If you’ve never heard of Alan Moore, you’ve probably heard of Watchmen, the seminal comic he wrote in the mid-1980s.
The Nemo trilogy is a spin off from the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, one of the ABC line of comics Moore masterminded around the turn of the century. Moore stopped writing for ABC because of interference with his work by DC comics, of which ABC was an imprint. He continued to write the League for another publisher but I think many Moore fans would agree that he may be passed his zenith as a comic writer. But an Alan Moore in decline is still probably the best mainstream comics has to offer with the exception of Garth Ennis. The truth is there is so much bad writing in comics that a new publication by Moore is always very welcome on the scene.
The Nemo trilogy has been published in three separate handsome hardback volumes. They are quite short – about 60 pages each – but its good value for what you get. The central character is an Indian princess pirate, born in 1900 and we follow her adventures as a young woman in the first volume, as a middle aged woman in the second and as an old woman in the final volume. She commands the Nautilus, a massive technologically advanced submarine, and a private army who are very loyal to her.
Throughout the trilogy most of the characters speak the clear, articulate and literate English you will find in all Moore’s work but the characters are not as strong as those of Moore in his hay day. The story is entertaining but it doesn’t ring true enough on a human level as in Moore’s best work. He could have made more of the generations theme and Nemo’s ghosts as well as the issue of ageing. Also, dare I say it, he seems to be repeating himself with the idea of a science fiction of the past.
It has to be said, this work shows a tired Alan Moore. But it does have much to recommend it. If you like exotic adventures, science heroes, and violence – the Nemo trilogy will be a satisfying read. If you enjoy clear, fresh dialogue then this comic will not let you down. And last but not least is the fantastic artwork by Kevin O’Neill. Moore gives O’Neill many full page illustrations which allow the artist to highlight his gift for science fiction. Check out the artwork for the Berlin Metropolis in the second volume. The Nemo trilogy shows that, in a world of CGI, a good old fashioned comic book can be stimulating and imaginative and just as enjoyable. Probably the best thing about the artwork is the vibrant colouring – it is a visual feast. As with the writing, the artwork is about the best thing out there in mainstream contemporary comics. O’Neill has worked with Moore since the first League series and this collaboration has given the world much beautiful literature.
If you are new to Alan Moore the Nemo trilogy probably isn’t the best place to start as it doesn’t show his genius. If you are a fan of Moore, especially of the ABC era, this trilogy is worth buying. It may be that he has milked the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen dry which would explain the tired feel of the stories in the trilogy. Hopefully he will move on to fresh pastures soon and show a return to form.