Michael's Reviews > The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Vol. 1

The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Vol. 1 by Alan Moore
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's review
Mar 21, 2010

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bookshelves: comics
Read from March 20 to 21, 2010

Though not nearly as rich and textured as Watchmen the only other Alan Moore book I've read, The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Vol. 1 is certainly engrossing for a comic book. Basically a Victorian boy's dream of literary characters mashed up in adventures to save London, and the British Empire, from sure ruin, these tales are imbued with a smirking racism, orientalism and naivete that makes the Charlie Chan Chinese and bitter Sikh's almost bearable. For a more detailed discussion of this topic, check out a recent article on "Victorientalism" in SteamPunk Magazine here. In this particular text, I think Captain Nemo serves as a counterbalance to some of the prevailing xenophobia, but he's also, at times, portrayed in the same panel as a saintly sage and violent brute. No in between.

Alan Moore is a master of big reveals, so in each chapter of this narrative, we see bigger and bigger vehicles and more and more imposing enemy lairs. He can also tell a pretty engaging story, with some bearable dialogue and well-developed characters (for a comic book). What I think is unfair, is Moore's deification in the comics world. I agree that he is far and away one of the best writers in the field, but without the brilliant and understated art of his collaborators, many of his stories would seem overblown and ridiculous. Here Kevin O'Neill does as Dave Gibbons did with Watchmen, using very simple panels with strictly defined boundaries and art that is, if not realistic, simple and striving for a sort of real representation of a possible world.

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