Shiny Shelf

The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen#2.2

By Mags L Halliday on 05 September 2002

WARNING! Contains spoilers!

It’s a bit of a shock to receive the second issue of volume 2 so promptly after issue 1 came out. For once, it’s not possible to claim it was “worth the wait”.
Issue 2 takes up a few hours after issue 1 left off, with the League still waiting at the edge of the pit on the Common to see what has fallen to Earth. It’s Martians. We all know it’s Martians. We’ve known ever since the final panel of volume 1. The first half of this issue very neatly inserts the League into the opening chapters of H.G.Wells’ War of the Worlds, staying very true to the original text. Dialogue and scenes are perfectly captured, including a glimpse of Wells’ narrator (page 6).
Then we move on, and as the League set up base in a pub the plot tangents from Wells’. Mina finally reveals a little of her past to one of her colleagues: not to Quartermaine as one might expect, but to Hyde. The back-up feature for this issue also suggests that the reader’s assumption of a future love affair between Mina and Quartermaine may be false. And then comes the betrayal of the Earth by one of the League at the end of this issue.

Moore’s writing is what initially drew me to League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, being a huge fan of From Hell, but it’s O’Neill’s artwork that makes each issue such a joy to read. With comics, the artwork can so easily ruin or redeem a script (see the continual artist changes in New X Men and how it can undercut Morrison’s script). Moore and O’Neill compliment each other, with intricacy of both script and visuals making the book a delight. Much of this issue is in ‘widescreen’, allowing a huge amount of events to be relayed in a very few pages and suggesting the creators are trying to outdo the forthcoming film version of their first volume.

The back-up feature – a traveller’s guide to the Victorian/Edwardian world according to Moore, often from Mina’s journals – has moved onto Europe. The spot-the-reference game is a little harder now, at least for me, although we finally get Mina mentioning Him (oddly capitalised) as she reluctantly returns to Eastern Europe some fifteen years after her encounter with Dracula. The easy references include Rabelais, de Sade, Les Miserables and The Tempest. There are also tantalising hints about the future of the League, with Mina’s “second league” battling the French version.

The first volume of the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen convinced readers that Moore knows his stuff: this new one suggests, so far at least, that he has not merely created a convincing team of anti-heroes culled from existing fiction but also has pulled together an entire world for them to exist in. If you’re not already reading The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, then you too must have recently landed from Mars.

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