Sep 14, 2010

[Comics] The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen - Volume 2

The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen - Volume 2If something works, then don't break it right? That's sort of the Hollywood philosophy these days that drives sequels upon sequels along with remakes and reimaginations, more or less. And it makes me sick to my stomach to consider the fact that this remake trend and general death of continuing creativity isn't going to end very soon.

But there are cases that when we clamor for more, we just might get exactly what we wanted. Not a cheap addition to a franchise. It's not a lame ass pale imitation of the original. No, sometimes we get an honest to god item of value that really makes the geeky world all the more enriched and definitely better.

I definitely think this is one of the better examples of the latter and not the former. It definitely helped that things deeply involved the classical worlds of science fiction from the Victorian era. Plus it all came together so well in a manner that didn't at all feel forced.

The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen - Volume 2 brings us back amidst the adventures of one of the world's first superhero teams as told by none other than Alan Moore himself. And that, of course, is crucial given he created these characters in the first place.

Cover of Big Little Book John Carter of Mars (...Image via WikipediaWhile the first volume was a disjoint series of adventures that ultimately resulted in facing both Fu Manchu and Dr. Moriarty. This edition had the League somewhat in a more established story, this being The War of the Worlds by H.G. Wells. The story actually begins on Mars where John Carter and Lt. Gullivar Jones have helped form a Martian Resistance to drive away the aliens who have been harassing them. This eventually drives the aliens to Earth with the landing of the cylinder right out of the original science fiction book.

Thus the League are sent to investigate the phenomenon, scarcely escaping the deadly effects of the alien Heat-Ray. The League realize that they're somewhat over their heads in terms of this threat and do their best to regroup and come up with a better strategy for dealing with the aliens. Meanwhile, Griffin a.k.a. The Invisible Man decides to approach the Martians and make a deal with them in exchange for his safety.
I have to admit that beyond the core appeal of the League itself, it definitely helped a heck of a lot more that the plot involved a lot of classic science fiction stories. There was John Carter of Mars, The War of the Worlds, The Island of Doctor Moreau and even The Wind in the Willows, to name a few. It's interesting to note how deftly Moore was able to merge all these different stories together in order to generate a brand new tale pretty much worthy of all the ones tapped for this volume.

At the same time, I have to admit that Moore took a lot of liberties in terms of further exploring the characters more deeply. There was the interesting connection between Mr. Hyde and Mina Harker. There was the budding relationship between Harker and Alan Quatermain. And of course there's the single-minded deviousness of the Invisible Man in his own exploits. All these little plot points and all the others helped make them a lot more realistic and thus a lot more fulfilling as characters to follow and read about.

And they really pushed the art styles this time around, at least in my opinion. The covers of the single issues were most interesting and varied from one another and yet still within a single theme. Each issue was in some ways another homage to the classic tales of old in their own unique ways.

The story does drag a bit in the middle - and that was a sex scene I definitely don't need to see again - but overall it's a great story and more fulfilling than the first one, in some ways. Or perhaps the credit really ought to go more to the original War of the Worlds tale for acting as the framework for the story. Either way, this is definitely a good read.

The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen - Volume 2 is a great addition to the franchise and could have acted as the end to the whole thing had Moore decided not to write anymore. It gets 4 quirky human-animal hybrids out of a possible 5.

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