about her tattoo appointment. She’s planning on getting the Nautilus as drawn by Kevin O’Neill across her ribs (yay for comic book tattoos). I realized that I have yet to write my own review of the latest League of Extraordinary Gentlemen graphic novel, Century 1910. You already have Troy‘s, but I have some other comments.
This League is a tease more than a complete story–it introduces new characters, heroes (Orlando, Raffles, and Carnacki, as well as “Jenny Diver,” the daughter of Captain Nemo) and villains, and builds to a surprising climax, but it leaves you panting for the next volume, rather the way the first one did.
The character of Janni/Jenny is really the backbone of the story, though she has little to say. Her story relies instead on O’Neill’s storytelling skills, and they’re certainly up to the challenge. Janni flees her father but cannot escape his legacy. The story is familiar, except normally it’s a son trying to avoid having to live up to his father, rather than a daughter fed up at her father’s wishes for a male successor. Janni’s final turn comes not really as a surprise, but still a thrill. For her, embracing her father’s legacy is less a surrender than a realization that she can do that on her own terms.
Orlando, Raffles and Carnacki may not be as flashy as Hyde and the Invisible Man, but they provide different opportunites for Alan Moore. This is less a book about monsters, as the first two were, and more a book about literature. As Troy notes, it reaches out into music and magic as well. But it was always telling that the main character, the one responsible for pulling together the original League, was a human woman who survived the attack of a monster rather than the monster himself.
Mina Murray remains stiff and proper on the outside, but apparently a bit more liberated in the bedroom. She is, as always, the brains and the wrangler of the operation, the one everyone gripes about and the one they can’t function without. And at the end of this book, while all the other characters are fighting, Mina’s best weapon is still her self-possession, her calm confidence while everything else is falling apart.
The book may be titled “League of Extraordinary Gentlemen,” and my friend may have referred to the first League as the manliest book on her shelf, but for me, the best parts of this new League are the extraordinary women. I can’t wait for more.