Page 45 Review by Stephen
Satirical, century-spanning science-fiction leaving the Victorian era behind increasingly in favour of living memory, the three-part saga is set in 1910, 1969 and 2009.
Another highly inventive collage culled from works of other authors, this time with the added entertainment of songwriters Brecht and Kurt Weill.
Quartermain, Hyde and the Invisible Man are all dead now, whilst Captain Nemo is not much longer for this world. Yet Mina Murray - she of the hickie-hiding scarf or very high collar - remains as vigorous as ever. Infuriated too, mostly by the ineptitude of her new team of sleuths: Allan Quartermain Jr (hmmm
), burglar Raffles, and the immortal if not immutable Orlando who preens himself / herself hilariously throughout, name-dropping like a Timelord:
"Lando, that has to be the most stupid thing you've ever said."
"Oh, I don't know. There was, "Oh look! What a wonderful horse!" That was at Troy."
Lastly there's Tom Carnacki whose disturbing premonitions of impending disaster are what drive this new series. For the seer has twin visions: one of a sect preparing to create a Moonchild or Anti-Christ; the other of Captain Nemo's daughter rejecting her father's inheritance and abandoning him and his Nautilus for foreign climes - which to her means here. Unfortunately as the team concentrate on the former along with what appears to be the return of Jack The Ripper in the form of Mac The Knife, Mina is warned too late by Norton, a man trapped physically in London but free to roam through time, that it's their very investigation that will, in an impetuous raid, precipitate and perhaps exacerbate exactly what they're seeking to avert, setting the scene for 1969.
Meanwhile, they've taken their collective eye fatally off the crystal ball which warned of human heads piled up on the docks outside a London hotel which is exactly where Captain Nemo's daughter Janni has sought employment and attracted a worrying amount of salacious attention from its drooling, drunken patrons. This is where Moore has so cleverly adapted Brecht and Weill's 'Pirate Jenny', recasting the song's victims as culpable rapists thoroughly deserving the wrath and carnage as each verse inevitably builds towards from its initial ominous warning:
"And the ship... the black raider... with a skull on its masthead... moves in from the sea!"
Kevin O'Neill is on magnificent form as ever, particularly during the harrowing 'Pirate Jenny' refrains although you'll also get the big bang for your buck by the end. My favourite, this time, of the many side-references Moore packs in, is the gossip about the Chatterleys!
I can't help you with the rest of the Threepenny Opera, but if you've never heard 'Pirate Jenny' we'll be playing Marc Almond's ivory-hammering 1987 'Melancholy Rose' b-side version in the shop. Just ask us to slap it on next time you're in!
Ravaged by time, the once-mighty League is now down to three members: Mina Murray, preserved by her vampiric bite, Allan Quartermain Jr (look, we do try our best to keep reviews spoiler-free), and the immortal but far from immutable Orlando who is back on the turn and once more growing breasts.
Now they've returned to London in 1969 and immediately set about investigating even though Oliver Haddo supposedly died in Hastings back in 1947. Well, someone did, and it's a scene which Moore and O'Neill play to perfection. Who then is the mysterious Charles Felton courting vain and gullible pop star Terner of The Purple Orchestra whose front man, Basil Thomas, was drowned in his swimming pool by robed monks in front of his pilled-up boyfriend called Wolfe Lovejoy?
It's a special Same-Sex, Drugs & Rock'n'Roll edition of THE LEAGUE OF EXTRAORDINARY GENTLEMEN, as the once-prudish Mina strives to stay hip to the times but finds she's not as au fait as she thinks. Indeed, this second part climaxes in a stunningly bad acid trip by the Edward Hyde memorial statue surrounded by the art and artefacts of the day from Spacehoppers and Daleks to Tony the Tiger, after which Mina's fate will genuinely shock you.
The title has always been a collage of borrowed fiction so none of London shops, clubs or inhabitants shown here have ever existed save in books, films, television programmes and songs. Half the fun is spotting what Moore has appropriated and where from, especially now that as the years progress the variety of media Moore can choose from expands. Michael Caine's Jack Carter plays a pivotal role in tracking down Basil's murderers, and although 'Get Carter' didn't actually appear at the cinema until 1970, cleverly he has yet to head north on that family business in Newcastle. I'll leave the rest of you to puzzle over yourselves, but I was particularly tickled to see Parker, Lady Penelope's chauffeur from Thunderbirds, as a petrol pump attendant.
In which the identity of the Moonchild is finally revealed.