Reviewed by Mike Chinn
And so we reach the present day â€“ well, almost. The surviving trio of the original league are beyond fractured: Allan Quartermain freaked out years ago and disappeared; Orlando fighting (in male form) in the Middle East; Mina incarcerated in an asylum. Worse, Oliver Haddoâ€™s Antichrist â€“ a Moonchild often spoken of by Aleister Crowley â€“ is not only created, but grown to near adulthood. Itâ€™s not until Orlando returns to London and female form, getting an unwelcome visit from Prospero (like the one in The Tempest â€“ but scarier) in the process, that she is kicked into tracking everyone down, finding the Antichrist and preventing the Apocalypse.
One thing noticeable about this volume over all previous League books is the dearth of literary characters. Almost every visual gag and in-joke is a reference to films or TV; which either reflects the dismal state of the modern literary world, or Mooreâ€™s making a point. The British secret service has to keep replacing a certain iconic agent with a younger version; UNIT and a Cardiff-based operation are referenced; a couple of decades-apart incarnations of the Doctor; Minder…Â The comic 2000AD is one of the few printed works to get a nod; if I mentioned the others, it would amount to spoilers. But the identity of the Moonchild should make you smile â€“ even if it is telegraphed just over halfway through. And as for God…
Which brings me to one of my biggest gripes: never mind that Moore trawls back a hundred years or so for his ultimate being â€“ I can live with that, even though previously characters have been contemporaneous with any particular volumeâ€™s period. Itâ€™s that we really do have a huge dose of deus ex machina â€“ and thatâ€™s always a bit of a cheat. The heroes should be the ones to save the world, not just set it up so that a superior creature can pop along and fix everything with a wave of the hand (okay â€“ so perhaps not everything…). On top of that, the book doesnâ€™t feel as densely-layered and rich as previous ones; consequently, not as satisfying.
Even though the last page has the line, End of Volume Three, suggesting there might be a fourth â€“ not to mention a panel which uncomfortably echoes the final shot of the awful film version â€“ thereâ€™s a sense that the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Century saga has run out of steam; if not its course. If Moore and Oâ€™Neill plan more volumes, Iâ€™m wondering just where they can go.
And having said all that, I know Iâ€™ll still follow.