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ALAN MOORE & KEVIN O'NEILL – THE LEAGUE OF EXTRAORDINARY GENTLEMEN  DC COMICS American Best

 

This is a wonderful and original graphic novel about a 19th century and strangely familiar group of X-men type superheroes drawn together to fight against a powerful cartel of supervillains. The heroes are an eclectic bunch, consisting of Allan Quartermain (King Solomon’s Mines), Lucy Harker (Bram Stker’s Dracula), The Invisible Man (H.G. Wells), and Dr. Jeckyl as well as Mr. Hyde (Robert Louis Stevenson). The real gem of an addition however is Captain Nemo, (Jiles Verne) complete with the Nautilus.  Nemo is presented as an Arabian Mariner as he was in Verne, not as the English James Mason Disney version of later creation. The villains of the piece are Fu Manchu and Moriarty (Sherlock Holmes having been sent to an English Concentration Camp). Various other literary figures make cameo appearances. The Detective from Edgar Allan Poe’s Murders In The Rue Morgue assists Quartermain in bringing Edward Hyde to book, and Ishmael, sole-survivor of Melville’s Moby Dick) is a crewman on the Nautilus. The conflict and interaction of the characters is terrific, and the action never lets up. The alliance is an uneasy one, given that the characters have a common heritage of being mavericks and difficult to work with. The Invisible Man is as mad as he ever was, and Hyde just as monstrous as always. Jeckyl comes across as a trembling time bomb, desperate not to transform into the monster once more, but he redeems himself in the end in both of his guises. The romp gets extremely explosive at times. A dire film version was produced recently which needlessly added Tom Sawyer to the mix and changed the chief villain from Fu Manchu to Dorian Grey, as well as making Lucy Harker an outright vampire in her own right. The best way to appreciate this story is in Moore’s original classic. A prose story of further adventure concludes the book and a graphic comic book sequel is available. (reviewed here) 

 

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Arthur Chappell

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