Moore, Alan: League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, The, vol. 1

Last night I finished volume one of The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen by Alan Moore (which I keep wanting to call The League of Frightened Men, which is a Nero Wolfe book). This is the collection of the first six issues/story arc of a new comic.

The story opens in 1898 with a Ms. Mina Murray assembling a crew of, well, freaks, at the direction of British Intelligence. After some effort, Ms. Murray (formerly Mrs. Harker, from Dracula) tracks down and recruits Allan Quatermain (from H. Rider Haggard’s books); Dr. Jekyll (& Mr. Hyde); and Hawley Griffin, the Invisible Man. (Captain Nemo is the other member, but the book opens after Ms. Murray—who kicks ass and takes names, and almost made me want to re-read Dracula, which I recall as being very dull textually—has recruited him, which is good because that’s by far the least probable one for her to have tracked down.)

That we’re in an alternate England is quite clear, and not only because these characters actually exist here, though their fates are not as recorded in our world. (For instance, a postscript at the end of Dracula says that in 1904, Mrs. Harker is still married and has a son.) On page 2, our characters stand upon an incomplete bridge across the English Channel—something never attempted in our world. And we eventually learn that our protagonists have been brought together to recover some stolen cavorite from another famous character of the era . . .

This story was a pretty straightforward adventure, made remarkable by the thought and research evident in the details—cameos, world-building, and background images. (There are annotations available, if you’re having trouble identifying some of the characters—or just translating the bits in different languages.) It was an enjoyable read, but I probably won’t buy the next one in hardcover for myself. (I bought this one in hardcover as a present for Chad, and since he thinks my scruple of not reading books I buy for other people is weird, borrowed it some time after he was finished.)

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