And of course there's all the accomplishments. He won nine of the first eighteen Eisner Awards for Best Writer. He popularized the use of literary techniques such as irony, symbolism, and whatnot in mainstream comics. He's written at least three game-changing books.
But the man is not infallible. In fact, I think sometimes, something gets lost in his mass of literary talent. Something primal. Something visceral.
But it's best if I use visual aids, so here I am presenting you with the Top 5 Most Disappointing Moments in Alan Moore Stories!
Honorable Mention: The Joker and Batman share a laugh
When It Happens: THE KILLING JOKE
What's the Deal? The entire story of THE KILLING JOKE hinges upon the idea that Batman and the Joker are polar opposites of each other, and that they'll end up killing each other if they don't find a way to make peace with each other. Aside from it not being the most innovative premise for a story, when Batman gets to the Joker at the end, the Clown Prince of Crime tells him a joke that perfectly summarizes their relationship. And the thing is, Batman laughs with him.
|Looking at it another way, I suppose Batman |
may be holding him for the cops.
This moment isn't really "disappointing" — it fits the (admittedly weak) theme of the story. But it is dumbfounding when you take context into account. The Joker had just shot Barbara Gordon and tortured Jim Gordon, and Batman's here, laughing at his joke. It gets even more dumbfounding when you think of future Batman/Joker stories — how can they possibly be taken seriously given this turn of events?
That Brian Bolland art is gorgeous, though.
5. Supreme wins... by accident
When It Happens: SUPREME: THE STORY OF THE YEAR
What's the Deal? Alan Moore, with artists Joe Bennett, Rick Veitch, and Chris Sprouse, have, at this point, spent 11 issues filling in Supreme's past and present, making him a true analogue to the Silver Age Superman. By the 12th issue, his Citadel Supreme (Fortress of Solitude) is brought under attack by Darius Dax (Lex Luthor), and he has to call on his friends Suprema (Supergirl) and The Allies (The Justice League) to help him out. Things take a turn for the worse when Dax acquires the body of Magno (Amazo).
So you basically think at this point that we're going to see how awesome Supreme is, right? Not really. Supreme basically chases him around and undoes whatever damage he does, but it's too late. Dax has gotten to the Supremium sample (Kryptonite, kinda) in the Citadel, and plans to merge with it, causing a big chain reaction that has him falling through time and becoming an inanimate piece of Supremium.
Trust me when I say that it makes sense when you read the whole thing. Again, it's appropriate to the themes and items established throughout the story. But damned if it's not missing that visceral feeling of awesomeness we'd have gotten if Supreme just punched Dax on the jaw.
4. The Martians lose to a virus
When It Happens: LEAGUE OF EXTRAORDINARY GENTLEMEN vol. 2
What's the Deal: The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen has to deal with a bunch of Martians. One of them, the Invisible Man, has already betrayed them. To act swiftly, their superiors send Mina Murray and Alan Quatermain to see Dr. Moreau (from The Island of...) and pick up one of his hybrids, which is supposedly their secret weapon against the Martians. Before they can release it, Edward Hyde goes nuts on the Martians and destroys some of them. And then he dies. And then the hybrid is released. What is it?
That's right. It's a virus. It leads to Nemo quitting (after doing practically nothing for the whole volume) and Murray taking a sabbatical. I'm sure Moore was making a point about biological warfare, but at this point in the story, something was calling for the Martian fleet to be socked in the metaphorical jaw.
3. Miracleman loses
When It Happens: MIRACLEMAN #2 and #15
What's the Deal? This is kind of a cheat because it happens twice, but in the first story arc of Miracleman, the protagonist finds out that his old sidekick, Kid Miracleman (who uses the word "Miracleman" to change between superpowered and non-superpowered forms), has turned evil. So they fight, and Kid Miracleman wins, only to be brought down by accidentally saying the magic word.
That's all well and good — Miracleman had just returned, after all — but 13 issues later, Kid Miracleman razes London and Miracleman has to stop him. He brings in some friends, such as Miraclewoman and a Warpsmith. The fight is long, violent, and awesome. But in the end, again, it's not Miracleman who stops him, kind of diluting the visceral part of the experience.
The thing is, it wouldn't have changed the story that much if he'd delivered the final sock to the jaw.
2. Swamp Thing talks down the ultimate evil
When It Happens: SWAMP THING: A MURDER OF CROWS
What's the Deal? In the epic story that both crosses over with CRISIS ON INFINITE EARTHS and introduces John Constantine, the Hellblazer, Swamp Thing has to go to hell to confront the primordial darkness, the thing that existed before God created light. It's one hell of a set-up, involving demons, angels, the Phantom Stranger, and the Spectre in the supernatural realms, and characters like Baron Winter, Sargon the Sorcerer, and Zatanna in the earthly realm. So basically, how does it end?
Well, Swamp Thing talks to it. That's it, really. The ultimate darkness talks to Etrigan the Demon, Dr. Fate, and the Spectre, trying to comprehend what evil is, and finally Swamp Thing gives it an acceptable answer, which is completely telegraphed and foreshadowed by the (excellent) "Parliament of Trees" story just a few issues before.
Moore was making a metaphysical point about the repetition of the good-versus-evil theme, and he made it well. But again, it lacks the visceral awesomeness of a sock to the jaw.
1. Robin saves the day
When It Happens: SUPERMAN: FOR THE MAN WHO HAS EVERYTHING
What's the Deal? This is the big one for me. It's Superman's birthday, and Batman, Robin, and Wonder Woman go visit him at the Fortress of Solitude only to find a plant called a Black Mercy attached to his chest. The Black Mercy places its victim in a dreamlike state in which his heart's desire is realized, so Superman is in a state in which Krypton never exploded. (But as a result, Jor-El went crazy and Kal never met Lois, so I'm not sure how this was his heart's desire to begin with.) The Warworld tyrant Mongul introduces himself as the man responsible for Superman's current situation, and Wonder Woman instantly takes to fighting him while Batman tries to get the Black Mercy off of Superman. And when he finally does, it's awesome.
Superman goes to fight Mongul, leading to perhaps the most badass Superman moment ever. Mongul says, "Happy birthday, Kryptonian. I give you oblivion." And Superman replies, "Burn."
And then they make it to the Krypton room, and Superman gets distracted and....
HE LOSES! And then Jason Todd saves him. JASON TODD.
Oh, sure, I get that he missed Krypton and that he got distracted and it was an emotional goodbye and everything, but seriously. JASON TODD. The lameness cannot be justified. At least when they adapted it for Justice League Unlimited almost twenty years later, they wisely had Wonder Woman recovering and doing the save. Also, that was a Justice League show, not a Superman show where you may expect, I dunno, Superman to land the final sock in the jaw.
In other words, Cubers, deep themes, nuance, irony, symbolism, metaphors, wordplay, and all that stuff is all fun and everything, but sometimes, just sometimes, there isn't a substitute for a good old-fashioned sock in the jaw.