Showing posts with label Alan Moore. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Alan Moore. Show all posts

Saturday, March 3, 2018

Promethea by Alan Moore, JH Williams

Rating: WARTY!

This is a graphic novel I picked up from the library because it looked interesting. It's the fifth and final issue in the Apocalyptic series (this compendium collects individual issues 26 - 32), which I knew up front, so I have only myself to blame for this mistake! I have not read any of the other four and I'm actually pleased I missed them because this novel sucked majorly.

The story is about some powerful goddess coming back angrily and determined to destroy Earth, although she does a really poor job of it because she actually improves things, This part was interesting because she changed the flat, solid color 2D images into something a lot more realistic: 3D-looking subtly-shaded views of scenery and people, Some images were simply photographs which had been 'cartoonised'. None of that could make a really confused, boring, and meaningless story come to life though.

As one reviewer amusing put it, it looks like Moore finished up the last section on acid, but to me it seemed more like the artist was the one doing the drugs. The artwork was a mess of pastel psychedelia, and the text was in white and some other colors and impossible to read against the heliotrope background. I honestly didn't even try. I'd been ready to give up on this many pages before this last section, and it was the perfect excuse to simply drop it. Not literally, since it was a library book, but I truly did wish I could have dropped it right into the recycling. Cardboard coffee cup holders would have been a better use of these poor trees than this was. What a bloated, self-indulgent, self-absorbed exercise in masturbation it truly was! Don't miss it! Avoid it like the plague.

Saturday, October 10, 2015

The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen 2009 by Alan Moore

Rating: WARTY!

Having enjoyed the movie derived from this graphic novel series, I was curious to see what the actual novel looked like (the movie bore little resemblance to the novels), and the library happened to have three volumes: 1910, 1969, and 2009, so I picked all of those up. The original series, began in 1999, had twelve issues, so I'm not sure how these relate to that. Wikipedia was unusually vague about how the issues were published and named, and how they related to one another.

In the end this one turned out to be worse than the 1969 edition was! There was no story here other than some oddball guy covered in eyes and one of the league members being in hospital for forty years treated as mentally incompetent, and another dropping out and becoming little more than a street beggar. Story? We don’t need no stinkin’ story, we got pretty graphics. Well no, you don't even have pretty graphics, and if you did, you'd still need an actual story. I cannot recommend this. I've decided that Moore is less after reading these three volumes.

The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen 1969 by Alan Moore

Rating: WARTY!

Having enjoyed the movie derived from the first in this graphic novel series, I was curious to see what the actual novel looked like (the movie bore little resemblance to the novels), and the library happened to have three volumes: 1910, 1969, and 2009, so I picked all of those up. The original series, began in 1999, had twelve issues, so I'm not sure how these relate to that. Wikipedia was unusually vague about how the issues were published and named, and how they related to one another.

This particular volume, 1969, was presented as a slightly psychedelic 'summer of love' edition, but it really wasn't very good in terms of telling a strong and coherent story. The basic plot was that there's this dude who has found a way to transfer his essence (however you want to picture that) from his old body into a different, younger body. The younger body's essence is swapped into the old body, and in the example we're shown, the old body quickly dies because it has been poisoned for the very purpose for preventing the transferred younger essence from making itself known. This struck me as gobbledy-gook, but let's just take that and run with it.

The problem with this scheme is that the original transfer was from a very aged man into a younger man, but later this younger man, who is now older, but still looks hale and hearty, is planning on transferring his essence again into a rock star. That didn't strike me as a wise choice! And why he's so desperate to transfer at that point into this person isn't made clear. The worst problem, however, is that there is nothing to indicate what kind of a threat this guy posed. His entire story consisted of his desire to transfer his essence! So what? Who cares? He;s doing nothing - other than the criminal theft of a person's body! It's horrible for the person concerned of course, but it's hardly a world-shattering event!

