The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Volume 1
Reviewed: August 26, 2003
By: Alan Moore
Publisher: America's Best Comics
192 pages, $24.95
Alan Moore is having mixed luck lately. On the one hand, two
of his graphic collaborations have been picked up for the silver screen.
On the other, the shooting scripts for the movies have born only a passing
resemblance to the original stories that the studies were so eager to snap
up and film. Itís odd.
This volume contains issues 1 to 6 of the serial graphic novel
The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. In an amusing homage to the era of
the pulp magazine, Moore and OíNeill have taken a clutch of 19th century
fictional characters and banded them together into a sort of proto-super
The dramatis personae include Alan Quartermain (from the book
of the same name), the Invisible Man (not the original fellow - he died),
Mr. Hyde (and Dr, Jeckyl, of course), Captain Nemo (from 20,000 Leagues Under
the Sea) and Mina Murray (from Dracula).
This team is not the first to make some artful connections in
this way. Philip Farmer did it years ago with Doc Savage and Tarzan, while
Fred Saberhagen had fun with Sherlock Holmes and Dracula. Moore does it with
a twist. of course.
Most of his male cast are sad shadows of the men they used to
be. In Mooreís vision it is Mina who is the sanest, most focussed member
of this group, who leads in the recruitment of most of the others and persuades
them of their mission, which is to stop the destruction of London.
(In the movie version it is Quartermain (played with much aplomb
by Sean Connery) who takes charge and keeps the others in line - just the
first of many changes in the story line. I enjoyed the movie well enough,
but I did end up wondering why they didnít just write their own story in
the first place.)
The resulting tale is a good romp through the popular literature
of the 19th century, ransacking the works of Edgar Allan Poe, H. Rider Haggard,
Jules Verne, H.G. Wells and Bram Stoker to good effect.
The film, by the way, not only departs from the story Moore and
OíNeill wrote, it is also considerably sanitized. This compilation is not
a childís comic book. Parental guidance is recommended.