Nemo vol. 3: River of Ghosts sees us leap forward to the 1970s where an ageing Janni is on a mission to South America in order to finally track down and thwart her immortal enemy Ayesha, accompanied by a burly Irish bodyguard, her runaway grandson, and the ghosts of her late husband and crew. But will this final journey be a fitting end for the daughter of the great captain Nemo.
Publisher: Top Shelf Digital/Knockabout
Writer: Alan Moore
Artist: Kevin O’Neill
Price: £3.99/$6.99 from Sequential
Compared to previous entries in the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen canon, where you spend most of time playing ‘guess-the-literary-reference-and-subtext’, Nemo vol. 3: River of Ghosts is a remarkably straight forward tale for this most complex of universes. It focuses on the final mission of Captain Nemo’s daughter Janni and her search for revenge against the immortal Ayesha, who we’d previously seen separated from her head in vol. 2. Embarking on an expedition to the south American jungle with her enigmatic bodyguard and stowaway grandson in tow, Janni’s adventures in River of Ghosts make for a much more satisfying read than previous entries thanks to the lack of extraneous characters and a genuinely emotional central story, .
For fans of the series who relish the intellectual challenge of ‘spot the reference’ don’t worry, as there are still plenty to get your teeth into as Moore fills this chapter with more than enough obscure characters plucked from the recesses of his encyclopaedic brain. From the enigmatic Hugo Coghlan/Cúchulainn /Hercules (a prototype all American hero mixed with an Irish demigod and a tangible link to a Cow Pie eating stalwart of UK weekly comics – who we’d love to see get his own series!) through to the more esoteric Dr Goldfoot and his Bikinitrons. Artist Kevin O Neill is clearly relishing the chance to draw them, with double page spreads full of swooping pteradons in Maple White Land, Nazi/Inca temples, or a colony of Creatures from the Black Lagoon as well as all the usual nazis killer robots and super submarines, this series has never looked better.
It’s worth mentioning at this point how refreshing it is to read a book with a kick ass female heroine, who doesn’t need a tiny waist and giant boobs to succeed. Even in her twilight years Janni would be the match for any other female comic character around and it’s great to read such an intelligent portrayal of a strong woman beating men and facing off against other powerful women!). And what’s even better is that she is just as potent at an advanced age as she was in her youth!
All of which brings this wonderful trilogy to a fine conclusion with a suitably emotive ending. This is in stark contrast to the League of Extraorindary Gentlemen trilogy Century, which ended up with a rather surreal and empty feeling conclusion set in the present day of 2005. By contrast, Nemo has succeeded where Century failed because it has not become bogged down with other people’s mythology. Instead it focuses on its own, creating a superbly self contained story that still works well within the greater league universe. There are still the references and links to other characters, but they are of secondary importance in River of Ghosts. Janni and her family are the focus, and that’s how it should be. As a result it gives the reader a much more satisfying conclusion to this very accomplished series.