Friday, 6 April 2012

Review: The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Volume 2 by Alan Moore and Kevin O'Neill

Book cover for the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Volume 2 by Alan Moore and Kevin O'Neill
So hopefully you've all seen my League of Extraordinary Gentlemen Book Challenge by now, and maybe been inspired to pick up the graphic novel the movie was based on. But who knew that there was actually an entire series, written by Alan Moore and following the adventures of the same League characters? This one here is the sequel - The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen Vol. 2, but there's also another two to get hold of afterwards.

I was inspired to read this by my Random Reads pick, hosted by I'm Loving Books.

Plot summary - Critically-acclaimed writer Alan Moore (Watchmen, V For Vendetta) and award-winning artist Kevin O'Neill (Marshal Law) once more work their alchemy, mixing legend, myth, literature and pulp fantasy into the volatile cocktail that is the fantastic second volume of The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen! When alien invaders find they no longer have use for Mars, they set their many eyes upon a new blue-green prize: Earth, Soon, giant cylinders are falling across the planet, from which emerges an invasion force of unstoppable tripodal nightmares! Also included is an almanac of fantastic places that spans the entire globe, as well as special supplemental material not found in the original comics. Warning: Adult content! 

I didn't expect the sequel to follow the adventures of the same League, although I'm not really sure why. Well, the same League minus Dorian Gray and Tom Sawyer. They weren't actually in the first comic book - just added to the film at a later date. Anyway, Volume 2 revolves around Allan Quatermain, Mina Harker, Dr. Jekyll/ Mr. Hyde, Captain Nemo and Hawley Griffin (the Invisible Man) fighting against the planned alien invasion of Earth. 

Just as in Volume 1, there's a nod to all kinds of classic works. James Bond has a larger part in this book, and there are large influences from The Island of Dr Moreau and The War of the Worlds, among others. I love this aspect- it's what keeps me hooked on this series and Jasper Fforde's The Eyre Affair books. You either feel like you already know the characters, or it prompts you to get the classics read - either way, you win.

I have to admit that I preferred the first graphic novel though - I've never been a massive fan of aliens, even if they were created by H.G. Wells. It doesn't help that if you've read The War of the Worlds you already know the ending, although there's a slight twist to bring in references to other books..

The characters are more amusing than in the movie. Hyde in particular doesn't mince his words with his short temper and prejudice against pretty much everybody. But still, as anybody who's sat anywhere even slightly near me while watching the film version will know, it annoys me beyond belief that Hyde isn't anything like he is in the Robert Louis Stevenson book. He's too nice, too helpful - the original character would never do anything to benefit anybody else. I also found Allan Quatermain to be slightly, I don't know... weak, and it irritated me a little. He seems to be almost scared a lot of the time, which doesn't fit with the character we know from King Solomon's Mines. I've listed the books that the characters originally hail from on The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen book challenge page.

Okay, so... wow. There's an adult rating for a reason. There's some pretty damn gratuitous sex in here and it's not hidden behind convenient lampshades or wine glasses. There's more than one sex scene between a pretty odd coupling so I really don't advise letting your ten year old son who loved the film read this. I have to admit that the romantic subplot seemed really out of place - it just didn't fit somehow and it came from nowhere.

The artwork is perfect - just detailed enough to tell a story, but not enough to overwhelm those not used to graphic novels. I found the first few pages a little hard to follow as we're dropped straight into the path of the invasion but it becomes perfectly understandable when the League put in an appearance.

In short, I really did enjoy this. It's a lot darker and more brutal than the movie, so it really, really isn't for children. But if you love the mix-up of characters and a dark, gritty atmosphere, this is a great graphic novel to pick up.

Follow the link to read Nylon Admiral's review of The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: Volume 1.

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