From Publishers Weekly
Moore continues his trip through pulp genres with this second volume of The League. This collection includes plenty of faux-Victorian backup material, including the comic book series' original covers, and a lengthy prose short story by Moore. Although the film version was a bust, the source material remains an enjoyable, beautifully executed adventure series. Set in an alternate, technologically advanced 1898 London, the story finds legendary literary heroes Allan Quartermain, Captain Nemo, Hawley Griffin (the Invisible Man), Edward Hyde and Mina Murray fighting battles that the British Empire can't handle without them. Here, the eclectic team is defending Earth from a Martian invasion, partially set in motion by another pulp hero, Edgar Rice Burroughs's John Carter of Mars. Moore spares no opportunity to play up the team's origins. Edward Hyde, the monstrous side of Dr. Jekyll, is a nasty brute, while Nemo is an imperious egomaniac, and the once-dashing Allan Quartermain is in the twilight of his powers, yet manages to romance Mina Murray, of Dracula notoriety. Moore remains faithful to the stories' structures (e.g., the Martian invasion is a pulpy romp, complete with burning farm houses, silly-looking creatures and plenty of political intrigue). O'Neill, his artistic collaborator, continues his fine run on the series. His drawings are influenced by 19th-century woodcuts but remain loose and lively. His exquisite renderings of machines and urban landscape remain a reason to look at this seriesrarely has an adventure comic been so much fun to observe.
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Of the half-dozen series acclaimed writer Moore created when he returned to mainstream comics in the late 1990s, the most impressive is the high-concept League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, which posits that the fictional nineteenth-century figures Allan Quartermain (of Rider Haggard's She
), Captain Nemo, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, the Invisible Man, and Mina Harker (heroine of Dracula
) banded together as a sort of Victorian superhero team. In the second collection of their exploits, they defend England from an invasion of Martians a la Wells' War of the Worlds
. As befits a rousing adventure of their era, a traitor rears his ugly head, and a sinister figure reveals unexpected sentimentality; less traditional are some highly anachronistic violence and sex. This is Moore doing what he does best, freshly and imaginatively revitalizing moribund genres. He is aided in this case by O'Neill's angular, thin-line art, which evokes period book illustrations without copying them. Forget last summer's execrable League
movie; in this case, the film wasn't just inferior to the book--it was an insult to it. Gordon FlaggCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved