30 in 30 - Day 26: LoEG - Nemo: The Roses of Berlin / by Frank Gogol


Following up on yesterday’s Nemo: Heart of Ice, I read the second installment of the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen Nemo Trilogy—The Roses of Berlin. While this installment felt steeped in literature that I was less familiar with than Heart of Ice, it read more smoothly and was more enjoyable.


Title: LoEG - Nemo: The Roses of Berlin
Storytellers: Alan Moore & Kevin O’Neill
Publisher: Top Shelf Comics
Year of Publication: 2014
Page Count: 56

Sixteen years ago, notorious science-brigand Janni Nemo journeyed into the frozen reaches of Antarctica to resolve her father's weighty legacy in a storm of madness and loss, barely escaping with her Nautilus and her life. Now it is 1941, and with her daughter strategically married into the family of aerial warlord Jean Robur, Janni's raiders have only limited contact with the military might of the clownish German-Tomanian dictator Adenoid Hynkel. But when the pirate queen learns that her loved ones are held hostage in the nightmarish Berlin, she has no choice save to intervene directly, travelling with her ageing lover Broad Arrow Jack into the belly of the beastly metropolis. Within that alienated city await monsters, criminals, and legends, including the remaining vestiges of Germany’s notorious ‘Twilight Heroes’, a dark Teutonic counterpart to Mina Murray’s League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. And waiting at the far end of this gauntlet of alarming adversaries there is something much, much worse.


What I learned about Comic Book Storytelling in Writing

After the penultimate set-piece reintroduces Ayesha (one of the antagonists from Heart of Ice) Moore splits the narrative two ways. Over a sequence of pages, he alternates panels between Ayesha and Janni, showing how each reacts to the previous scene and how they each move forward. It’s an interesting choice that visually lends each character the same narrative weight, setting them up as foils. The two narratives dovetail back together when the women finally come to blows during the climax. The effect, again, is that the two characters are, without it being said, made to be equals visually and narratively.

What I learned about Comic Book Storytelling in Art

O’Neill, a master storyteller, understands the rules. Yesterday, I wrote about his two-page spreads and how they exemplify his understanding of the rules them out. In The Roses of Berlin, though, O’Neill draws a two-page spread that stacks panels on the left, breaking convention. The layout is three stacked panels on each side of the spread, connected by one large central image. The spread works because the stack panels are so widely separated by the central image that there’s no chance of confusing the panel order. O’Neill understands the rules of what makes a comic page work, and because of that he can bend and break the rules effectively.

Recommendation: B (Worth a Read)

Check back tomorrow when for part 3 of my Nemo Trilogy read-through—LoEG – Nemo: River of Ghosts.

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