Years ago, I read the first volume of Alan Moore and [an artist whose name I’ll look up and add in later]’s kinda long running series, The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen.
If you’ve never heard of it – though you probably have if you’re reading this, you square 😘😘😘 – it’s basically mainstream fan-fiction.
Moore and [an artist whose name I’ll look up and add in later] take famous figures from 19th century literature (and other) and have them band together to fight a common enemy. Here, we have Mr Hyde (of Dr Jekyll fame), Mina Harker (off of Dracula), the non-Ralph Ellison Invisible Man, the lead character from King Solomon’s Mines (never read it) and a hyper intelligent submariner pirate adventurer, all hired by Mycroft Holmes to help stop the terrifying invasion of three legged giant robots from Mars.
Like in The War of the Worlds.
The narrative is pretty straightforward tbh.
There are lots of literary and historical allusions that I recognised and, I’m sure, many that I missed. There’s betrayal and peril and heroic self sacrifice, there’s fucking and fighting and plot twists; it’s a silly, though, literary, tribute to the evolution of the English novel.
Ok, it’s time for me to go to bed. Will type more tomorrow.
Ok, it’s now almost 24 hours later.
With that, my time inside this middling comic book gets further and further away from me, into the distant past of last week.
Now I am waiting for a tram. Luckily, I am inside.
The comic book was enjoyable, yes, but the bit of it that was most fun was the prose section at its end, which was similar to the illustrated sections in that it rewrote stories from novels and folklore, but this time rather than as the material of a frothy adventure comic, it was as part of a faux travelogue from the first half of the 20th century, pertaining to mysterious, mythical and (in real life) knowingly fictional parts of the world.
It is told geographically and partially chronologically, using multiple “historic” versions of the titular League of Extraordinary Gentlemen as notetakers and explorers. There are Mina Harker and the fella from King Solomon’s Mines, travelling in the aftermath of the events of the main part of the book, there is an early 17th century crew led by Shakespeare’s Prospero, there’s mid to late 19th century ships logs from the submariner guy from before, and there is too a character who occurs throughout all these disparate times and places: the Orlando from Virginia Woolf’s Orlando: a near immortal, gender changing globetrotter possessed of magical secrets that are satisfyingly – and pleasingly vaguely – revealed by the end of the piece.
I’m still waiting for this tram and my feet are cold because it’s snowing and I’m not wearing snow boots and I’m going to get a pizza on the way home and maybe some wine no not some wine there’s no wine shop remotely en route other than the shop that exclusively sells Canadian wine, which is not worth my time or money.
I don’t have much more to say about this book. I’m ineloquent.
No, that’s not it, I’m just not very enthusiastic about The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen Vol II.
It is a distinctly mediocre text, at least within the scope of things that I engage with.
Mediocre doesn’t mean shit: if something is shit one can write a lot about it: how it is shit, why it is shit, what it could have done differently to not be shit… similarly the same things can be said for things that are spectacular: how, why, where it nearly tripped but didn’t, y’know.
This book, though, achieves the things it sets out to do. But the things it sets out to do are frivolous, are unimportant. It doesn’t matter.
In this text, Alan Moore and [an artist whose name I’ll look up and add in later] collaborate on a playful piece of genre fiction that alludes to high and low art from across the past few centuries, most of it with a Western/European bias.
It is fine. No more. Arguably less.
This is a book about stories, not about art; it’s about aliens, not about humanity; it’s about excitement, not about emotion. Is it impressive and enjoyable and clearly the product of creative effort? Yes, but is it elevated?
Ok, the tram is here.
It’s now a third day and I checked the post I wrote about the first volume of this that I’d read and it turned out it was an omnibus containing Volume II as well as Volume I.
I have no memory of having read this story before, lol.
This kinda proves my point about it being unremarkable.
Then again, I did read in it 2015, which was one of the years of adulthood I had a full time job in and it was just after I shaved my head, so maybe I understandably forgot it amongst the horror the horror the horror of life.