Thursday, 5 March 2009

Comics What Are Great #6 - The League Of Extraordinary Gentlemen

Title:- The League Of Extraordinary Gentlemen

In a nutshell:-
What if popular Victorian fantasy characters has banded together as a comic-book style superteam?

The Basics:-
Alan Moore is quite the legend in the world of comics. You may well be wondering why I haven't written about his much-praised graphic novel Watchmen. Well, everyone's already twatting on about this one at more than great length so I thought it would be best to give some of the beardy wizard's other work a bit of a look in. This one has a great conceit behind it - Mina Murray, Allan Quatermain, Henry Jekyll/Edward Hyde, Captain Nemo and the Invisible Man are all brought together to tackle a fiendish foreign menace threatening to besmirch the good old Empire.

Why's It So Good?:- It's a simple idea - old literary characters teaming up superhero style - but it's done with a genuine affectation for and obvious deep knowledge of the source material. Volumes 1 and 2 are fairly straightforward, involving the team in a diabolical plot by Fu Manchu and H.G. Wells' Martian invasion of Earth respectively but it's the Black Dossier that really elevates it into something different. Combining many different text styles (and even a Tijuana bible insert and a 3D section with 3D glasses), it provides a far deeper history to the League and is very much more than "just" a comic book.

Surely Some Of It Must Be Rubbish:-
The comic? No. But the film, oh, the film... Moore has traditionally distanced himself from any film adaptations and he's quite right to, particularly in this case. It's a prime example of taking a great concept and tweaking every possible thing you could in order to make it a hideous car smash. Allan Quatermain in the comic? A washed up opium addict whose glory days are well behind him. In the film? A cool and wise-cracking Sean Connery (playing Sean Connery as always). Mina Murray in the comic? A physically and emotionally scarred divorcee trying to escape the memories of her experience with a vampire. In the film? A sexy leather clad vampire lady.What makes it all the more disappointing is the adaptation was penned by comic scribe James Robinson (who gave us the brilliant Starman which I wrote about yesterday - nice link there).

So We Should Seek Out This Thing Of Which You Speak?:-
The comics? Most definitely as you'll get the story as well as the scratchily great artwork by Kevin O'Neill. The film? No. Just no. Don't do it. It's awful. Avoid. (I'm not a fan of the film. Can you tell?)

So, seeing as we've come to Alan Moore, Watchmen's out tomorrow and only Anna is still bothering to read these anymore, we come to the end of comics week. What delights are in store for us tomorrow then? I don't really know. The usual round of inanity, probably. Come back and we'll all find out together. It'll be a spiffing romp, old sticks.


Anna Russell said...

Damnit, you're ending with no mention of Sandman!

I agree. The League comics are really something special. Not that I'd expect less from Moore. The film was beyond awful. I'm not just being a fanboy(girl?) saying that, even people who'd never heard of the comic hated that film. It was insulting to even the stupidest of people's intelligence.

I'm hoping that while you may not have gotten a lot of comments on this comics series, people might have read the posts and checked out the comics mentioned anyway.

TishTash said...

My college boyfriend and I saw the film at the theatres. It sucked. We made out instead. So all in all, a positive experience.

That Baldy Fella said...

Anna - Well, I do like Sandman a lot but it doesn't quite make it into my all time favourites. It's just too slow in places at times...

I hope so, too. Just doing my bit to spread the comicy word. Excelsior! (OK, that may have a geeky step too far)

TishTash - It's good to know that some good came out of the onscreen evil that was perpetrated.