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 to the skills of an extraordinary, lengthy and almost bewildering list of adventure, mystery and horror writers of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries.
Under order from the mysterious "M", the director of MI5, Britain's intelligence service, Campion Bond has recruited a team of adventurers and spies best known for their ability to get the job done in the face of daunting opposition and insurmountable obstacles. The team consists of Mina Murray, Allan Quatermain, Captain Nemo, Henry Jekyll, Edward Hyde and HG Well's invisible man, Hawley Griffin. Their task, as they understand it, is to locate and recover a container of the anti-gravity compound, Cavorite, before the nefarious Dr Fu Manchu can use it to launch an airship and attack the city of London. But, all is never as it seems, and as challenging as this assignment is, it represents only the beginning of the horrors and the difficulties that Mina Murray and her League of Extraordinary Gentlemen will face in their race to save Victorian London from devastating destruction.
Moore's borrowed cast of characters leaps off the page and into life under the skilled artistry of Kevin O'Neill. But alert readers will quickly discover that it doesn't end with this short list of main players and will delight in scavenging for even the most fleeting references to an almost endless list of literary luminaries - Sherlock and Mycroft Holmes, Dorian Gray, James Moriarty and Sebastian Moran, Auguste Dupin, Selwyn Cavor, Jack the Ripper, Jack Harkaway, Ishmael, Samuel Ferguson, the Artful Dodger ... the list just goes on and on!
Be advised. Readers who consider themselves to be faint of heart should know that Kevin O'Neill has given himself full permission to display violence, fighting, bloodletting and death in the most graphic fashion. But this is far from a criticism, it is only a caution in the full understanding that some potential readers will simply not enjoy the degree to which O'Neill has visually let loose the free flow of blood and guts. Thankfully, I am not on that list and can say that I enjoyed every single word and every single illustration immensely. I'm only sorry to realize that there are only two volumes left in the series which I will be purchasing just as soon as I finish this review.
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