"Harry Potter" is not for everyone. Some people do not like fun. Some people do not like magic. Some people do not like fun and magic together. I get it, and I accept it. Harry hate isn't something I'm into, but if that's your position, have a ball. You'll get no killing curses out of me.
But killing curses are flying, it seems, from the wand of Alan Moore.
The critically acclaimed and famously reclusive "Watchmen" writer is drawing a harder line against the boy wizard than even the staunchest "Potter" hater could dream up as the latest installment of Moore's "The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: Century 2009," out in stores Wednesday (June 20), features Harry Potter as the Antichrist. Well, almost, at least.
There's an undeniable resemblance between Potter and Moore's Antichrist. How startling are the similarities, you ask? Let's count the ways: Moore's character has a notable scar, a mentor named Riddle (the real last name of Potter's lifelong nemesis, Lord Voldemort) and travels to a magic school by way of a magic train hidden in King's Cross station, just like the Boy Who Lived. There is no mention of the words "Harry" or "Potter," but the result is clear: Moore has cast an analogue of J.K. Rowling's globally renowned hero as his very own Antichrist.
But don't start shipping Howlers off in Moore's direction just yet, "Potter" heads, at least not until you get the full meaning of what the writer is going for here.
In an early review of the new issue of "Century 2009," the Independent's Laura Sneddon analyzes Moore's choice as follows: "The headlines almost write themselves — 'Alan Moore says Harry Potter is the Antichrist!' — yet they miss the point. When the Antichrist is met, overgrown and high on anti-psychotics, raging at the education system that let him down and sounding peculiarly like Harry Enfield's teenage Kevin, he is surely no stand-in for one particular character but of the current obsession for replacing stories with money-generating franchises. Today, film rights are bought before publication, comics are written as storyboards, and teenage celebrities are given memoirs."
"What better representative of modern pop literature than J K Rowling's boy wizard?" Sneddon continues. "Moore's distaste for modern culture is made obvious, in keeping with his stance on the comics publishers he feels betrayed him."
Indeed, it certainly doesn't go unnoticed that "Potter" is a part of the Warner Bros. family, the very same company backing DC Comics' controversial "Before Watchmen" prequel series against Moore's wishes; turnabout is fair play, after all. Moore's choice of Potter as an Antichrist figure isn't necessarily directed at that character or franchise itself, then instead, he's using the most famous, most recognizable and most relevant face possible to get his anti-franchise point across the table.
Is Potter the best option to make such a point? At first, I didn't think so. Haters are going to hate, but the "Potter" books, if not excellently written, are compelling stories with compelling characters who have introduced new readers the entire world over to the fantastic realm of literature. The films, too, aren't just commercial juggernauts, but critically acclaimed ones boasting top-tier talents such as Ralph Fiennes, Alan Rickman, Michael Gambon — the list goes on and on and on. There is strong craftsmanship on display in the "Potter" series on numerous levels. Why target something that's actually good rather than, say, a series that hinges on hollow, vampire-obsessed protagonists? (Hate mail can be sent this way, FYI.)
But in truth, "Potter" doesn't end with the stories. The books are closed, the theaters are empty. (For now.) But there's a whole new wizarding world out there: theme parks, online encyclopedias, unofficial off-Broadway shows and countless other parodies, toys, candy, more. I wouldn't go as far as saying "Potter" replaces story with money-generating greediness, as Moore seems to believe. But there's no denying that "Potter" really is more than just a collection of books and films: It's a lifestyle, not just for fans, but for flesh-and-blood, real-world muggles who keep the Rowling-manufactured train rolling ahead full steam.
If you're looking for an instantly recognizable face to hang your broader anti-franchise sentiments upon, then? Well, I suppose you really don't need to look any further than Hogwarts' finest.
As a "Potter" fan, I don't like seeing Harry used as a symbol of what's wrong in the world today. I'd like to think that there are better examples out there. But if you're looking at what Moore's trying to say here, maybe there really isn't a better example for him to use. Harry isn't just the Boy Who Lived anymore, after all; he is, inarguably, the Boy Who Lived Luxuriously.
How do you feel about Moore's depiction of "Potter" in the latest "League of Extraordinary Gentlemen" comic? Give us your reactions in the comments below, or let me know on Twitter @roundhoward!