Wednesday, March 05, 2008
The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Vol. 1
By Alan Moore, 2002, from the library
You should know
I’ve never actually seen the movie; I’ve heard it wasn’t very good and don’t have a lot of interest in seeing it, though I am willing to check it out if someone were to recommend it highly enough.
I had heard very good things about the graphic novel, though, so I thought I’d check it out.
In the universe of The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, every character worth noticing is either an established literary character (typically from the public domain), or is strongly hinted to be related to one, as in the case of Campion Bond, who is suggested to be the grandfather of the still-very-much-copyrighted James Bond.
Our heroes (or antiheroes, or villains working with heroes, as you like) are Wilhelmina Murray, from Bram Stoker’s Dracula; Allan Quatermain from King Solomon's Mines and its sequels; Captain Nemo from Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea; Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde; and Hawley Griffin], the Invisible Man. They are gathered by Bond and Mycroft Holmes to stop the unnamed-due-to-copyright Fu Manchu from using a war machine to strike against the British Empire.
This volume seems to be designed primarily to introduce the main cast to the readers; some may not be familiar with all the characters, and others may not expect the twists the authors give to their old favorites.
The back of the book is filled with ads, puzzles, and serial stories designed to evoke the Victorian setting in which the graphic novel proper takes place. They’re definitely worth a look, but are by no means the main attraction.
Good… for grown-ups
I suspect the more familiar you are with the many, many sources of material, the more you’ll enjoy the story. I went in knowing a bit about most of the characters and nothing at all about a few, and there were none with which I was familiar in any kind of depth. I still enjoyed it, but I’m somewhat tempted to read some of the source material and then come back to the series (and read the sequels while I’m at it).
It’s definitely not appropriate for children, though. In fact…
A bit of advice
So. In case you missed the memo, comic books aren’t necessarily for kids anymore. I’d say this one absolutely is not for kids, in fact. Gory, graphic violence, including rape… parents, if your child has any interest in reading this book, please read it first so that you can decide if it’s appropriate, and so you can be prepared for any fallout.
Graphic novels are books. They are books with pictures, they are comic books, but they are, in fact, books. You wouldn’t let your child read every single book he or she picked up, and you probably shouldn’t. Don’t assume that graphic novels are any different just because there are pictures.
The rest of the Internet
The Wold Newton Universe is another case where pretty much any work of fiction you can think of in interrelated.
Jess Nevins et al collect notes and annotations on the comic. A good resource if you're reading the comic and just can't place that one guy...
Charles Prepolec at Baker Street Dozen gears his review of the comic to fans of Sherlock Holmes.
Awesome site of the week
Every morning, I read the comics. Some days, it's the only part of the newspaper I have time to read. I follow the serials and in some cases can recognize some pretty obscure characters; I smirk at the one-shots. There's about a half-doze Get Fuzzy strips on my computer that I fully intend to print out one of these days.
But that early in the morning, I just don't have the energy for snark; later, I don't feel like revisiting the same strips I read earlier that day. And let's face it: not every paper carries every strip.
That's where Josh, the Comics Curmudgeon, comes in. He, as the tagline puts it, reads the comics so you don't have to.
The comics may not always make you laugh, but Josh will. After all, this is the man who brought you Aldomania!