Many of the characters I knew from the movie were alive and well in the 1969 edition, and working independently of the British government now. They had a rather amateurish 'secret hide-away' not very well hidden behind an electrical utility door down a dark alley. The problem with that was that the space inside was huge and really brightly lit, so anyone passing as they entered would have seen this and known something was seriously wrong with this picture. Alan Moore's story-telling was limp, and Kevin O'Neill's artwork was tame, so I wasn't impressed there either.

There was a lot of reference to British pop culture (from the era) and to Monty Python, such as Doug Piranha, and The Rutles (which was an Eric Idle spin-off). There were also references to the early Doctor Who long-running sci-fi show, in the form of a very fleeting cameo by Patrick Troughton, who played the second Doctor. I saw no other incarnations of the Doctor (at least none that were readily detectable to me!), but there was a Dalek which showed up in one psychedelic double page spread.

Whether the US audience will get the rest of the references that I caught, I can't say. They were peculiarly British. There was one frame featuring Simon Templar's Volvo 1800, from the TV show The Saint starring Roger Moore, which US audiences might get, but that's about it. There was a main character modeled on Michael Caine from his appearance in the original Get Carter movie, which was tame, but better than the Stallone remake. There was an appearance by Lonely, a character from the Edward Woodward TV spy show Callan.

There was Parker, the butler from the TV puppet show Thunderbirds, which to me was amusing, because the characters portrayed in the graphic novel seemed to me to be often posed unnaturally, as though they were marionettes from one or other of the Gerry Anderson shows. There was also a couple of frames featuring the venerable British tabloid cartoon icon Andy Capp. These were fun to spot, but contributed nothing to the value of the story, and that was the problem. Overall, I have to say that this was not a worthy read, because there really was no story there.

The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen 1910 by Alan Moore

Rating: WARTHY!

Having enjoyed the movie derived from the first in this graphic novel series, I was curious to see what the actual novel looked like (the movie bore little resemblance to the novels), and the library happened to have three volumes: 1910, 1969, and 2009, so I picked all of those up. The original series, began in 1999, had twelve issues, so I'm not sure how these relate to that. Wikipedia was unusually vague about how the issues were published and named, and how they related to one another.

The beginning of this story is a direct rip-off of a song from the Elisabeth Hauptmann and Kurt Weill opera Die Dreigroschenoper produced first in 1928 and based on John Gay's The Beggar's Opera first produced exactly 200 years earlier. The song was Mackie Messer, translated into English as the better known name of Mack the Knife. The music was by Kurt Weill and lyrics by none other than Bertolt Brecht. The song became very popular after Bobby Darin released a version of it in 1959.

The song (and the opera itself) is in many ways a precursor to gangsta rap and was radical, especially for its time. It satirized the British government, depicting them as no better than the thieves and con-artists they sought to apprehend and jail. John Gay's original was rooted in real life 18th century people. Jack Sheppard was somewhat of a Robin Hood character in his time and a celebrity amongst poor folk, but he was hung at Tyburn, at the age of twenty-two. Jonathan Wild was a wolf in sheep's clothing, adopting a two-faced approach to law-enforcement, chasing down criminals whilst availing himself of the criminal lifestyle. He joined Sheppard at the same gallows only a year later.

Kurt Weill's original song (Mackie Messer) mentioned only one woman, Jenny Towler, but the Darin version (Mack the Knife) listed a host of female names, some of whom were real life celebrities. For example, Lotte Lenya was the wife of Kurt Weill, and a celebrity in her own right as an actress, singer, and raconteur. Lucy Brown, however, is not to be confused with the modern actress of that name. Other characters were Louie Miller, Sukey Tawdry, Jenny Diver, and Polly Peachum (a name used in place of Lotte Lenya in some versions). The song was Darin's biggest hit, spending over two months at the top of the charts. It's funny to me, because the two month run was briefly interrupted by The Fleetwoods, with their release of Mr Blue. The Fleetwoods have nothing to do with band Fleetwood Mac, but the indirect connection between Mack the Knife and Fleetwood Mac wasn't lost on my warped brain.

