The thought-criminal Alan Moore once more allies himself with the enemies of the Country that nurtured him in another exercise in name-dropping featuring Captain Nemo’s daughter. This time it is 1941 in the universe of fictitious characters, and Germany is at war with someone or other, the Germany of Adolph Hynkel, who, allied with the robot from Lang’s Metropolis and Doctor Caligari, is going about his nefarious business. Nemo’s 15-year-old daughter has apparently been captured along with her husband (the 15-year-old’s that is, not Nemo’s), Robur, and Nemo and husband Jack set out for Berlin to rescue them. They are helped along the way by Doctor Mabuse, and meet Ayesha, She-who-must-be-obeyed, who is one of Hynkel’s allies, and a mortal enemy of Nemo. There is much spectacular stage-dressing, as Lang’s Metropolis is the new Berlin (or the old Berlin in now Metropolis), and there is much speaking in German, and a little French, without the aid of editorial translation. That’s about it.
The artwork is spectacular, but the plot is quite thin. If you like these little books of Mr Moore, then you will find this one to your taste. I enjoyed it more than the previous volume Nemo: Heart of Ice, as there was actually a plot, and not just a fit of pique. Half the dialogue being foreign was a mild annoyance, but probably not as annoying as if I understood it.
A minor quibble – down our way, the river that runs through Berlin is the Spree, a tributary of the Havel, and not the Elbe, as in Nemo’s universe.
This hardback version really feels and looks like the kind of "Boy's Own" annual that you could get in the 1950s - 1960s. No doubt this a big part of Alan Moore's past influences and the "retro" atmosphere is a big part of the appeal - not the sort of thing you can reproduce on a Kindle, this is all about the joy of a real book, that might have been read under the covers by a schoolboy.
However, Moore's ironic twist is to make this very much an "adult" story in every sense of the word - no compromises are made and no punches pulled. It is graphic and not the sort of thing parents would really expect their children to be reading.
All in all this is a visual and tactile treat, with great retro details and is part of Alan Moore's unique vision - maybe a bit short and not as good as recent editions, but these are always worth seeing in the hardback format.
As much as I admire Alan Moore,and his works,I did find reading several pages in German off putting.Authentic,possibly,annoying,certanly.But carrying on from Heart of Ice,we have Janni Nemo once more as the star of the book,this time once more(as we find later) against nemesis Ayesha.Via Fritz Lang's--or should I say,Rotwang's--Metropolis,and Hitler;s(Hynkel's) fascist forces.I enjoyed it on the whole,a sad death experienced in these pages,but bad triumphing over evil in the end.I quite enjoy the "Dorothy Parker" type magazine articles at the backs(I can't recall the name of Parker;s rival,oh,Hedda Hopper,was it?),and like the series as a splinter of LOEG. It isn't as substantial,weighty,as others,perhaps,but nevertheless,deserves its place on my shelves. Who knows? If I ever catch up on my reading,I may go through it again.Not likely,but having read it once,I'm glad I did. But please,Alan....no more untranslated German.Or Japanese.Finnish,whatever!
This short work has Janni Nemo and Broad Arrow Jack, infiltrating a terrifying fascist Metropolis/Berlin on a rescue mission after Nemo's daughter Hira and Robur are shot down . Its a trap and the pair battle many bizarre and surprising cinema - spawned enemies including somnambulistic goose-stepping "sleeptroopers" and an iconic female robot. Chaplin's Adenoid Hynkel and Dr Caligari are present as well as many fantastic vehicles and nightmare architecture.
We have amazing Kevin O'Neill artwork. Detailed, busy, visceral and horrific. He has an ability to freeze the action most effectively in the fight scenes in a way that surpasses CGI and movies and has the reader pageflipping back and forth. He does awesome vehicles and machines, I love the Me.163 Komet "remix" on the cover and the Battleship inside the front cover. I would have like to have seen more of the Terror, Jules Verne's multi-role vehicle from Robur the Conquerer.
Alan Moore has produced another obscure reference laden work (wish there was an appendix) but it does not buckle under the weight, and it has a simple plot and some tender moments. Quite a lot of untranslated German is present but it adds to the atmosphere, This is a device often used in the League universe. I imagine its just for colour, and not plot-relevant.
A expertly crafted and a highly conceptual read, this will be incomprehensible to the general reader. This is arguably book No.8 in a bizarre non linear series of branching fiction mash-ups. Great fun, great art and lots of detail.
In order of publication the League of Extraordinary Gentleman books are
H Rider Haggard King Solomon's Mines (Oxford World's Classics) She (Oxford World's Classics)
Jules Verne Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea (Wordsworth Classics) and Robur The Conqueror
H P Lovecraft Necronomicon: The Best Weird Tales of H.P. Lovecraft: The Best Weird Fiction of H.P. Lovecraft (GOLLANCZ S.F.)
William Hope Hodgson The Casebook of Carnacki the Ghost Finder (Wordsworth Mystery & Supernatural) (Tales of Mystery & the Supernatural) The House on the Borderland (Penguin Classics)
These are a small fraction of the more obvious ones. Jess Nevins has done companion books for the first two volumes and the Black Dossier where he explains the literary references. These are a great resource for the weird fiction fan and will produce vast reading lists.
I snapped up this book digitally because I simply couldn't wait for the physical version to be published!
I'm enjoying the Nemo books quite a bit more than I thought I would, considering they're essentially just spin-off stories from the fantastic League of Extraoardinary Gentlemen series. And whilst I still miss the League's characters, Nemo is a very good runner up.
Roses of Berlin continues in the same literary mash-up vein as the League, this time incorporating a lot of references to Fritz Lang's Metropolis. Yes, there is a lot of German dialogue (more than my 15-year old German GCSE can help me with!) and, no, I'm not sure why, but it doesn't ruin the book. The story zips along, there's plenty of action, and of course (this being an Alan Moore book) a fair bit of nudity...
The Nemo books may be shallower than the League series, but they're still hugely enjoyable romps, and I hope there are many more to come! Now to re-read Heart of Ice...
It's a good book - the plot is exciting and fast paced and I read it cover to cover and greatly enjoyed it.
Some people appear to have a big problem with the German - I've got to admit it was a little annoying that swathes of speech did little to add to the story - but it's a graphic novel so the pictures explained quite alot. And to be honest...it just shows up how ignorant westerners are who's primary language is English are. Many Europeans are fluent in their own language, the languages of their neighbouring countries and English. So more a point of shame than annoyance. I'm happy to say the French towards the end wasn't a problem - so not a complete disaster.
So yeh - good book - good story - good illustration - some German - but not enough to give the book a miss altogether.
Great artwork as per usual but the story is spoilt by pages of conversation in german, also, I found this Nemo series to be short, basic and lacking in the intricate and complex plots that Alan Moore has produced in the past (from hell, watchmen, LOEG) A lot more could have been done with this character.