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The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Volume One

Volume I of Alan Moore and Kevin O'Neill's graphic novel that brings together literary characters from different classics.

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Satisfying Romp For The Justice League of Britannia

  • Mar 16, 2008
Rating:
+3
Great literary characters have a tendency to outlive their mortal creators, by finding second and third lives in cultures far removed from those which created them. Here, in the first volume of a collection of graphic novels, a quintet of Victorian-era protagonists are enjoyably thrust into the late-20th-century medium of the comic book.

It is 1898. Mina Murray, heroine of "Dracula" with her maiden name reassumed, is charged to assemble a team of social miscreants whose skills are badly needed by the British Empire, confronting a mysterious menace from within. Captain Nemo (Jules Verne's "20,000 Leagues Under The Sea") brings his submarine "Nautilus", while Robert Louis Stevenson's Dr. Henry Jekyll contributes his unrestrained alter-ego Mr. Hyde. H.G. Wells' "Invisible Man" is somewhere on hand, too, and then there's Allan Quatermain, legendary African explorer from the H. Rider Haggard stories.

One of the most notable aspects of this book, a collection of six sequentially-issued comic books published in 2000, is its treatment of Quatermain, least notable of the main characters, as its central figure. Aged, strung out from drugs, somewhat blinkered in his attitudes, he represents the guiding spirit of the era in all its good and bad ways and something of a pin cushion for writer Alan Moore's modernist barbs. At the same time, underneath the action and bloodshed, it is Quatermain's redemption as a full-blooded hero that propels this story out from the chapbook and comics milieu it cheerfully inhabits.

Between the chapter sections lie warnings of what lies ahead: "Mothers of sensitive or neurasthenic children may wish to examine the contents before passing it on to their little one, removing those pages which they consider to be unsuitable." Moore is described in a brief bio, written in the same tone, as the author of such prior works as "A Child's Garden of Venereal Horrors" and "Cocaine and Rowing: The Sure Way to Health."

There is some truth to the warning regarding sensitive offspring. Though it plays with the idea of being a Boy's Own Adventure, it in fact is a graphic novel in more ways than one. The first two chapters alone contain three rape attempts, and the one that may have been successful (as well as statutory) is played for a devilish laugh. People don't just die in "League of Extraordinary Gentlemen", they are ripped limb from limb, or have their brains bashed out.

Icky, yes, but Moore and artist Kevin O'Neill earn your indulgence for the intelligent way such R-rated liberties expand and intensify an immersive storyline. More problematic for me was the central conflict, which seems to serve no purpose except to facilitate some corker artwork of London's East End under airship attack.

Still, it is a visual treat, here, there, and everywhere, using the England of 100 years before as a kind of launching pad for trippy phantasmagorias. Moore plays with the conventions of the Victorian era, but he also respects them in a curious way. His combination of historical attentiveness, wit, and (especially in the chapbook supplement "Allan and the Sundered Evil") facility with period language makes for a splendid tale well told. Wells and Stevenson would be impressed.

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More The League of Extraordinary Ge... reviews
review by . May 29, 2010
THE LEAGUE OF EXTRAORDINARY GENTLEMEN, VOL 1 is a graphic novel. It is most assuredly not a comic book intended for children. Rather it is solid proof that mainstream comic books can be combined with exciting, imaginative adventure and story-telling, illustrated with serious, skilled artwork that merits close examination in each and every panel aimed at serious adult readers with eclectic tastes in classic literature. THE LEAGUE OF EXTRAORDINARY GENTLEMEN, VOL1 is at once a pastiche and a tribute …
review by . October 24, 2010
For those who think that reading comic books are a waste of time and that graphic novels aren't anywhere near real literature, this is one comic you should check out and which maybe even change your mind. The illustrations are amazing, capturing the essence of the time period in which the story takes place. The story is written by the great Alan Moore (what more needs to be said), so the plot is intense; the action fierce; and the characters fully developed. That in itself is enough to purchase …
Quick Tip by . December 18, 2010
Solid proof that mainstream comic books can be combined with exciting, imaginative adventure and story-telling, illustrated with serious, skilled artwork.
review by . October 14, 2010
For those who think that reading comic books are a waste of time and that graphic novels aren't anywhere near real literature, this is one comic you should check out and which maybe even change your mind. The illustrations are amazing, capturing the essence of the time period in which the story takes place. The story is written by the great Alan Moore (what more needs to be said), so the plot is intense; the action fierce; and the characters fully developed. That in itself is enough to purchase …
review by . July 22, 2003
The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen is an utterly delightful book. In it, writer Alan Moore assembles a superhero team of a completely different sort, drawing on British literary figures of the late 1800s. Writing in a style reminiscent of that era, Moore has crafted a superb story that stands with the classics of adventure, science fiction and a bit of the grotesque.Some people might be completely lost after reading pages where the only text is dialogue in Arabic, Chinese or French -- but the …
review by . February 17, 2003
For those who think that reading comic books are a waste of time and that graphic novels aren't anywhere near real literature, this is one comic you should check out and which maybe even change your mind. The illustrations are amazing, capturing the essence of the time period in which the story takes place. The story is written by the great Alan Moore (what more needs to be said), so the plot is intense; the action fierce; and the characters fully developed. That in itself is enough to purchase …
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Bill Slocum ()
Ranked #301
Reading is my way of eavesdropping on a thousand conversations, meeting hundreds of new and fascinating people, and discovering what it is about the world I enjoy most. Only after a while, I lose track … more
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Wiki

(from Wikipedia)
The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen is a comic book series written by Alan Moore and illustrated by Kevin O'Neill, published beginning in 1999. The series spans two six-issue limited series and a graphic novel from the America's Best Comics imprint of Wildstorm/DC, and a third miniseries published by Top Shelf and Knockabout Comics. According to Moore, the concept behind the series was initially a "Justice League of Victorian England" but quickly grew into an opportunity to merge all works of fiction into one world. Says Moore: "The planet of the imagination is as old as we are. It has been humanity's constant companion with all of its fictional locations, like Mount Olympus and the gods, and since we first came down from the trees, basically. It seems very important, otherwise, we wouldn't have it." Moore and O'Neill have revealed that they plan to map out many different eras in the League series with Allan Quatermain and Mina Murray being the two constants.
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Details

Author: Alan Moore, Kevin O'Neill
Genre: Comics & Graphic Novels, Historical Fantasy, Steampunk, Alternative Histories
Publisher: DC Comics, Wildstorm, America's Best Comics (ABC)
Date Published: March 1999 - September 2000
Format: Graphic Novel
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