Friday, September 02, 2005


Bookwise, the major recent acquisition has been The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen Volume II (known as LXG-2 within the comic-lovers’ fraternity). Samit had told me it probably wouldn’t be available here for a while so I pirouetted like a pixie on steroids when I saw it in The Book Shop, Khan Market, placed neatly in (AARRGHH!) the children’s section. Much fun if one of those sweet little kiddilies were to open the book right to the much-anticipated (and very funny) sex scene between Allan Quatermain and Mina Harker.

[For the uninitiated: this is the sequel to Alan Moore and Kevin O’Neill’s masterful graphic novel/comic/what you will about the coming together of a band of heroes from 1890s adventure fiction – Mr Quatermain from King Solomon’s Mines, Ms Harker from Dracula, Hawley Griffin from The Invisible Man, Captain Nemo from 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde. The first book was made into a film that was amazingly bad, especially given that Moore/O’Neill’s storyboard approach should have made it easy for any director trying to transpose the story to celluloid.]

I’ve finished my first reading of LXG 2 – that is, the one where I just get through the story. Will need at least a further two for a proper appreciation of the thing. Graphic novels of this quality are so rich in detail, each new perusal shows you things you’d overlooked the previous time, and besides, you have to assimilate them at two entirely different levels. Personally, I find the intensity of effort required higher than while reading most conventional texts (which is just one of the reasons it’s ironical that the genre is sniffed at by high-literary types).

One of the things I like most about the second book so far is the increased importance given to Mr Hyde. Realising that Dr Jekyll was always going to be a dour presence, the authors decided to do away with him altogether and hand the stage to his Gentleman-Monster alter ego. It works spectacularly well, especially in Hyde’s amusing attempts to be courtly with Mina, the grisly comeuppance he wreaks on the traitor Griffin and his rousing final heroics.

Incidentally, LXG 2 references The Island of Dr Moreau and The War of the Worlds but I didn’t get all the nods. Will get back to it now to work them all out. Needless to say, both LXGs come with the highest recommendation, just don’t gift them to your little ’uns. (As the Samuel L Jackson character says in Unbreakable, “This is Art. But you must think you're in a toy store, because you're here shopping for an infant named Jeb. Do you see any Teletubbies in here?”)

P.S. Only tangentially related, but great post here by Gamesmaster on Batman, Robin and alternate sexuality.


  1. Love love love the artwork in the bit that takes place on Mars. And the Sorns...and...

  2. thanx for the tip, will check the kids section next time...

  3. The movie was exceedingly awful wasn't it? Truthfully, there have only been a very few good movie adaptations of comic books. I think my favorite to date has been Sin City, which really managed to communicate the story in a unique visual style that transports you into the world. Your observation that LXG ought to have been a fairly simple matter "given that Moore/O’Neill’s storyboard approach should have made it easy for any director trying to transpose the story to celluloid" couldn't be more accurate.

  4. Haven't read this one (or LXG 1), but I have just finished Moore's V for Vendetta and his work for DC, and have just started on From Hell. I'm eagerly waiting for the V film. I like Natalie Portman, and I think bald women are sexy, so yay on two counts. And while I do believe Hugo Weaving looks much better in drag (as in Priscilla), I like him enough to accept him as V, considering that we never actually see his face - and I really hope they won't change that bit.

    I agree with the storyboard comment, and that's exactly why Sin City is supposed to be a good movie (I haven't seen it - hasn't arrived here in Pune yet).

  5. Alan moore has definitely had a filmic style and has used film narrative and transitional elements from the beginning of his career. Watchmen is a great example of moore using montage and flashback techniques, although every comic uses them, I think Moore uses them like an expert. He also has a director's eye for detail and subtlety, such as the various gunga diner boxes, the nuclear silhouettes and the unfinished "who watches the watchmen" graffiti littered throughout watchmen.
    On the subject of LXG2 I definitely thought it was better than the first one. Would have loved to have seen Holmes make an appearance which was not in flashback but oh well.
    Catched references to skull and bones society, cs lewis, murders in the rue morgue and Gulliver's Travels.
    Moore also pays extraordinary attention to details such as weaponry like the pellet revolver in LXG1 and the pepper box revolver in LXG2, something not everyone notices, but its there for the fans.
    LXG2 came out a long time ago here in america.