Gentlemen: forget the movie, here comes 1969

If you’ve only ever seen The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen movie and not read the comics, you are missing out. If you have the DVD and not read the comics, use the DVD as a frisbee and check out the comics, especially as there’s a brand new one – The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: Century 1969 – out now.

The original League comic, Volume I was first published in 1999 and united Victorian fiction’s greatest characters.

The League consisted of Allan Quartermain, The Invisible Man, Captain Nemo, Dr Jekyll/Mr.Hyde and Mina Harker. Together they took on the classic villain Fu Manchu. However the League were just the tip of the iceberg as writer Alan Moore built in a dizzying amount of fictional references that artist Kevin O’Neill bought to life.

The sequel, Volume II was amazingly enough even better, pitting the League against H.G. Wells’ Martian tripod invaders. Moore gets even more inventive as the League rise to the challenge, no more so than when Mr Hyde takes on the tripods single handily. Fiction is also deliciously mixed up as Moore uses Dr. Moreau to ensure you’ll never look at Rupert the Bear in the same way again.

The next follow up was the The Black Dossier (which because of copyright issues is not available directly in the UK). It’s not a straight up adventure like it predecessors and is more Alan Moore playing with concepts and it’s really for the hardcore only.

The new sequence has the League – over the course of a century – deal with a cult threatening a apocalyptic moonchild. The first volume Century 1910 is only a loose adventure but still quite a ride. It’s certainly weaker lacking the stronger characters of the first adventures but is still full of dazzling moments.

This brings us to the recent release Century 1969. It’s better than 1910, as the League is still led by the ever young Mina Harker chase after the cult behind the moonchild. The sixties setting is invigorating and brings fresh impetus to the story. Alan Moore gleefully pulls in versions of The Rolling Stones, Michael Caine’s Jack Carter and even Steptoe and Son into the story. Cheekiest of all of is cameo by a young lord Voldemort. It sets up a third volume that should make Century as good as the first adventures.

The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen comics are available on Amazon. Also check out - this website of annotations to the series by Jess Nevins.

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