Sunday, January 15, 2012

The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Volume One

 What a treasure trove of  literature, graphica and steampunk!  This seems like a match made in heaven for myself (a confessed science fiction fanatic and lover of literature from  the 18 and 1900's).  During the first read-through I enjoyed myself immensely, playing a game of I-at I had found on Wikipedia  List of The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen Characters I did just that and had a lot of fun doing it, as well as finding new authors and series to read.  It was exciting to just flip a page and see what character  I would read about next (and no peeking until I had finished reading that book).  I couldn't track down them all, but I did manage to read quite a few that I had been meaning to read for quite a while, among them Bram Stoker's Dracula, The Insidious Fu Manchu by Sax Rohmer, Casino Royale by Ian Fleming (007's grandfather is featured in the graphic novel), H. Rider Haggard's King Solomon's Mines, Poe's The Murders in the Rue Morge and Zola's Nana.  Not all the characters were featured but just referenced through an image added like a street sign or the great picture gallery shown behind the league featured on the front cover.    My second reading was even more enjoyable once I understood more about the characters original story and could recognize the occasional reference alluding to something particular in it's pages.

A well written book can instill in you the horror of the imagination... with a graphic novel one page says it all and there is no need for your imagination to fill in the gaps.  This one is no exception.  I love it when the illustrations are well done, and with this novel I could see the 'humanity' of our characters as well as the horror of their private circumstances, the brutality of  Jeckyll's Hyde for example, or the precision and stoicism of Captain Nemo, the weaknesses and strengths of Alan Quartermain, the lack of morality and ethics in our Invisible Man,  the strength and determination of character in Mina Murray, who doesn't hesitate to do what needs to be done no matter how strange or unseemly the job may be.

I love it when such beloved characters are brought back to life and they have not been altered in any way to suit the author's story line, but seem to have had the story written around the strengths of each character's personality and circumstances.  I have seen movies do this (and sometimes alter the character so much that it is not possible to recognize the original in any way and they have had to fall back on some silly and often lame device to label the person so you know who it might be) and it has always bothered me to see a character altered in this way.  I can understand why Alan Moore did not like the movie that was inspired by his book (though I am grateful for the inspiration as I liked the movie very much regardless). 

For lovers of the steampunk genre, graphic novels, and literature from the late 1800's in general, this is a must-have for your library, and I am looking forward to the reading of Volume Two because there was a hint at the end of Volume One that had me squeeing like a teenage girl!

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