The Last War in Albion Book Two: Introduction


Before we start, there's a new podcast featuring an interview with me by James Wylder up. It's a nice, lengthy chat about occultism, Recursive Occlusion, Gamergate, and all sorts of other stuff. It's in two parts, the first a bit over an hour long, the second a nice solid ninety minutes. Part one. Part two.

Right, so, you may have noticed that we, at long last, reached the end of Book One of The Last War in Albion last Friday, which means that we're finally going to start Book Two tomorrow. And that seemed like a good time to take a breath, recap events, and give some explanation for what's coming up next.

First off, if you've not been following The Last War in Albion, or have fallen behind, this is, as they say in comics, a great jumping on point. So, let's recap. 

The Last War in Albion is a history of British comic books told through the lens of the magical war between Alan Moore and Grant Morrison. It's epic, sweeping, and although the story it tells starts in 1979, frequently dips into the history of Britain and of comics to paint a fuller picture of what's going on. Individual chapters are in turn cut, with wry arbitrariness, into two-thousand word chunks, which are serialized weekly. A user's guide can be found here.

Book One concerned the early careers of both Moore and Morrison, from 1979-86. Mostly it's about Moore, since he was the more prolific in that period. Here's the recap I've got in the omnibus of the next chapter:

In 1979, two men got their starts in the British comics industry. One, a young Scotsman named Grant Morrison, largely sunk without a trace, writing only a few short stories for a failed magazine called Near Myths, a local newspaper strip, and a couple of sci-fi adventurers for DC Thomson’s Starblazer, a magazine renowned for only ever giving the editorial note “more space combat.”
The other, a decade older man from Northampton named Alan Moore, steadily worked his way from some low rent gigs writing and drawing his own strips to a career in the mainstream British industry, pulling together a living writing disposable short stories for 2000 AD, superheroes for Marvel UK, and low-selling but critically acclaimed work like V for Vendetta for Dez Skinn’s Warrior, before making the jump to American comics to try to salvage the failing title Swamp Thing, which he did in spades, taking it from a book on the brink of cancellation to one of DC Comics’s crown jewels.
Meanwhile, Morrison, having largely failed in his goal of being a rock star, and inspired by Moore’s work, particularly his postmodernist superhero tale Marvelman in Warrior, got back into comics, following the trajectory of Moore’s early career by securing a strip in Warrior (unfortunately for Morrison, his first appearance was Warrior’s last issue) and beginning to write short stories for 2000 AD.
In 1986, DC Comics published the first issue of Watchmen, a new superhero series from Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons.
The result was the outbreak of the last great magical war in Albion.
As you might imagine from that, Book Two is going to concern Watchmen. As you might imagine, that requires a different take. It's not a straightforward analysis of Watchmen that goes from influences to consequences. Instead it looks at Watchmen as the first major battle of the War - a complex and multilayered event where cause and effect are not always entirely straightforward.

Past that, it consciously shares its structure with Watchmen. To this end, there's a new formal device for Book Two - some paragraphs will have uncaptioned images of single panels from Watchmen accompanying them. This marks a point where the two texts are meant to be explicitly paralleled. Each chapter will coincide with an issue of Watchmen, although this does not mean that the chapters are about their corresponding issues as such; rather, it means that the storytelling approaches of the issues inform the critical approaches of the chapters.

Given this, the nature of these parallels varies. Sometimes they related to large thematic elements - major characters, for instance, explicitly match up to larger concepts in the book and in the War. Other times they match up because of a shared phrase or image within the panel and paragraph, or for entirely esoteric reasons. The specific nature of any parallel is left as an exercise for the reader.

Unlike with Book One, which was written on the assumption that nobody could possibly have read everything under discussion, Book Two generally assumes that you've at least read Watchmen once, although it does not require any specialist knowledge of the book. 

If you're a Patreon backer at $2 or higher or a Kickstarter backer at the appropriate tier, you'll find links to the full version of Book Two, Chapter One there. Otherwise, the first part goes up tomorrow.

Finally, if I may be so forward, linking the hell out of tomorrow's post would be appreciated. It is, as I said, a good jumping on point for Last War in Albion, both because it's a clean start and because it's tackling a big, well-known subject of interest to rather more people than, for instance, The Bojeffries Saga or Skizz might have been. 

See you tomorrow.


Scurra 5 years, 7 months ago

Should that not be "largely sank without a trace" rather than "sunk"?
(If you remove the bit about Morrison, the sentence would read "One largely sunk without trace" which sounds wrong - to me, at least!)

Looking forward to this chapter immensely.

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ferret 5 years, 7 months ago

"Looking forward to this chapter immensely" EXACTLY the sentence I clicked through to comment!

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Chicanery 5 years, 7 months ago

Will you be covering Before Watchmen, the Absolute recolour, or the Zack Snyder movie? Or are you trying to forget that stuff happened like the rest of us?

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Daru 5 years, 7 months ago

Sooo looking forwards to this! I even dug some of my old comic collection out of my parent's attic partly so I could retrieve my copy of Watchmen.

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Aaron 5 years, 7 months ago

Quick question- this isn't a badgering "you should be writing this" sort of post, but I'm curious what happened to the Super Nintendo Project. I was really enjoying it, but it stopped abruptly. Was there an announcement somewhere?

Maybe you only announced it to your backers, which is fair enough. I don't use patreon simply because I really hate the idea of a month to month payment. But if there's any way I can just drop you $20 all in one go and set an alarm for six months or so, please point me to it?

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Aylwin 5 years, 7 months ago

It's in the Patreon slot, which means it will resume after Brief Treatise on the Rules of Thrones season 2 ends (meaning, presumably, from Monday 3 August). It will then rotate out again after the new Doctor Who season starts (5 September), when episode reviews will take over, unless people put enough money in the meter to keep them both going at the same time.

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Elizabeth Sandifer 5 years, 7 months ago

What Aylwin said. It'll be back with Lemmings on August 3rd.

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Elizabeth Sandifer 5 years, 7 months ago

These things are part of how I'm getting twelve chapters out of the book.

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timber-munki 5 years, 7 months ago

Also the motion comic, and Warner Bros decision to get one actor, Tom Stechschulte to do all the voices, both male & female which comes across as quite cheap for a multinational media conglomerate's dealings with one of their most prestigeous properties (although it does include a new piece of Gibbons art, of the Minute Men IIRC)

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Elizabeth Sandifer 5 years, 7 months ago

I would not bet on that one.

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prandeamus 5 years, 7 months ago

You had me at "lemmings".

As an aside, can I vote for a future Who story that involves our hero crushing pointless advertising fakes? We could call it "The Spambots of Doom". And of course, Phil, I realise you can't do much to stop them.

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Matthew Blanchette 5 years, 7 months ago

...and yet we are to bet on Snyder? Quite the sucker-punch to completeness, you've got there.

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Elizabeth Sandifer 5 years, 7 months ago

Snyder's film is interesting in its flaws.

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