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The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Volume III: Century

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Century - collected edition (2014)

The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Volume III: Century
is the third volume of The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen by Alan Moore and Kevin O'Neill. It was co-published from May 2009 to June 2012 by Top Shelf Productions and Knockabout Comics in the United States and United Kingdom, respectively. It is the first League of Extraordinary Gentlemen installment which was not published by DC Comics.  

While the first two volumes of the series were published in a more conventional six-issue magazine format as with typical comics, Century consists of three 80-page graphic novels, published in 2009, 2011 and 2012 respectively, and a collected edition was released in July 2014. The central plot resolves around Mina Murray, Allan Quatermain and Orlando trying to prevent the arrival of an Antichrist over the course of a century.

PlotEdit

Chapter 1. What Keeps Mankind Alive?Edit

Century 1910

1910

In 1910, twelve years after the extraterrestrial invasion of England and the disbanding of the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Captain Nemo lies on his deathbed in Lincoln Island.He asks his estranged daughter, Janni Dakkar, to resume his name and calling after his death. Janni refuses and leaves her father's side. Spying a passing ship, she swims towards it and stows away upon it. The ship takes her to London where she takes up employment at a wharf side hotel under the name Jenny Diver. Arriving on the same ship as Janni is Jack MacHeath a.k.a. Jack the Ripper, who is a direct descendant of the 18th-century highwayman MacHeath a.k.a. Mack the Knife, and immediately takes to murdering prostitutes again, one of whom looks suspiciously like Louise Brooks.

Meanwhile, the occult detective and second League member Thomas Carnacki has visions of bloodshed on the waterfront and of a secret cabal of magicians convening to plot the creation of a Moonchild destined to bring forth the end of the world. Mina believes these visions may be connected with the upcoming coronation of King George V. Intelligence chief Mycroft Holmes advises them to investigate both, and suggests that the bloodshed on the waterfront is the work of MacHeath, whom he believes to be Jack the Ripper.

While investigating one of the men Carnacki saw in his vision, Orlando, Quatermain and Carnacki stumble upon the circle of magicians, who claim that what Carnacki saw either is wrong, or has not happened yet. Carnacki inadvertently gives the magicians a crucial piece of information that they need to create the Moonchild. At the same time, Mina and Raffles consult Andrew Norton, a time traveler bound by the confines of the city of London, who speaks in riddles that hint at the Harry Potter-series, war in Iraq and the July 7 bombings, but otherwise offers little help. He vanishes to another time, promising that he will meet Mina again in 1969.

Janni is raped by the drunken patrons of her hotel, and is later aided to her room by Suky Tawdry. Janni fires a flare to summon the Nautilus—the "Black Raider"—which is docked nearby.

The following day MacHeath is about to be hanged without trial as Mycroft is worried that a trial might bring to light the involvement of the 14th Earl of Gurney in the original Ripper murders. MacHeath sings his last plea from the gallows while the Nautilus, now painted black as per Nemo's orders, and with his skull nailed to the forecastle, emerges and destroys every building on the waterfront, save for Janni's hotel. The crew of the Nautilus descends upon the waterfront to loot, murder and rape while Janni, now the captain of the Nautilus, orders that the hotel patrons be killed slowly.

At the last moment, a message arrives from the Earl of Gurney confessing to all the Ripper crimes. MacHeath is released and the League head to the waterfront to try and push the pirates back. While the men fight, Mina comes face to face with Janni, who recognises her. Janni says her father had nothing but bad things to say about Mina, which renders her worthy of respect to Janni. She bids Mina farewell, inviting Mina to join her should Mina ever decide to forsake government work. When Mina asks her name, Janni says she is "no one".

The issues ends with Mina expressing frustration with the League, while MacHeath and Suki sing and dance to a modified version of What Keeps Mankind Alive.

