Alan Moore
Albion
Medium: comic
Year: 2005
Writer: Alan Moore, Leah Moore, John Reppion.
Artist: Shane Oakley, George Freeman
Format: Six 22-page episodes
Website category: Other
Review date: 17 February 2021
Plot: Alan Moore.
Script: Alan's daughter Leah and her husband, John Reppion.
Art: Shane Oakley (whose idea the whole thing had been) and George Freeman.
Characters: the mental, long-deceased UK comics industry of the 1960s. They're freaky. They don't have superpowers... well, except for the ones that do. That would be more comprehensible. They're just odd. They're mechanical brains who can predict the future, or supervillains who turned hero because that was more entertaining, or children's comic characters created by Ken Reid during his later, grotesque phase. Captain Hurricane isn't a terrifying insane patriotic monster because of superpowers, but simply because he's a terrifying insane patriotic monster. Their weirdness comes from themselves.
There's a double-page spread in the last issue that sums it up:
"Don't let the rubber men and ray guns overwhelm you, Eagle Eye. Don't be afraid of these wonderful freaks. Instead revel in them... revel in their absurdity, in their power. They are us at our bravest and best!"
Very little happens for most of the mini-series. Those 1960s comics characters have been rounded up and are living in an institution. You could call it a prison camp if you wanted. The characters on the outside are a lout called Danny who likes comics but thinks they're all fictional and a girl called Penny who knows better and has a famous grandfather. (She also has access to what looks like a frozen Cyberman, although she either can't revive it or has wisely decided not to.)
You're waiting. Something will happen. It must, surely. You meet the people in this prison, some of whom are HOLY SHIT, the Spider. Wow, that guy. The story plays games with the real comics industry, with creators (and friends of Alan Moore) appearing as characters and flashbacks being drawn in the style of different old comics.
Then, the last episode tops your expectations.
I love it. I want more from these characters. It's drab and dour for much of its running time, mind you. The basic premise is a little off-putting, with all of these heroes having been hunted down, locked away and forgotten. I got over that, though. Alan Moore was doing quite a lot of this kind of resurrection of old characters at the time, c.f. League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Lost Girls, pretty much everything from America's Best Comics, etc. This might be the most valuable of them, though, given the gap between how little these characters are remembered today and how fascinating and deranged they are. For me, Albion was an education.