After the fascist forces of Adenoid Hynkel make the mistake of downing a rebel airship commanded by Janni Nemo, the young granddaughter of famed Captain Nemo, her mother, the current captain of the awesomely destructive sea vessel, The Nautilus, Princess Dakkar, takes it upon herself to infiltrate Germany’s futuristic Metropolis to mount a brutal rescue/revenge mission.
The world of Alan Moore and Kevin O’Neill’s League of Extraordinary Gentlemen has been going for some time now, in fact it’s one of the few kind-of-ongoing projects that Moore occasionally comes out of his semi-retirement to work on.
Being in his current disposition of comic’s resident grumpy, nay-saying bastard, it surely must mean that this grand amalgamation of huge swaths of fictiondom is a genuine labor of love not only for the bearded, scorpion-ringed one but also the mental illustrator, O’Neill, who also works on little else.
The tapestry these guys are weaving has truly become a first in the realms of creativity; to begin with it was merely an ambitious extension of the crossovers that frequently occurred in literature and fiction in general, but now the League universe has become a vast and intricate web that is growing in an almost organic and seemingly effortless manner.
Nemo: The Roses of Berlin is a follow-up to last year’s graphic novel spin-off, Nemo: Heart of Ice, and as with that book (along with all the League adventures) I would dissuade you from using this as a jumping on point for the series as there is simply too much that has to be taken as a given for the story to be truly appreciated. Those fully up on the League series to date, as ever, will find it challenging enough to keep up with only a fraction of the references here in play, so adding shorthand references to past League stories can only add more confusion to the mix.
(For those who wish to go back and start from scratch the running order is, The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, LOEG vol2, The Black Dossier, Century 1910, Century 1969, Century 2009, Nemo: Heart of Ice and Nemo: The Roses of Berlin)
In it’s own right, and only speaking for its basic narrative, this is probably the most simple and pacey adventure yet, with its story taking place over a very brief timescale and in a very singular direction, with this Moore and O’Neill create some of their most classically cinematic beats and reveals, which though replacing many of the usual wealth of surprises are quite exhilarating nonetheless.
The details are, of course, an entirely different matter with the background reference textures as thick and expansive as always. Almost every panel holds a treasure chest worth of hidden gems that could withstand hours of scrutiny and research. This adventure’s major influences are cinematic in nature, more precisely Charlie Chaplin’s classic, The Great Dictator, and Fritz Lang’s masterwork, Metropolis, but other contributors include works as varied as Jules Verne’s Robur the Conqueror, George Orwell’s 1984, The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari and Highlander amongst many, many others.
Again, as with the numerous other traditions that are permeating this series, rounding off this beautifully presented hardcover graphic novel is an illustrated text account that adds yet further layers into this massive world, so while a quicker read than any LOEG story before it, it still far outstrips most other graphic novels in the value for money stakes.
As this review may suggest, Nemo: The Roses of Berlin is more of the same insofar as The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen stories are concerned, which is far from a bad thing and shouldn’t suggest there isn’t masses of innovation, quite the opposite in fact, it would suggest that you’re in for one of the most intelligent reads of the year coupled with some grotesquely trippy and detailed artwork.
A- grade – for originality
A- grade – for storytelling
B+ grade – for artwork
Overall grade – A-