Shiny Shelf

The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen #2.5

By Eddie Robson on 08 May 2003

See that creature on the front of this issue? The one menacing Quatermain and Mina? Try and guess what that is. Just try it. If I was a betting man – which I’m not, thankfully – I’d lay about a hundred quid on this.

I’m not going to tell you, obviously, but you’ll laugh when you find out. Yes, twenty-four years into his comics writing career and Alan Moore still retains the capacity to surprise, not just when it matters, but constantly. Admittedly ‘League’ frequently offers quite cheap surprises, wheeling on a character from fiction so that the reader can squeal delightedly with recognition. What Moore does do well is find interesting ways of using them, coming at them from angles which most writers would either not think of or would think too bold to attempt.

Having now reached issue five it is apparent that this second six-part ‘League’ adventure, like the first, is not telling a terribly complex story, choosing instead to relate a few events in close detail. Basically two things happen in this issue, neither of which directly involve the invading Martians (although both are aimed at thwarting them). But this is how Moore’s best work operates: both ‘Watchmen’ and ‘From Hell’ are more interested in the characters’ emotional stories, the painstakingly detailed worlds that surround the characters, and the sheer scale of the ideas; the plots are secondary. Despite its roots in pulp, plot-driven fiction, this is perhaps truer of ‘League’ than anything Moore has ever done.

And this is an undeniably powerful issue, about which I can explain nothing without spoiling it for you. Suffice to say that, with the ‘League’ movie gearing up for release in the summer, Moore responds with an issue that is a long way from family fun. He saunters over a line that most would balk at even approaching; it’s the grisliest comic I’ve bought this week and that includes a new issue of ‘The Filth’. Look out for the stained tablecloth, it’s a genius touch.

If they base the film’s sequel on this series, expect some changes. Enjoy.

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By Eddie Robson

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