The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen:
Vol. III: Chapter I: Century 1910

by Alan Moore, Kevin O'Neill (Top Shelf, 2009)

Century 1910 is the first installment of the third volume of Alan Moore's ongoing series. Three originals League members from the first two volumes -- Mina Harker, Allan Quartermain and Orlando -- are in Edwardian London to try and defeat a long-plotted Satanic cult's plan to unleash the apocalypse.

Considering that this story is the first in a three-part series, it's perhaps understandably light on plot; unfortunately, it's also light on characterization, intrigue and understandable references. From characters to events, Moore packs so many references into these pages that the narrative sinks under the weight, crowding out any chance to get to know characters that should be more interesting.

A seer named Carnacki is picking up some very nasty rumblings from the future. An apocalypse is being orchestrated by a cult that is trying to bring about the creation of a Moonchild, a Damien-from-The Omen kind of scion of Satan. The League, still members of the British secret police, tries to sort out clues from the incredibly vague bits and pieces of Carnacki's vision. As all this is happening, Janni Nemo, the daughter of Captain Nemo, has argued with her father about taking over the family business. She leaves to make her way in the real world, working as a server in a dockside pub. In the background, Jack the Ripper, aka Jack MacHeath, is back in the news and under investigation by the League, all while they are trying to fend off Armageddon.

These plot strands weave together in a story that culminates in an explosion that sets the stage for the next installments.

In spite of the literary mash-ups and the dense historical and artistic references, the story quickly gets lost. The dense narrative is not fleshed out in a way that encourages emotional investment in either the characters or the story. The pace is further slowed by too many parallel visions and disparate storylines that constantly vector the plot and unnecessary, very cliched graphic violence.

O'Neill's art saves the story just enough to keep it interesting, if only visually so. Moore has created a vast, boundary-pushing territory, peopled with characters that have in the past been quite captivating; that alone is promise enough for the future issues.

review by
Mary Harvey

19 September 2015

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