Wednesday, December 14, 2011

My favorite bits from League of Extraordinary Gentlemen (Vol III): Century #2 - 1969

And by "bits," I don't mean all the boobies and wieners on display. Although there are a lot of those this time out. It's the Swinging 60s and our fab heroes Mina, Allan and Orlando are back in London to tune in, turn on and occasionally have sex with multiple partners across the gender universe.  Which is only natural, the 60s being the time of Free Love, and especially with Orlando spending the story slowly transforming into a woman.  Mina even adopts youthful slang and Mary Quant-type mini-dress fashions in an effort to stay relevant.  It's definitely a tour de force for Alan Moore and Kevin O'Neill this time out-- a regular kandy-kolored tangerine-flake streamline baby.

An electric kool-aid acid test of a comic, if you prefer.

I've been on board with this series from the start. It really tickles the former literature student in me. I consider myself well-read, but obviously Alan Moore has me beat, because there's no way I can keep up with every single reference and cameo appearance. I don't think it's important that I-- or any reader-- do. It's enough to follow the immediate story and later, if you're curious, find one of those websites where they've annotated every player, background element or in-joke. This time out I really felt on top of my game because every page was an experience where I'd go, "Ah ha! That's based on Brian Jones's drowning death, he's Mick Jagger's character from Performance, and there's everyone's favorite drunken spouse-abuser Andy Capp! And that guy is Michael Caine from Get Carter.  And look, it's Sean Connery threatening Roger Moore with a golf club for some reason!"

Okay, it's now obvious my frame of reference tends more towards pop ephemera, comic strips, cinema and music than literature, despite my having a worthless piece of paper from a university that says I read more Melville, Shakespeare and Chaucer while drunk than most do sober. I'm just very attuned to the 1960s, which I tend to think of as a very British time-- what with all those Mersey beat bands and bowler-hatted spies running around at the time. Twiggy and Ray Davies and The Who wearing the latest in mod fashion, spending more on clothes and replacing smashed instruments than they earned.

This is the first issue of League where I've felt very much at home, up to and including the punk scene post-script (where the lower eyelashes on some of the characters make O'Neill's art strangely echo Mort Drucker's). What really made me laugh, though, was the silly "Jumping Jack Flash" joke, and the shout-out to one of my oldest brother's favorite movies, the 1968 generation gap sci-fi thriller Wild in the Streets.

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