First a warning: The latest comic book from Alan Moore and Kevin O’Neill is definitely not for children. Unless you consider a story featuring an antichrist Harry Potter who keeps his wand hidden in his pants to be kiddie fare. And if you do, I’ll see you in family therapy.
Welcome back The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. The yarn that begun in the late Victorian era, has now reached 2009. Like its predecessors it is part Lovecraftian horrorshow, part pop-cultural Where’s Wally.
Take a close look at the picture above. You’ll see a ruined Hogwarts, the rotting shells of engines Thomas and Ivor and a scarecrow with an umbrella sticking out of his back (any idea?) Elsewhere in ths volume are cameos from Doctor Who (and Torchwood), references to Dan Dare’s enemies the Treens and a brief appearance of Rupert the Bear. Rupert previously appeared in Volume 2 alongside a group of characters from the golden age of children’s fiction, had they been the genetically altered creations of HG Wells’ Doctor Moreau.
There’s a slightly grumpy, ‘modern life is rubbish’ tone to the whole book, which would be a little tiresome if it wan’t executed with such anarchic verve. The climactic meeting with the boy wizard/ anti-christ could even be read as a bash at JK Rowling’s creation. It had previously occured to me that the runaway popularity of Harry Potter had made him not the saviour, but the suppressor of children’s literature, stifling all else during his lengthy reign of terror.
Though, as with everything in this scurrilous comic, it doesn’t pay to read too much into the meaning behind the rollicking satire. Just go with it, and you’ll happily accept that God would take on the form of a vengeful Mary Poppins.