Alan Moore doesn’t mess with your brain this time

Nemo: Heart of Ice by Alan Moore and Kevin O’Neill

After years of more heady and abstract diversions involving the Victorian era super team, Moore and O’Neill return to a more agreeable nuts and bolts presentation that highlights Captain Nemo’s daughter, Janni Dakkar, and crosses that with Citizen Kane — literally, since Charles Foster Kane is the instigator of the mad plan to gain revenge on  Dakkar for robbing him.

That plan results in a showdown at the South Pole, with Dakkar retracing her father’s steps in an attempt to move past piracy as a way of life, and a pair of nefarious adventurer/inventors, including Tom Swift — here Swyfte —  under Kane’s hire in hot pursuit, not to mention some dangerous and odd monsters.

The whole thing is wrapped up with an in-depth report from Hildy Johnson, main character of The Front Page.

The main story, meanwhile, brings in specific characters and elements from books by H. Rider Haggard, Jules Verne, Edgar Allen Poe and H.P. Lovecraft.

The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen series has always been part parlor game — name the obscure Victorian lit character and the book of origin — and it descended into an incredibly abstract and, at times, hard to access version over time. With Heart Of Ice, simplicity returns — you don’t have to know any of the clever backgrounds and in-jokes in order to enjoy a fairly straightforward adventure with philosophical undertones, and so this is a welcome return to form.

The challenge of the League of Gentlemen books — and one that they rose to originally — was to mix the headiness in with the pulp and transcend both forms. The scales tipped to the side of headiness for awhile there, but with this title, the balance has returned and Moore offers an accessible introduction to his incredible world for those who might not have encountered it.

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