Thursday, November 22, 2007

The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: Black Dossier

Here's how this works: I finish reading something, and I tell you about it, and I try not to bore you to death.

The second time was the charm, as what began as a very good story reveals itself, by way of so many incredibly intelligent allusions, foreshadowing and narrative puzzles, to be utterly sublime, like a comic version of House of Leaves. The main story is as remarkable as you expect from the Moore and O'Neill's prior work. Remember how, in volume one, M turns out to not be Mycroft Holmes and it's the greatest cliffhanger ever? That happens about six times here. I was totally comfortable with the Dan Dare/Gerry Anderson world that's replacing Big Brother's England, and adding the entirely dissimilar Quatermass Experiment to that world was a masterstroke, just dropped in for a penny-drop gag in one panel.

The use of the supplemental material from the dossier itself is amazing, subtly revealing facts with casual ease, and silently passing notes to the reader on the back of jigsaw puzzle pieces. I did complete The Crazy Wide Forever, although it's likely I won't perform well if quizzed upon its narrative, and liked the unbelievably kinky Fanny Hill sequel best, even better than the thrilling picture story The Life of Orlando. The Wodehouse pastiche had me in stitches, though I think even a dark god like "Cool Lulu" should know better than to mess with Wooster's Aunt Dahlila. Highly recommended for mature readers with ample time to dissect and play with the material.

(originally posted November 22, 2007 at hipsterdad's LJ.)

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