Chapter 2. Paint It BlackEdit

Century 1969

1969

In 1969, almost sixty years after "What Keeps Mankind Alive?", and about 11 years after the events of Black Dossier, Mina, Allan, and Orlando are escorted by Captain Janni Nemo to Britain from Lincoln Island after being contacted by Prospero in the Blazing World to investigate the murder of Basil Fotherington-Thomas by the cult of Oliver Haddo and to reunite with Norton. Mina is coming to grips with the problems of immortality. They quickly discover that Haddo’s spirit has transferred to Kosmo Gallion, and he intends to transfer yet again to the body of Terner, the leadsinger in the band Purple Orchestra. The League's encounter with the mysterious Andrew Norton has numerous cryptic warnings that are difficult to discern. He also says that by the time they reunite in 2009 it will be too late.

Meanwhile Jack Carter is hired by mob leader Vince Dakin to discover who murdered Basil (who was one of his lovers) as well. Carter's interrogations lead him to the cult of Gallion.

Terner holds a concert at Hyde Park in honor of Basil (which parallels the real-world death of Rolling Stones member Brian Jones and subsequent Hyde Park tribute concert) in which he reads poetry and sings a song which resembles Sympathy for the Devil. Mina, Orlando and Allan attempt to stop the ritual of the transfer from occurring but Mina realizes the actual ritual is occurring at Gallion's shop. Mina drops Tadukic Acid Diethylamide 26, and meets Haddo on the astral plane. Haddo overpowers Mina, though he reveals that his possession of Terner will not effect his planned birth of the antichrist. Carter meanwhile kills Gallion. With his plan gone awry, he is forced to enter the body of Tom Riddle. When Mina comes down from her trip, she is driven mad by bats that remind her of Dracula, and is taken away in an ambulance. Riddle meanwhile leaves through King's Cross through Platform 9 3/4 to Hogwarts.

Eight years later, in 1977, Allan and Orlando have still not reunited with Mina, who was their only link to the Blazing World. In a club where the band Zuki and the Tawdries play the song "Immoral Earnings" Orlando and Allan sulk. Now female and sporting a mohawk Orlando grows tired of Allan who has succumbed to his previous addictions to drugs (even attempting to pawn Excalibur) and leaves Allan, planning to join the Army once she is a man again.

Chapter 3. Let It Come DownEdit

Century 2009

2009

Opening to the disastrous war in Q'Mar Orlando, currently male, is about to receive a medal after apparently surviving a massacre. Before being sent home, he gloomily confesses to a fellow immortal soldier Corporal Cuckoo that he actually ran amok and committed the massacre himself in a sudden lapse of composure.

Arriving in a dystopic, commercialized London, Orlando returns to the empty League headquarters and finds himself turning female again. She is then contacted by Prospero who angrily states that the antichrist has been born and must be stopped.

In despair, Orlando goes to the secret intelligence headquarters in Vauxhall - ostensibly a Freemason venue - and asks to speak with M. Escorted by two successors of James Bond, the new M is revealed to be Emma Night who remembers her previous experience with the league and now considers the League to be trustworthy. Orlando promises to give Night the secret to immortality if she gives her information on where to find Mina. M promises to look into it. As Orlando goes home she runs into a homeless man who she recognises as Allan. Allan panics and flees.

Orlando finds Mina in Rosa Coote's Disciplinary Psychiatric Ward run by Coote's descendent. Mina, who was interned back in 1969, is hopelessly drugged and confused, but Orlando takes her home. Emerging from the antipsychotics daze, Mina remembers that the only one who will be able to find the antichrist is Norton. They also try to speak to Allan once more, but he is a heroin addict and rejects them. Mina and Orlando find Norton, who guides them to King's Cross which he identifies as a nexus of fiction. He takes them into a secret platform in the railway station, housing the ruins of a magical steam-train and the decaying remains of the victims of a horrific massacre. Norton states that the train will take them to the school the Antichrist came from, but he himself cannot go with them as he is "the Prisoner of London".

