The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Vol. 1

The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Vol. 1

Many years ago I saw the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen movie, and remember hearing fans of the book outraged at the treatment. After reading the first volume, I think I can begin to see why. Every character exists in their own shade of grey here. While at first there seem "good guys" and "bad guys," at times the distinction seems wholly beside the point. This is not your average spy story, but rather a story where that formula is used to ask questions about authority and morality. The story follows the founding of this ill-suited group: Mina Murray (ex-Harker) who is in charge of rounding them up, Captain Nemo, Alan Quartermain, an opium addicted relic, Dr. Jeckyll and his alter-ego Mr. Hyde, and the lecherous invisible man, Hawley Grffin. They aren't told why they're being assembled, or whom they truly work for. All they are told is that, in the uncertain times at the brink of the twentieth century, Britain needs them. Doubts surround them, many of the well founded, but they do their duty to their country. Nothing turns out to be as it seems. Dichotomous notions of good and bad are twisted and turned. There's plenty of mystery and intrigue. Is what they're doing really in the interest of the greater good, and who makes that call? It is also worth noting that the extended prose story, "Allan and the Sundered Veil" that is at the end of the graphic novel is well worth reading, and provides some backstory that is useful for the second volume in the series.