Saturday, 16 April 2011

More on Comics, Part 3 (Graphic Novels - Alan Moore)

Alan Moore has written some of my favourite comic series. It took me quite a long time to be aware of his work, but various movies; The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen and V for Vendetta piqued my interest in his comics. I bought the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen first, mainly as individual comics, but I gradually began to purchase the comics in graphic novel form, such as the Vol 1 and 2 above. Volume 1 tells the story of Allan Quartermain, Captain Nemo, Hawley Griffin, Dr Henry Jekyll, Mr Edward Hyde and Mina Murray, who make up the League. They are recruited by Campion Bond, under orders from 'M' and pressed into service by their empire in a time of need. They must battle the Doctor and his vile plan for world domination.  Volume 2 is set in London in 1898 and this time the League must battle a new threat that falls from the upper atmosphere in gargantuan metal cylinders. Leading scientists claim that the cylinders have travelled from Mars.

Both stories are very adult and quite detailed. Moore's characters are pulled from Victorian adventure stories written by H. Rider Haggard - Alan Quartermain, Jules Verne - Capt Nemo, Robert Lewis Stevenson - Dr Jekyll and many others as he intertwines the characters in great adventures.

There have been two other graphic novels in the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen series; Century 1910.  In this story, Mina Murray and Allan Quartermain, enlivened by the Fountain of Youth, investigate bloody murders in London's docklands while Janni, the daughter of one of their former colleagues, Captain Nemo, takes her bloody and satisfying vengeance upon the foulest kind of humanity.

This all takes place with Halley's Comet soaring overhead and the nation preparing for King George V's coronation. The hero and heroines must battle a cult trying to create the Moonchild and at the same time a notorious serial killer striking terror on London's dockside.

The Black Dossier is set in 1958. Events take place after the fall of the Big Brother government from George Orwell's 1984. Once again Allan Quartermain and Mina Harker, who are immortal after bathing in the fire from H. Rider Haggard's She, are on a quest to find the Black Dossier, which unravels the history of the now-disbanded League.

Out to stop them is a trio of secret agents from other books and TV series: brutally womanizing young spy Jimmy AKA James Bond, a young agent named Emma Night AKA Emma Peel of The Avengers and Bulldog Drummond. The pursuit takes Mina and Allan from London to Scotland and eventually to the magical world of Prospero.

There were copyright issues with this story and it was not 'officially' put on sale in Canada or the UK.

The next Allan Moore series that caught my interest was The Watchmen. Once again, this was because of the movie. I had seen the graphic novel during many visits to my various comic book stores, and when I saw that there was to be a movie, I bought the graphic novel to familiarize myself with the story and characters.

The Watchmen was originally published between 1986 and 1987. In the story, the Watchmen were famous fighting for the US during the War years but have since been outlawed and are either retired or working for the government. The murder of one of them, The Comedian. This brings out Rorschach who believes he's discovered a plot to kill all of the other Watchmen, so he warns four of them; Nite Owl, Doctor Manhattan, Silk Spectre and Ozymandias.

The story is very intricate and explores the emotions and feelings of the characters, looking at their past and how they have changed or not and moving the story along very nicely. It's an extremely interesting concept and I enjoyed it tremendously. It did help to explain the movie, having read the graphic novel, but I think it was an interesting movie in its own right.

I think my favourite Alan Moore series is Top 10, a cop show set in the city of Neopolis. As it states in the quick write up blurb, 'Imagine a city where every citizen, from poorest slum-dweller to corporate honcho, has unusual powers and abilities - not to mention an alter ego and costume. How would you police such a city? Rookie cop Robyn Slinger is about to find out in her first day as part of Precinct 105.

This is such a great series, quite out there, but with a very deadpan style, reminiscent of the TV series Dragnet, but with characters and police officers you've never seen anywhere else. The drawings are colorful and intricate and the stories have a lovely wit to them that draws you right in.

Alan Moore also did a prequel to Top 10 called The Forty-Niners. This story is set in 1949 and it explains the development of Neopolis, which is under construction to house all of those with extra-human talents and powers. The story this time centers around Steve Traynor, also known as Jetlad, fresh from the battles in Europe and anxious for a new career. Once again, lovely art work and interesting characters and story lines make this an excellent read.

Alan Moore has a knack for an interesting story that explores different worlds and concepts. I have recently begun reading his series begun in Jan 2011, the fourth volume of Neonomicon, a horror story which is quite graphic at times but still extremely interesting as it focusses on H.P. Lovecraft's universe.

If you want to read interesting, different comics, you've got to check out the work of Alan Moore.

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