Running (if you will) to the top (of the hill) to work a few deals (with gods) but occasionally it's nice to stop our paces and natter about comic books that may or may not have ever really been looked at in years if not decades. Like the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, for instance. Obsessively "annotated," solved in some ways but rarely coagulated or understood as an evolving technical apparatus for first mapping, then plotting and executing activity on the microcosmic interfaces where fiction happens. The initial volumes were really just goofing around for a paycheck whilst building a war machine and the density of semiotic chaff or "dazzle" that allows the thing to operate unmolested: anything going on keeps going on after the reader labels that carrot person in the parlor dome and rests.
By the end it's a catalog . . . of tactics . . . what someone among the loggias might even call a thesis setting forth his knowedge of the universe and his proposals for its welfare and progress. He might actually have a formal grimoire slouching down his sleeve to formally unite the kingdoms of [a]egypt but it's practically an afterthought, an encore to his maps of dream. We already see the hinges of history and the individual, where fake nous comes from, how it evolves under the impacts of desire, its ultimate magnetic journey north and south. Clever, unusual people -- oh to be the creme de la creme -- cross the panel borders and participate in the world of spies, the world of magicians, maybe occasionally the world of the superheroes. Some come back.
Take for example the strange case of Jean Grey, better known to many as superhero Famke Janssen. When she was born within the fictional timeline circa 1948, her parents didn't have the Muriel Sparks character as a reference so her name emerges fully formed out of a kind of private void: maybe they were Scottish, which explains the hair and handwaves the emotional walls that made her such a natural fit for the early school.
But when she was concocted fully formed in maybe early 1963, late 1962, Stan Lee reached for a shiksa to fill out his squad and found the prime of Miss Jean Brodie reaching back. The book was huge. The play was huge. You could not get away from it. And while that family gene proved recessive, it's still there, carrying the potential for a different kind of academic situation, at least as intense but gendered very differently. And while Cyclops was probably fired from the radio station a few months before the movie and its soundtrack came out, you can imagine the odd ghost regret he felt for never getting to play the Rod McKuen track endlessly as a secret mash note. That secret mash note is another of the hinges around which time is structured.
(And of course the triumph of the superheroes has altered our world. While trying to make sure the single broke after he left radio you find things like this, funny foreshadowing like mutants born centuries too soon.)
Now while most readers are chewing on that, the rest of us are actually over here with Alan Moore, who never actually wrote the character although he took a turn on Magneto once and of course developed the environment where the character's parthogenetic dystopian twin "Rachel" (apparently not a shiksa) flowered. What you've just seen is only a minor demonstration of the techniques on display throughout LOEG, the dazzle ships distorting distance and direction like flashing colours at a Gilbert & George show or the machines Jerry Cornelius' father built in France. It takes a Village.
The real polemic, the big guns, are still so well camouflaged that a decade after the Black Dossier they still elude direct surveillance. We've hit a few of the high notes from the NEMO trilogy, crunching the unspoken critique that they're just a throwaway to pad Kevin's retirement fund. Century of course builds to Hogwarts as the ultimate expression of a particular aeonic project, the revolt of the novitiate groomed to serve. He clearly loathes the syrup that acts as a preservative -- Ridgely was just watching an Attenborough on amber last night -- and so this is his method of gathering all his enemies into one snake's head so he can crush it. Mary Poppins as mask of God, the perrenial by definition is what always comes back while publishing fads come and go. In the process so many of his enemies wash away like chalk drawings in the rain. There's the myth of Crowley, the great beast 666. There goes Mick, doomed to a kind of panto black brotherhood while Brian remains poignant and vibrant in death. Good-bye, Harry. And there goes a generation of anoraks annotating the biographies of roaches while the real life is elsewhere, in the toys Prospero deigns to keep on the table after he's let Al[l]en -- who is also sometimes John Constantine -- wither and burn.
But if Century is partially about heisting someone else's sarcophagus for later personal use, there's another school in the books that casts a longer shadow. Beside the magicians there are the spies, Dee as a hinge that swings over to Walsingham as well as Prospero and 007 is singled out for special scorn as the sacrifice when A+M climb the 39 steps to Greyfriars. That's the posh campus where we briefly see Gloriana with "Jack Wilton" in tow, Prospero apparently being absent that day. It's a land of strange regress, hard pews, toilet training and casual instructive cruelty, a universe that teaches discipline, canalizes desire, enforces hierarchies. Miss Martindale's lurid reputation.
We see the claw marks of this country again behind the pages when they don't enjoy their visit to Samois, while NEMO is winding up her long punctuated war with stalag fiction and over in the universe next door the Lovecraft thing threatens to crowd out the polymorphous perversity of a mad mad mad mad world, which here in LOEG we know as the fonts of creation that straddle the south pole like a tiger lily, mother of us all.
(I keep wanting to abbreviate as LOEXG even though as Mina says only an American would do that and, as we apparently know, there is no X in the Moore oeuvre. "X"-cept in its deliberate and persistent erasure.)
The world of the spies, the primal crimes that spin out the fake regime of Big Brother and all the deep state unpleasantness that generates LOEG units: for Moore at this time, original sin tends to manifest as the exploitation of children: the dragon in Smax, what the Justice League got up to at the end of Top 10, strange talk of the "grooming" of proto spies over here in a book that otherwise revels in the erotic applications of people who do not technically exist. Go Ask Alice. It's a strange complex in the aggregate. Arguably it still drives his world behind the screens of Hogwarts going into the brexit. Fake news!
"Cousins." What drove the Famous Five into these circles of intimacy and deceit? How do cases like Jimmy Savile and X-Men impressario Bryan Singer feed into the tight clubs that form around charismatic teachers who may or may not have ulterior agendas? Maybe getting caught up on the other side of the Spanish Civil War from the Cambridge Spies in their impressionable youth is the easy way out.
I suspect Greyfriars closed permanently under the weight of the Missa Luba "Sanctus" and a whole lot of firepower just before 1969, the year Jean Grey's modeling career took off and Maggie Smith became immortal. My own school, the infamous "greeting card factory" and art mafia spawning ground, was busy acknowledging women as people as the ancient frat complex wound down, melted into the crisp highland air that we breathe(d).
Ilvermorny with all its retroactive bullshit. Camden / Hampden.
Old heads on young bodies, the inverse of the Princess Langwidere complex. Where do the young heads go? New mutants, shadow kings, demon lords of "limbo." Jean as psychic confidante, having to help him fake his own death and lie to the others about it. Jean making that deal with god and then keeping it when the dream got too vivid to sustain under concerted telepathic pressure. Oh, which reminds me, this came out. Miss Martindale practically swept under the rug. Suddenly I wonder where she is now.