The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen
Volume one

Author: Alan Moore
Artist: Kevin O'Neill
Titan Books
RRP 13.99
ISBN 1 84023 302 8
Available now

Some of the 19th century's best loved literary characters have formed a group intent on protecting the British empire in its time of need. Captain Nemo, Allan Quatermain, Dr. Jekyll, Mr Hyde, the Invisible Man and miss Mina Harker must combat an insidious threat that will decide the supremacy of the London skies, but will their success unleash a far greater threat?...

The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen brings together the best in 19th century literature and throws the characters into a strange parallel universe. While 19th century London seems the same on the surface there are a number of elements that should not be there. Why, for example, is there an antigravity ship? And, at the Reichenbach Falls, why doesn't everything go the way that it should when it comes to Sherlock Holmes and Moriarty infamous battle to the death?

Alan Moore's creation is hilarious and written to mimic the style of the era. Each of the original comics finished with a warning - for example: "In the next number of our picture periodical there are further scenes to divert and astonish, including episodes of a bawdy nature that our lady readers, being of a more delicate sensibility, may wish to avoid." Pure genius.

Kevin O'Neill's art is impeccable and helps to convey the right atmosphere. His dark renderings of the slums of East London are heart stopping.

This graphic novel also contains a collection of stories set out like a mini novel as well as reprints of the original comic covers and a few tongue-in-cheek cartons that are designed to reflect the art work of the period.

If you are a literary nut then you will love this - although James Bond fans may be mortified to discover their hero is a bit of a chubster. In a word this graphic novel is, quite frankly, breathtaking.

Nick Smithson

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