By Leroy Douresseaux
April 12, 2009 - 09:41
|The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen Vol. III #1 cover image is courtesy of barnesandnoble.com.|
Alan Moore and Kevin O’Neill’s Victorian superheroes (who are also Victorian literary characters), The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, return for a new adventure. The League also has a new lease on life with a new publisher, Top Shelf Productions, who was kind enough to send us a black-and-white galley of The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Volume III: Century #1 (“1910”) for review.
Century finds the remainder of the League in the brave new world of the 20th century. Chapter 1, “What Keeps Mankind Alive,” is set in 1910 London, twelve years after the failed Martian invasion (depicted in Volume 2). The story opens in the bowels of the British Museum where the sleep of the ghost-finder Thomas Carnacki is troubled by dreams which reveal the conspiracy of a shadowy cult. As Britain prepares for the coronation of King George V, the cult, apparently led by the supposedly dead Oliver Haddo, is attempting to create something called a “Moonchild.” Far away on his South Atlantic base, Captain Nemo is dying, but his daughter, Janni, has rejected her inheritance and heads for London. Meanwhile, London’s most notorious serial (MacHeath or Mack the Knife) has also returned to ply his grisly trade on the London dockside.
Working for Mycroft Holmes’ British Intelligence, Mina Murray leads a new League, which includes the rejuvenated Allan Quatermain (who pretends to be Allan Quatermain, Jr.), the reformed thief Anthony Raffles, the eternal warrior Orlando (who can be male or female and claims that the sword he carries is Excalibur), and Carnacki. As Murray and the League rush to discover if there is indeed a conspiracy, ominous signs thrive and brutal forces converge on the excited city. And characters break out in song!
THE LOWDOWN: It’s probably been about eight years since I’ve read the original League miniseries, and I didn’t read the second series. I can honestly say that I enjoyed reading the first book of The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Volume III: Century as much if not more than I did the very first issue of the original series. What I enjoyed about Moore’s work here is how he treats each panel as an opportunity to create wonderful dialogue. More than just advancing the plot or establishing characters, the dialogue colors this peculiar series and gives it a wonderfully intoxicating flavor. I don’t know how else to say this: with every word balloon I read, I felt this story engaging my senses and coming alive in my mind. Hell, I even enjoyed the scenes in which the characters sang.
I’ve been a fan of Kevin O’Neill’s art since I first encountered him back in the mid-1980s, and I was crazy about Marshal Law. I liked his work in the original League series, but wasn’t crazy about it. Even without the color of this review copy, I still love how O’Neill visualizes Moore’s eccentricities. Like Moore’s vivacious dialogue, O’Neill’s beautiful art doesn’t merely visualize a world; it brings that world to life. He captures the personalities of the characters by utilizing every bit of them – facial features and expressions, costumes, posture, physicality, etc. I hope the color doesn’t steal the beauty I see here in glorious B&W.
POSSIBLE AUDIENCE: Alan Moore and Kevin O’Neill have created a strange magic with this first volume of The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Volume III: Century, and their fans of LoEG will want it.