There's two major strikes against The Black Dossier, and neither of them has anything to do with the contents of the book. The first, of course, is th...moreThere's two major strikes against The Black Dossier, and neither of them has anything to do with the contents of the book. The first, of course, is that we've been waiting years for this - five years, for many, just to see any new LoEG work; two years since the Dossier itself was announced. Expectations therefore peaked at a high, and that never bodes well for something as unusual and experimental as this.
The second is that this really should have been the final volume of LoEG. But more on that in a minute.
Basically, the book has a very thin plot, something any decent reader will notice after just a cursory flip through the pages. It's the almanac section from Volume II writ large - documents, postcards, letters, "extracts" and other errata chronicling the centuries-spanning LoEG's history, built to engage you more as a puzzle than a narrative, with the occasional bone thrown out in the comics framing story. Fortunately, the Almanac was probably my favorite part of Volume II, so I enjoyed the game - although I was aware that, in simply telling us so much about his creation, Moore is basically robbing us of the potential for those stories in the future. We will never see the battle of Mina Murray's League against their French counterparts, nor the failed replacement League of the post-WWII years, nor the formation of Prospero's Men. It's all here - in prose form. Moore is both flexing the comics medium to its full potential and withholding its more traditional use. Fascinating, but ever so slightly disappointing.
That's why this really should have been the last story of the LoEG to be published (as I expect it still will be, 'chronologically'). With the foreknowledge that Volume III arrives from Top Shelf in a year, this is less a goodbye to the League and more just a goodbye to the League...at DC Comics. Fair enough, but there are some real meditations here on the changing nature of literary heroes - and, later, on fiction itself - which are going to be completely overlooked because a lot of readers, having been surprised and intimidated by the Black Dossier, will simply put it aside and wait for Volume III without ever giving it a second glance.
I definitely enjoyed The Black Dossier. It wasn't quite what I expected when it was first announced two years ago, but by the time descriptions started to leak online, I suspected something less about one narrative story and more about the act of storytelling. That's pretty much what I got. It's not a total home run - I'll have trouble recommending it to friends, and Moore's casual sexualizing of characters still (and always has) makes me vaguely uncomfortable - but it's overall good stuff, and I'll be holding on to my copy for sure.(less)
A nice conclusion to Izzy's story, even if the revelations made in her final pages seem to come a bit out of left field. The run of strips compiled in...moreA nice conclusion to Izzy's story, even if the revelations made in her final pages seem to come a bit out of left field. The run of strips compiled in "Oblivion" feel like a complete season arc, although admittedly more of an emotionally-driven one than the previous McGann collections. In fact, the emotions - centering on Izzy's forced body swap with the fish-like alien Destrii - are the best part about the strips, because for once, the longer plots are a touch lacking. There's a lot of content here that could use additional length or depth, especially "Uroboros," which has a great concept that wraps up way too quickly, and "The Way of All Flesh," which renders guest stars Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera oddly...typical. The stronger strips are the one-shots "Beautiful Freak" and "Me and My Shadow," along with the one solid multi-part strip, "Children of the Revolution." The latter, an unexpected sequel to the classic "Evil of the Daleks," presents the evil pepperpots in a way we've never seen before, but actually works really well - both as a natural development from the classic '60s story and in counterpoint to the comic arc's emotional themes.
The art is also worth mentioning this time around. Aside from the regular artist Martin Geraghty (who *still* veers between capturing Paul McGann dead-on and not at all), Lee Sullivan does some great, classically clean art for "Children of the Revoluton," while my personal favorite is John Ross' stylized art for "Me and My Shadow" and "Uroboros." Adrian Salmon's wonderful colors, starting with "Children," are also worth note - they really bring this first collection of full-color strips to life with a sizzle.
"Oblivion" is a good collection, perhaps the most self-contained of the McGann volumes. It lacks the waywardness of the writing in "Endgame" and the overkill of 'funny' strips in "The Glorious Dead." There are some tremendously strong ideas here, too, and the color is a real book. But the McGann strips have yet to live up to the quality of the Steve Parkhouse days, and with just one collection to go, who knows if they ever will.(less)
I enjoyed this - great use of black and white, engagingly "realistic" dialogue, a nice if loose drawing style - but it feels too slight to pass any re...moreI enjoyed this - great use of black and white, engagingly "realistic" dialogue, a nice if loose drawing style - but it feels too slight to pass any real judgment on the story. It's the first third of a serialized tale and man, does it ever feel like it. Still, there's enough good stuff here to make me want to check out Book 2 when it is released.(less)