In this graphic novel, those names pop up, sometimes quite amusingly. Jenny Diver, for example, is the name assumed by a run-away Indian woman named Janni, whose name is misinterpreted (typically for the time) as Jenny. She adds the 'Diver' portion to it because she loved to dive into the sea near her home in India. How she would know the English word 'diver' is left unexplained. She speaks English evidently, but didn't have much chance to use it in her native home. The Hindi word for diver is gotakhora, so why she didn't make her name up from something akin to that was quietly glossed over.

One problem with detailing Janni's life was that many panels contained text which was entirely in Hindi. The point of this, if there was one, was lost on me. The Hindi text was not translated, so I had no idea what was going on in those frames, except that her father was dying and she didn't want to take over this business - the business of running Captain Nemo's ship, not even after she learns later that her father has died. After this, she completely disappears from the story until an inexplicable and brief appearance towards the end. It made no sense after her flat refusal to become involved. The rest of the story is completely divorced from this and consists largely of some tedious dipshit dame singing the same nonsensical songs throughout, and no real story whatsoever. I can't recommend this drivel - and I've decided on a lot less Moore.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

From Hell by Alan Moore

Title: From Hell
Author: Alan Moore
Publisher: Top Shelf
Rating: WARTY!

Art work: Eddie Campbell and Pete Mullins

This is the graphic novel from which the Johnny Depp movie of the same title was derived. I'd recommend the movie as an entertaining bit of nonsense, but I cannot recommend this rambling miasma of absurdity and boredom, which is really no more than a graphic realization of a Jack the Ripper Masonic conspiracy pulled directly from the 1976 book Jack the Ripper: The Final Solution.

The conceit here is that Jack the Ripper was really a doctor to Queen Victoria's royal family, William Gull, who was charged with covering up an indiscretion by an immediate member of the royal family. This is a nonsensical conspiracy theory hasn't a grain of truth to it and is in effect a scandalous libel of Doctor Gull.

The story pretends that Prince Albert Victor one of Victoria's children, secretly married "a commoner" named Annie Crook, with whom he had a child. Annie supposedly had no idea who he really was. When Queen Vic learns of it, she locks up Annie in an institution for the insane, and when she learns that a handful of prostitutes know the truth, she tasks William Gull with covering it up. Gull is supposedly a Mason, and ritually kills the girls for purposes of his own.

The daughter sired by the prince and damned by all is inexplicably not slaughtered, but left with a painter by the name of Walter Sickert (a real person who has also been named as the Ripper by a assortment of writers!).

The story lacks life and luster, and it became so boring when Moore decided to spend page after page after endless page taking us on a tour of London and trying to tie everything into a Massive Masonic Mystery Tour. I felt bad for Eddie Campbell and Pete Mullins having to draw all that crap. I expected Beatles music, which I didn't even get to offset the pictorial disaster. I noticed, also, that Moore is yet another writer who doesn't understand that there's a difference between stanch and staunch (page seven). I can't recommend this one at all.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Watchmen by Alan Moore

Title: Watchmen
Author: Alan Moore
Publisher: DC Comics
Rating: WORTHY!
Illustrated by Dave Gibbons

The "Minutemen":
Captain Metropolis / Nelson Gardner
Dollar Bill / William Benjamin Brady
Hooded Justice / Rolf Müller(?)
Mothman / Byron Lewis
Nite Owl / Hollis Mason
Silk Spectre/ Sally Juspeczyk
The Silhouette / Ursula Zandt

The "Crimebusters":
Captain Metropolis / Nelson Gardner
The Comedian / Eddie Blake
Dr. Manhattan / Jon Osterman
Nite Owl II / Dan Dreiberg
Ozymandias / Adrian Veidt
Rorschach / Walter Kovacs
Silk Spectre 2 / Laurie Jupiter

Here's the closing item to the recent reviews of the Before Watchmen series which I've been reviewing lately. I decided I needed to close it out with the original, even though it's old news now and everyone who cares already knows all about it! I liked the graphic novel and I recommend it.

