Each week we take a critical
look at some of the books on the stands, courtesy of Big
Guy's Comics (the unofficial comic book store of FanboyPlanet.com).
If you publish a book that you want us to be covering, contact us. Or
contact Derek. He doesn't have
enough to do.
The League Of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Vol. 2 #1
writer: Alan Moore
artist: Kevin O'Neill
Less than a month
after shooting starts on the film adaptation of his concept, Alan Moore
manages to begin the second volume in the adventures of pretty much
every character ever created in late 19th century literature. For a
guy who seemingly couldn't care less about publicity, Moore's timing
is pretty good. And already, this second volume seems a little bit more
accessible, as he's expanded his source material to include early 20th
You still won't
know who everybody is, but at least now you have a better shot at it.
Actually, the main
thrust of this storyline involves H.G. Wells' The
War of the Worlds, and most readers will have at least a passing
familiarity with that. But though the established members of the League
do make a cursory appearance at the end of this first chapter, Moore
and Kevin O'Neill devote most of their time to the actual surface of
Mars. The characters who appear there may not likely show up again,
but it is apparently their actions that cause the aliens to try to conquer
Because Moore is
such a skillful writer, and O'Neill completely goes beautifully nuts
rendering the Martian scenes, this book would be a great read even if
you didn't know who everybody was supposed to be. As a service to Fanboy
Planet readers, I have done a little research and can explain at least
the main references.
The man dressed
in flowing, Arabian robes and using a flying carpet to travel across
the red sands of Mars is Lt. Gullivar Jones, from a novel published
in 1903 entitled Lieut. Gullivar Jones: His Vacation, later retitled
of Mars when it got a lurid paperback printing in the sixties.
(The title has stuck.) Written by Edwin Lester Arnold, the book has
many similarities to a later classic by Edgar Rice Burroughs.
a four-armed Martian soldier. Most likely this is Tars Tarkas, a savage
green warrior who takes Gullivar to meet Tarkas' best friend, a human.
That human would
be John Carter of Virginia, but better known as The Warlord of Mars.
In the back-up text piece in the first volume of The League of Extraordinary
Gentleman, Alan Quatermain encountered Carter in an ethereal other
dimension. Both Tars Tarkas and John Carter come from a series of novels
by Edgar Rice Burroughs, the first of which, A
Princess of Mars, was published in 1912. (The Princess, Dejah
Thoris, is apparently dead, a fate that did not befall her in Burroughs'
As an in-joke,
Moore has Jones and Carter discuss the ruins of an ancient Martian city
that dates from the Kane Dynasty. Though legend has it that Kane came
from the third planet, "Negalu," Carter thinks it merely coincidence
that Michael Kane sounds like an English name. In actuality, he's the
hero of a trilogy by Elric creator Michael Moorcock, Kane
of Old Mars, written in tribute to Burroughs and Arnold, originally
under the pseudonym of Edward P. Bradbury.
And then come
the tripods of H.G. Wells' classic novel, never rendered quite so
disgustingly well as by O'Neill. Despite the arcaneness of the literary
references, this first chapter is sweeping and exciting, all without
really giving the title characters anything to do.
Even with some
amazing abilities on the League's side, it's going to be interesting
to see how the heck they can combat the tripods and whatever other
horrors lie in wait. (There's a strong implication that the "Molluscs,"
as Carter calls them, dabble in genetic engineering, making traitorous
and monstrous soldiers out of prisoners.)
Once again, Moore
and O'Neill have hit one out of the ballpark. (Even with a back-up
text piece that does shed light on earlier incarnations of the team,
but has proven way too obscure for my Google searches.) We can only
hope that their schedule will be more regular this time around.