The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen comic book series—which crams together all of writer Alan Moore's favorite fictional characters into a single crime-fighting team—has always straddled the line between Super Friends and Super Friends as Written by Anal-Retentive English Lit Professors. At their best, the League books work as fantastic adventures, full of sly references to just about every book ever. But occasionally, Moore and artist Kevin O'Neill's in-jokes have a trying tendency to take center stage. Century: 1910—the latest League book, which comes out on Wednesday from local publisher Top Shelf—feels overwhelmed by such references, largely because the book's brief narrative is only partially complete: 1910 is merely the first of three planned Century volumes.
Here, League standbys Mina Murray and Allan Quatermain are joined by thief A.J. Raffles, the gender-swapping Orlando, and supernatural sleuth Thomas Carnacki, and together, they... well, they don't do much, other than have worrisome premonitions. (The most engaging of 1910's plotlines is actually about Janni, the teenage daughter of Captain Nemo, whose attempt to fend for herself in 1910 London echoes the lyrics of "Pirate Jenny.")
When Century is finished, I have little doubt it'll stack up well enough next to other League tales. But for now, this 78-page volume feels like little more than a grab bag of literary references and foreshadowings.