The two pass a nightmarish journey into the magical dreamworld of Britain, eventually finding themselves in the burned-out ruins of an "Invisible College" devoted to teaching magic. As they investigate the school, the reader learns that it was razed in a rampage by the antichrist - Harry Potter, a student marked as a baby by Haddo with a distinctive scar - who was subsequently manipulated into accepting his destiny through various adventures against Haddo himself, only to be driven mad upon learning the truth. As they investigate the ruins and discover the beheaded corpse of Haddo - the antichrist having taken the still-living head with him - Orlando and Murray contemplate that this magical world's devastation is reflected by the real world's. Mina says the reverse is also possible.

Mina and Orlando return to London and speak to Prospero who orders them to confront the antichrist, and use Excalibur to signal for reinforcements. Mina and Orlando make love as they dreadfully await what is to happen next. Meanwhile Allan buys a gun and tries to commit suicide, but he hesitates.

Mina and Orland confront Potter who emerges from a concealed house in the form of a giant covered in eyeballs and struggling to remain remotely human, and begins to trigger the end of the world. The sword Excalibur reacts to this by bringing forth a light in the sky. The sight is overseen by all in the world and causes arch-terrorist Jack Nemo, the original captain's latest descendent, to abandon his terrorist actions in Pakistan and return to a mysterious project at Lincoln Island. Allan arrives and blasts the antichrist with a futuristic weapon, but the monster is unfazed by this and kills Quatermain with magic lightning discharged from his penis. Mina hysterical by this loss accepts doom until out of the sky comes an enigmatic woman who destroys the antichrist, implying that she is a manifestation of God. As this is occurring, Haddo proclaims that Armageddon shall still happen as Murray is now destined to usher it. The Woman takes Haddo's head before Murray can find an answer to his words.

As they mourn the death of Quatermain, Night arrives accompanied by three women who have all left MI6, as she has now. They promise to escort Mina and Orlando to Africa to bury the body of Allan Quatermain as Night seeks to become immortal. The women bury Allan Quatermain in an existing grave dating from the time he originally faked his death. When Night inquires how one is able to cope with immortality, Mina states that one has to keep on living.

Extra materialEdit

Accompanying each of the three issues is an episode of a text-story entitled Minions of the Moon written in the style of a 1960s "New wave" science fiction-type story, that ties together a range of lunar stories, written by 'John Thomas' (a pseudonym of John Sladek, and slang term for the penis) for Lewd Worlds Of Science Fiction edited by James Colvin (another real-life former pseudonym, here that of Moore's friend – and New Worlds editor – Michael Moorcock). The story is presented as if written in 1969.

Part One begins with an unnamed patient at an unidentified point in time, it then elaborates on some details of how Orlando became immortal and references 2001: A Space Odyssey. Following this there is a section that continues directly from the main story. The next section features the start of The Story of O revealing the identity of O. The next section provides details of a superhero team that Mina was part of in 1964, whose members include Golden Age British hero Captain Universe, who has recently defeated Fletchen Hank's Stardust the Super Wizard. The final section concerns Mina's journey to the Moon with the Golliwog, under instructions from Prospero in the Blazing World, who fears that the Lunar War will force mankind's lunar residents to relocate to an area which the Blazing World "powers that be" do not wish them to reach - yet.

Parts Two and Three reference a range of lunar stories.

Format and publicationEdit

While previous volumes of The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen consisted of six standard comic book issues, the three chapters of Volume III are bound as 80-page paperback graphic novels, and the series has been collected into hardback form. This is correspondent with writer Alan Moore's belief that the decreasing sales of regular issues and the increasing sales of graphic novels makes the latter a more profitable and convenient format. Century was the first League of Extraordinary Gentlemen volume to be published by US publisher Top Shelf Productions and UK publisher Knockabout Comics, following controversy with DC Comics surrounding Black Dossier, as well as the film adaptation of V for Vendetta and the ownership issues surrounding Watchmen. Alan Moore had previously published his erotic graphic novel Lost Girls with Top Shelf.

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