Thursday, August 15, 2013

The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen Vol. 2 Absolute Edition Review

The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen Vol. 2 Absolute Edition
DC Comics - America's Best Comics
Oversized Hardcover w/Slipcase
448 pages
$49.99 (2011) Omnibus w/Vol. 1
$75.00 (2005) Absolute Edition
$14.95 (2004) Trade Paperback
$24.95 (2003) Hardcover
ISBN 9781401206116

Contributors: Alan Moore, Kevin O'Neill, Ben Dimagnaliw, and Bill Oakley

Reprints: The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen Vol. 2 #1-6 (of 6)

Synopsis: Brought together in the time of England's greatest crisis they are a group of extraordinary and notorious figures.  This unlikely team managed to save the country from an evil group trying to harness a new element called Cavorite, and ferreted out a traitor to the Crown in their first adventure. Now they return for another deadly mission which threatens the entire world!

The group includes:
  • Ms. Mina Murray (Bram Stoker) - She was once married to one John Harker, but then Count Dracula entered her life.  She survived the encounter, but was divorced by her husband and hides the scars on her neck with a red scarf.  She has proven to be very brave and cool-headed during a crisis. 
  • Allan Quartermain (H. Rider Haggard) - He was once a grand adventurer who discovered King Solomon's mines and was a big game hunter.  Rescued from an opium den and an obscure death to join this group.  He is quite smitten with Ms. Murray.
  • Captain Nemo (Jules Verne) - An unknown Sikh mariner and science-pirate he captains the first submersible warship, the Nautilus.  Despises the British for their attempts to subjugate the world (and his people in particular) with their imperial society.  
  • Dr. Henry Jekyll/Edward Hyde (Robert Louis Stevenson) - Jekyll was a troubled scientist who attempted to purge himself of all inappropriate impulses, but managed to summon forth an unconscionable monster calling itself Hyde. Both depraved morally and utterly ferocious, Hyde can be both blessing and curse for the group. He has an unhealthy fascination with Ms. Murray.
  • Hawley Griffin (H.G. Wells) - Scientifically discovered the secret to imbuing invisibility in himself and organic subjects, dubbed "The Invisible Man".  He has immense misanthropic tendencies and despises humanity.  
From left: Captain Nemo, Allan Quatermain, Mina Murray,
Edward Hyde, and Hawley Griffin
These five extraordinary individuals continue their work for the Crown and are called to investigate a strange cylinder which fell from the sky onto the Horsell common.  The group witnesses the cylinder open and a horrific alien creature appear then disappear.  Soon thereafter a terrible heat ray burns every living soul to ashes on the common.  A true nightmare unfolds.

What are the disgusting creatures and where do they come from?  The technology they wield is like nothing ever seen before by man.  How can our group possibly prevail against these bizarre invaders?  Allan Quatermain and Mina Murray are sent to rally help from a secret government agent.  Can Nemo's formidable Nautilus stand up to the unholy alien heat ray?  What of Griffin's invisibility and Hyde's inhuman rage?  Faced with otherworldly adversaries will our extraordinary group prevail?

A truly horrific conversation with Mr. Hyde
Pros: Great concept/writing by Moore, quirky/interesting art by O'Neill, story is inspired by the best/greatest classic fiction writers of the Victorian era, awesome follow up starring the same group of quasi-heroes from the first mini-series, tons of extra material and New Traveller's Almanac is a special treat, Hyde is truly monstrous, nice touch adding Gulliver and John Carter of Mars at the beginning

Cons: Expensive book for a mere six-issue mini-series, wading through the extras can be a bit of a chore, some of the animal-men hybrids of Doctor Moreau were kinda silly looking as drawn by O'Neill, I felt the Invisible Man angle was too unbelievable (I know he's a misanthrope, but really?)

Now that is one brave coach-driver to talk back to Edward Hyde
Mike Tells It Straight: Alan Moore and Kevin O'Neil follow up on their first The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen (LOEG) mini-series with this thrilling sequel.  The first series was as much a story about forming this unlikely group of extraordinary individuals as their first caper together to stop an evil menace.  It was a great reinvention of these Victorian fictional characters with a few nice twists by Moore.  This next story perfectly follows the first with our group continuing on with another difficult adventure.  The story is more about developing the characters while playing them opposite a nasty alien invasion.

I loved the flourishes Moore added to the story like the whole Martian landscape introduction with Gulliver and John Carter.  Truly brilliant storytelling.  Among the great character themes explored are Quatermain and Mina Murray's subtle likening to each other, Griffin's misanthropic nature, and the unlikely extremes of Hyde's fractured personality.  Later issues added Dr. Moreau to the mix, but were a little less polished although captivating nonetheless.  Moore has got this Victorian revival thing down to a science!

O'Neil's art was quirky and appropriate.  Gone were the massive statuesque edifices from the first volume which I felt made the setting feel like a London from an alternate dimension.  This one felt like our familiar world in the grip of a terrifying alien invasion.  Great and fun Victorian steampunk adventure.  The Absolute edition is a beautiful format for the series, but I still think it's a little pricey and only for the true aficionado.  The trade paperback or hardcover is plenty adequate.  I really enjoyed the extra material however and especially The Traveller's Almanac featuring a long essay of strange locations around the world.  It served as a kind of background and future telling of the LOEG.  Highly recommended!

TO BUY and Recommendations: