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League of Extraordinary Gentlemen II #3

Posted: Sunday, September 29, 2002
By: Ray Tate



Writer: Alan Moore
Artist: Ed O'Neil, Ben Dimagmaliw(c)
Publisher: DC

Having the Martians from H.G. Welles War of the Worlds just tear through London town would have been a dull affair. Imagine an entire story of Daleks crying "Ex-ter-min-ate!" while blasting passerby without having the Doctor toss his hat on an eyestalk before seeing to their termination, and you'll understand how boring such a story would be.

Alan Moore understands the inevitability of pending defeat must be felt, but he uses the staid acts of England preparing for a war they cannot in and scenes of destruction as the backdrop of a more disturbing character study.

Invisibility was always considered a passive, ineffectual power in comic books. It probably was an episode of Batman: The Animated Series in which the Dark Knight is soundly beaten by an invisible man voiced by of all people Mr. Keaton from Family Ties that changed how invisibility was treated in fiction: taking it back to its roots. Mr. Moore removes the Disney from the power and shows the madness and lawlessness inherent in such an ability.

Ed O'Neil abets Mr. Moore with an unflinching display of violence. The violation, though not sexual it is still a violation, presented in this issue of the League sharply contrasts the Invisible Man's behavior at the girls school where we first meet him. Those early scenes were presented as a burlesque. The scene in issue three is displayed as criminal.

The descent into Griffin's madness allows Mr. Moore to deepen the characterization of Mr. Hyde. Far from the dark side of humanity, Mr. Hyde seems to be an entity unto himself both bad and good. He's presented here as the most rounded and dimensional version of the literary creature. Indeed, he may in fact represent our primitive self, but the view of how our ancestors behaved has changed from the Victorian misconception. Mr. Moore keeps Hyde's thoughts to the character. What I infer from the moody artwork is fear. Hyde fears becoming like Griffin, or perhaps he feels disgust for he feels that he is already like Griffin and capable of the same acts.

League of Extraordinary Gentlemen is much more meaningful than a clash of nostalgia of the type found in fan fiction. It is art and literature that honors the source while making insightful observations.



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