The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen volume 1

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Read 22/09/2016-25/09/2016

Rating: 3 stars

Read for The Reader’s Room Olympic Challenge

Normally, a trade of a comic series would only take me a day, maybe a day and a half to read. I was surprised when it took me four days to plough through the first trade of The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen.

Why didn’t I like it more? Why did I find it tiresome?

The story didn’t grab me for a start. Good idea, assembling characters from across Victorian fiction to form an espionage ring that foils the enemies of the state in a steam punk fin de siècle setting. The story whimpered along, though, trying to be arch but coming across smug.

I got what Moore and O’Neill were about. Really, I got it. The irony of pneumatically breasted women being mentally stronger than the entitled heroes who couldn’t see past the women’s cleavages and frilly undergarments. The first Alan Moore I read was Halo Jones. I know Moore isn’t a misogynist. I know his tongue is firmly in his cheek when he goes full inflammatory. This felt tedious and trite, though.

I even got that the casually spoken racism is intended to be a reflection of the attitudes of the time in which the book is set. My hackles always rise slightly, though, when racist slurs are employed for ‘authenticity’ purposes. Is there really a need for it? Even in the name of irony?

Ironic misogyny and racism aside, there was more that disappointed me about this book.

There wasn’t enough jeopardy in the story. It needed more tension. Perhaps I was disappointed because my expectations after Halo Jones were in the wrong place. With the way everyone bloody loves Alan Moore and thinks he can do no wrong as well, I was expecting genius.

It wasn’t bad. I didn’t hate it. I was bored, though.

There’s also a back story for Allan Quartermain at the end, in which he visits a crumbling stately home, takes some drugs, does a bit of time travelling with the unnamed protagonist of The Time Machine, fights the Morlocks and witnesses his own physical body, left behind in a drugged stupor, possessed by an alien. He also sees his own future, the future that is the present at the start of the comic. It, too, was only okay. I might have enjoyed it more if I’d consumed some drugs myself.

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