Monday, May 28, 2012

League of Lost-traordinary Gentlemen

Hello everyone! While we wait for my Game of Thrones post later this week, I have a fun Lost-related one to share with you this week. And it's written by a guest poster! I first met Justin Mohareb at a fan convention, when he approached me in line and asked if I had a quarter for coffee. He was wearing a little tinfoil hat and muttering to himself, and I handed him the quarter and then he wandered away, continuing to mutter about voices and aliens and something about magnets. But then he got better, was the first person I know of who figured out that Lost was all about magnets (because it was, wasn't it?), and he generally makes me laugh the entire time I'm with him. And not because of his funny tinfoil hat. And not only THAT, but as you can see from the picture, he travelled to Westeros and took the Iron Throne. AND... he took pictures. So now I present to you, Justin Mohareb!


In 1999 the world was introduced to the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen.  The comic series created by comic book mastermind Allan Moore and artist Kevin O’Neil took Victorian characters and brought them together as a supergroup (in both senses of the word).  The conceit of the LoEG comics is that everything that has happened in fiction is real.  Dracula stalked the same London as Sherlock Holmes, Mr. Hyde and the Invisible Man.

When the first comic starts, the League has been in existence for over 100 years, founded by Shakespeare’s Prospero at the behest of England’s Fairy Queen. In the first volume of the LoEG, Mina Murray, the heroine of Dracula, must assemble a team together to battle the mysterious Fu Manchu, while in the second they must help defeat an invasion from Mars.

The story of the LoEG has continued over the decade since its introduction, with two complete series (Vols.  1 & 2), a standalone graphic novel (the Black Dossier) and the current storyline, Century.

Century has been published as a series of standalone books that tell the story of the League and their attempts to foil the plan of Crowley-esque Satanist Oliver Haddo’s plan to create the Moon Child, a sort of anti-christ.

The third book of Century, Let It Come Down, is set in 2009 and scheduled for release this July. What’s of interest to the reader of this blog is this panel from the newest book. 

The hero is walking through a modern London, passing a Wellesian Martian tripod that is a memorial to the Martian invasion.  

At one point, he strolls by a poster for DriveShaft’s new album, Oh, Who Cares? (a reference to Nirvana’s Nevermind), and that sets gears moving.

The majority of the LoEG’s sources to date have been literary.  This doesn't’ surprise me.  I imagine that unlike Harlan Ellison, Moore doesn’t have a huge tv in his living room.  He is the type who declares a disinterest in pop culture and I expect he follows that up. The only TV character who’s been in the series to date was Emma Peel from The Avengers.  

But it’s great to think about how well the tale of the Island and the castaways fit into the larger world of the LoEG.  

The world of the League would nicely encompass the characters of Lost.  There are still musicians, con men, fugitives and surgeons.  Jack’s own drug problems mirror nicely those of Allan Quatermain, and Sawyer and Kate’s brushes with the law are practically jaywalking tickets compared to the invisible man’s violations.  The tensions created by having a former Republican Guardsman on the island pale in comparison to having a cornerstone of the team be a Sikh revolutionary, even if they’re both talented engineers in their own ways.

An island capable of movement, inhabited by a number of factions seeking to control its powers for their own goals?  That fits nicely.

A major divergence is in the morality of the two stories.  In the League, there’s often a great deal of pragmatism applied to the resolution of problems.  To defeat the martians, for example, humans must resort to biological warfare (did you really think it was just a common cold?).  Lost has a Manichean worldview. There is good and there is bad.  They are opposed, much like the dual sides of a backgammon piece or the opposing poles of two magnets.  

The island can be considered to be, as in the original Lost narrative, as a staging ground for the conflict between good and evil.  It has, in the League’s world as much as the original, sealed itself away to act as a battleground between the forces which serve the Alpha and the Omega, the forces of Jacob and Barry.

Of course, as part of the world of the League, it’s possible that many fictional explorers may have found their way onto the Island’s shores.  Imagine, for example, Lemuel Gulliver or Robinson Crusoe finding themselves shipwrecked on its shores.  Would they be candidates, or just hapless castaways?  Could Captain Nemo have found himself encountering the island, perhaps with his League companions or just with his storied crew?  

Professor Challenger might certainly have found his way onto the island in the past, and it would be amusing to see contemporary explorers Dirk Pitt or Lara Croft attempt to explore its mysteries.

The reference to Lost in the new League story is likely a throwaway one, but it’s still exciting to imagine how the stories of the island might fit into a larger fictional universe. 

Justin Mohareb has killed more magazines than most Hindus have had steak dinners.  He currently has a moribund blog a relatively quiet podcast and he also writes for Biff Bam Pop and does editing for TDot Comics 


SenexMacdonald said...

Barry!!! I had to laugh even though I should have seen it coming.

Well written with lots of insight. I guess I should really read the comics then. Right?

Might prove to be very insightful ... being a LOST fan and all.

Well done, Justin. :)

Batcabbage said...

Nice column. I was worried there for a second when I saw that panel, worried that Century #3 was already out and I was going to have to yell REAL LOUD at my comic shop. That thing's been on my pull list for three years, and it's weird to have something like that - a comic which seems to come out annually. I'm not complaining - the man's a genius, and I'd wait a decade between issues for LOEG.

But one thing I take issue with is this: I imagine that ... Moore doesn’t have a huge tv in his living room. He is the type who declares a disinterest in pop culture and I expect he follows that up.

A statement that I counter with a quote from the man himself (from an EW interview he did):

EW:Do you ever relax and just watch television?

Alan Moore: Selectively, mostly on DVD. The absolute pinnacle of anything I've seen recently has got to be The Wire. It's the most stunning piece of television that has ever come out of America, possibly the most stunning piece of television full-stop.

See? TV. And GOOD TV. I don't think he's disinterested in pop culture - he's just smart enough to ignore the shit.

Colleen/redeem147 said...

Good stuff, Justin!

I'm pretty sure I know where you can find the comics, Senexmacdonald. ;)

Joan Crawford said...

How awesome is that picture!? You should instruct your friends and family that if ever you went missing, this is the picture they should distribute.