Watchmen is set in a parallel universe and in the eighties. It's pretty much like ours except that there are superheroes (only one of whom actually has real super powers - Doctor Manhattan), who have been rendered illegal by an act passed in 1977. The only two who are legally sanctioned are Manhattan and The Comedian, a sociopath who is nothing more than a government sanctioned hit man. A third, Rorschach, still operates, but illegally.

Rorschach, curiously, is also a sociopath who actually investigates crimes, and is good at what he does, but he's also very prudish and judgmental. He used to drop off his captures outside the police HQ for them to dispense justice, but at a certain point, he quit doing that and simply dispatches them himself.

The story begins in 1985, with (and centering around) his investigation into the death of Eddie Blake, who Rorschach discovers is really The Comedian, now retired, but still in good physical condition. Except that someone more powerful beat him up and tossed him to his death out of the window of his apartment block. Thinking that there's a plot to assassinate the super heroes, Rorschach begins visiting each in turn to warn them.

He first visits Nite Owl 2, who is himself in the habit of visiting the original Nite Owl, who has written an autobiography about his super hero exploits. He and Adrian Veidt are the only two super heroes to have 'come out' (unless you count Manhattan whose identity has always been known). After warning Dreiberg (who doesn't believe him), with whom Rorschach was once partnered back in the day, he visits Manhattan and Silk Spectre 2, who are living together in a government compound as Manhattan works on an energy project, working with Ozymandias, supposedly the world's smartest man.

It's Dreiberg who visits Ozymandias to pass on Rorschach's warning, but he doesn't take it seriously either. Several of these heroes attend Blake's funeral, where Rorschach looks on in his 'disguise' - that is, without his mask and toting a "the end is nigh" type of poster. Shortly after this, Manhattan is confronted by his old girlfriend on TV. She's peeved that he ditched her for Silk Spectre because she was growing older, and he wanted someone young. She accuses him of causing her cancer via his glowing body, which causes him to abandon earth for Mars.

His absence triggers some aggressive moves on the part of the Soviets. Meanwhile, an attempt is made on Ozymandias's life, seemingly confirming Rorschach's suspicions, and Rorschach himself is arrested for the murder of super-villain Moloch, who had previously revealed to Rorschach that he was visited by The Comedian, who had evidently made some shocking discovery which caused him to have a minor breakdown. He sat crying at the foot of Moloch's bed.

Silk Spectre, disillusioned and angry with Manhattan for his lack of human feeling for her, hooks up with Dreiberg, and they go out one night and beat up on some thugs who thought that the couple were an easy mark. This triggers nostalgia for their former costumed glory days, and they later don those costumes and go rescue some people from a burning house. After an encounter with Manhattan, the two of them bust Rorschach out from prison. meanwhile Silk Spectre is transported to Mars where she learns from Manhattan that The Comedian is her father. She despises the man because he once tried to rape her mother, the original Silk Spectre.

Dreiberg comes on board with Rorschach as they discover that Adrian Veidt is behind the murder of Blake. His motivation is to cause a war with fake aliens to get people to realize how fruitless their petty differences are, and thereby bring them together. Confronting him in his polar lair, they try to take him on, but he is stronger than the pair of them together. As he demonstrates the success of his plan, Manhattan realizes that they have no choice but to follow it now. He murders Rorschach in order to keep him from exposing what Veidt has done.

Dreiberg and Jupiter go into hiding together, but Rorschach has sent his journal, containing the details of his investigation, to a local right wing publication which will reveal all.

I liked the graphic novel, but I preferred the movie version of it. The two are much the same, but the movie tells a cleaner story, more compact, and more engrossing for me.