The Original League of Extraordinary Gentlemen

“The British Empire has always encountered difficulty in distinguishing between its heroes and its monsters.”

Alan Moore brings together several of Victorian England’s most popular monsters in service to the crown.

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Book cover for The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: Collected Edition Book One by Alan Moore and Kevin O'Neill

TITLE:

THE LEAGUE OF EXTRAORDINARY GENTLEMEN: COLLECTED EDITION BOOK ONE

WRITER:

by Alan Moore

ARTISTS:

by Kevin O’Neill (illustrator)

SERIES:

The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen #1
Collects The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen comics vol. 1 #1-6

PUBLISHER:

America’s Best Comics

GENRE:

Graphic Novel (collection), Horror, Adventure, Historical

DESCRIPTORS:

Heroes, Monsters, Saving the World, Victorian Europe, Betrayal, Trust, Weird Science,

SUMMARY:

Champion Bond, an agent of the mysterious “M”, gets newly divorced Mina Murray and the science-pirate Captain Nemo to gather the aging adventurer Allan Quartermain, Dr. Henry Jekyll and larger, hideously powerful Mr. Edward Hyde and the sociopath Hawley Griffin to form the latest incarnation of the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen.

The British government brought them together to retrieve a light than air element called cavorite, believed to have fallen into the hands of “the Doctor” who plans to use it in a bid for world domination.

Contentious and in many turns dangerously untrustworthy, these “monsters” are forced to work together in order to complete their mission — and survive the day.

But even if they succeed, there are unseen forces at work that threaten to turn their victory into a catastrophic tragedy.

WHY I LIKED IT:

Fans of Alan Moore and Neil Gaiman’s comics will enjoy this. Moore usually writes comics a notch or two above average and his best stuff is many notches above that. This story is outstanding work.

One fascinating aspect of this story is that Alan Moore went back to the original sources for his work — Captain Nemo is a Sikh and the world’s first eco-terrorist, Allan is a drug-addict, and so on.

The things he changed, he explained or at least pointed out that he was aware of the difference — such as Mr. Hyde’s tremendous size when originally he was shorter than Henry Jekyll. He also explained away supposed deaths.

This work is fairly easy reading despite its Victorian feel in word craft, pictures and events. The story ends by the end of the book but readily paves the way for a sequel. The illustrations are stylistic and a little difficult to understand in spots but shouldn’t prevent enjoyment of the story. Once I got comfortable with Kevin O’Neill’s art, I found it very enjoyable and atmospheric.

At the end of the book is an Allan Quartermain story in 6 parts titled “Allan and the Sundered Veil”, a sort of H. Rider Haggard pastiche, about Allan after faking his death. It has loose ties to the main story but is not required reading.

NOTES:

The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen is the 2000 Bram Stoker Award winner for Superior Achievement for an Illustrated Narrative and was nominated for the 2000 IHG Award Recognizing Outstanding Achievement for an Illustrated Narrative

READALIKES:

No one writes like Alan Moore and even he changes his own style for different projects. Two features of his writing that remains fairly consistent — he is a very literate writer and he pushes the boundaries of the medium (comic books and graphic novels) that he works in. In that respect he is very much like Neil Gaiman and Frank Miller.

One aspect of this graphic novel is the embracing of monsters or the celebration of the monstrous which are themes that can be found in Alan Moore’s V for Vendetta, and Clive Barker’s Books of Blood vol. 1-3.

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