League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, The: Century #1 (1910)

Alan Moore extends the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen into the 20th Century

If Black Dossier had you fearing that Alan Moore and Kevin O’Neill’s League of Extraordinary Gentlemen might be coming off the boil, Century: 1910 will set your mind at ease.

The first of three books spanning the fictional agents’ adventures in the 20th century – though Black Dossier falls into this camp too, of course – the book tracks immortals Mina Harker, Orlando and Alan Quartermaine, alongside newer additions to the team – gentleman thief Arthur Raffles and ghost hunter Thomas Carnacki. Following a clue divined from Carnacki’s nightmares, the team splits up to track down the source of a potential catastrophy, that seems to imply that the impending creation of a Moon Child by a group of King’s Cross cultists may be about to bring disaster on the world.

It’s also time to say goodbye to Nemo, as we see him on his deathbed, and hello to his daughter. Janni is a reluctant heir to Nemo’s submersible legacy, but her destiny seems to be shaping up to get the better of her.

We see a lot of Moore’s favourite themes cropping up here, from sexual violence to apocalyptic retribution; underground magicians to musical soothsayers. While the action is pedestrian, at least until the finale approaches, it deals with the characters in some depth. It’s this ability to fine-tune the nuances of a personality and make that as gripping as any action sequence that defines Moore’s great skill as a writer.

O’Neill’s art is sublime. From his grotty London docks to a debauched English country manor, his scenery is authentically rendered, devoid of romantic embellishment. The characters follow the same lead – their bodies look lived-in, while their eyes hold the dark secrets of early 20th century life.

It’s a wonderful opening salvo for this trilogy of books that leaves us anticipating a lot from the next volumes. The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen is back on course.

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