Graphic Novel Reviews

The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: Vol II

(2003) Alan Moore & Kevin O'Neill, America's Comics, 9.99 / Ca$22.95 / US$14.95, pbk, pp unnumbered, ISBN 1-401-20118-0


This is the paperback edition of the 2003 hardback of the 2002 and 2003 six-part comic series of The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen's second adventure: the paperback has only just (2004/5) reached many UK shops. First off, if you are new to the original League of Extraordinary Gentlemen graphic novel then be assured that it is far, far better than the Hollywood, and Hollywoodized, film that undermined (indeed changed) the characters and plot of the first volume. (Sends a shiver down me just thinking about it.) Second, before going further, you might want to read Tony's review of the first adventure...

(Ahhh, back again. That was quick. But then Tony was always fast... Though sometimes faster isn't better. Where were we? Oh, vol II...)

Here, in vol II, our heroes - Captain (20,000 Leagues Under the Sea) Nemo, Hawley (The Invisible Man) Griffin, Edward (Jekyll & Hyde) Hyde, Mina (Dracula) Murray, and Allan Quatermain (H Rider Haggard's protagonist) - return for another steampunk romp. The first book was very well researched with loads of Victorian references. Early on there is a newspaper headline proclaiming volcanoes spotted on Mars, then there was the adventure itself with everyone, including Holmes' Moriarty, after the Cavorite (as from H. G. Wells' First Men in the Moon), and it ended with an incidental meteor storm in the background. Here vol II begins... briefly on Mars before transferring to England.

Yes, vol II is a delightful new take on H. G. Wells' War of the Worlds with added SF dimensions. And that is all you are going to get out of me because I am not going to spoil this for you.

Oh, all right. You also get full page repros of the individual comic covers from the series, a page of spoof Victoriana adverts, a 20 page (or thereabouts) text story which is actually a collection of micro-shorts, The New Traveller's Almanac about previously unreported exploits of British secret agents overseas who encounter exotic phenomena such as cryptozoological species etc., a were-wolf Rupert the Bear colour-in drawing, and several pages of other magical whimsy. Simply delightful.

I do not care if you consider yourself to be primarily an SF book, TV, film, or comics fan. Such are the genre cross-references (well TV excepted maybe) The League of graphic novels can be enjoyed by virtually everyone into science fiction. So go on, treat yourself. The only downside is that you will realise what a bastardisation the film really was, but on the other you can revel in the sense-of-wonder from more than century-old, classic SF references and spectacle. Go for it.

Jonathan Cowie

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