Now Reading: The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen

The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen was never what I would call one of my favorite Alan Moore stories, but even the least exciting Moore stories are still pretty damn good. Basically, it’s a bunch of 19th century literary characters teaming up like a group of old-timey superheroes because in this world every work of fiction was apparently based on a true story. The original team consisted of people like Mr. Hyde, Nemo, and Allan Quatermain. The first two volumes are surprisingly simple for a Moore story. Sure, there’s layers upon layers of literary references scattered throughout each moment, but the main plot is very straightforward stuff. Still an excellent read, but it wasn’t until later that things started getting really dense and weird.

Things got much stranger with The Black Dossier, which was like a bizarre scrapbook filled with various prose short stories and short comic bits, all from different time periods ranging from over 1000 years BC to the 1940’s. It deals with magic, immortals, and the mysterious fourth dimension. It even includes some 3D glasses for some special bits in the end. It can be a bit dry at times, sometimes feeling more like a history textbook than a fictional narrative, but it’s certainly a unique presentation, and it adds some crazy new twists to the premise of The League. 

The third volume (because Black Dossier didn’t count as such for some reason) returns to a more standard comic book format, but continues the themes of strange extra-dimensional entities and a complex plot that spans multiple time periods. It’s a very different kind of story than the original 19th century League, but it also has ties to every story that came before it. It also features the introduction to the new Nemo, who would end up becoming the focus of the final League-related stories. It serves as a good enough ending for the saga, wrapping up most pre-existing plot threads, though still leaving enough people still standing that a sequel would be possible, though that seems extremely unlikely at this point.

The Nemo Trilogy is really more of a spinoff, covering a few key adventures throughout the life of Nemo’s daughter. It’s a bit more like the original volumes of League, as in it’s just standard straightforward adventure stuff where Nemo and crew fight against Lovecraftian horrors and Nazis and such. Not a bad read, but pretty simple stuff compared to the rest.

I’ve noticed that there were several references to and encounters with the Cthulhuverse across several of these stories over the year too. Moore sure seems to think about Cthulhu a lot, not that there’s anything wrong with that…

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