Sunday, 27 April 2014

The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: Nemo: Roses of Berlin Review (Alan Moore, Kevin O'Neill)


I should’ve stopped after the first page which warned me this book was another episode in Alan Moore’s Journey Up His Own Backside because the first page is written entirely in German. Untranslated German. And not just the odd word like “ja” or “guten tag”, but packed panels of dialogue which non-German readers - ie. most people picking up this ENGLISH version of the book - won’t be able read unless they pull out their English/German dictionaries or type all the dialogue into Google Translate - none of which I did because why should I? That’s not isolated to the opening page either, several pages throughout this brief book have lots of untranslated German dialogue. 

So it’s 1941 and Janni’s 15 year old daughter’s blimp has been shot down over Germany and she and her husband (who, by the way, looks to be in his late 30s) have been taken prisoner. Janni and her husband journey deep into the underground heart of the weirdly mechanised German regime to rescue them. 

I’ve read all three parts of the Nemo series and have to wonder what the point of it all is. Book 1 - Janni leaves her dad to work in a brothel, then decides to burn half of London; Book 2 - Janni goes to Antarctica where Moore writes a terrible parody of HP Lovecraft’s At the Mountains of Madness; Book 3 - Moore gets Kevin O’Neill to draw boobs amidst lots of imagery taken from Fritz Lang’s Metropolis. Why? And why is the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen still continuing with a character who wasn’t even in the League?! 

Janni’s not a particularly interesting character - she’s monotone, competent, and more-or-less personality free. Her story has been unnecessary and, for the most part, unimaginative. All Moore seems to be doing is referencing other, better works of art in his increasingly pointless comics, but so what - who reads a book for the references over the story? This entire book - which, at roughly 50 pages, is more of an extended single issue than a book - is a straightforward action montage of characters firing guns or sword-fighting with explosions going on in the background. That’s it?! 

I read this because, as some of you may know, Moore is a very vocal critic of contemporary comics and I wanted to see what his comics were like - you know, see how to do comics “right”. And what did I read? Contrived scenes with forgettable action, trite dialogue (those that I could read that is), stiff, two-dimensional characters, and an unengaging, paper-thin “story”. 

Alan, I think you need to start taking a look at your own work before you blanket-assess the rest of the comics world with your uninformed, derogatory opinions.

Nemo: Roses of Berlin:

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