Thursday, April 23, 2009

Even Alan Moore can screw up once in a while. Right?

Alan Moore's not perfect.

Yes, I know this is heresy. Moore, of course, is the writer behind some of the greatest graphic novels of all time, works of art such as Watchmen, V for Vendetta and, of course, the greatest run of Swamp Thing of all time.

Moore is also responsible for the amazing The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen and its long awaited sequel The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: The Black Dossier. The first is another hit, a work that once again proves that graphic novels and comic books, when done right, are as powerful as any prose novel. The second, unfortunately, is an indulgent, nearly unreadable mess.

Most people know the story behind The League. Famous characters in literature -- Allan Quartermain, Capt. Nemo, Dr. Jekyl and the Invisible Man -- band together to, basically, save the world. Along the way, they must overcome their own shortcomings.

The book is filled with snappy dialogue, amazing action and lots of dark humor. You also come to care for these characters, even if they don't necessarily resemble their more classic versions.

The Black Dossier, on the other hand, is a mess. Moore seems to throw everything at the pages here. There are lengthy excerpts from a book of adult -- read, "dirty" -- stories that aren't so much titillating as they are annoying. The characters, too, lack the zip of the original adventurers from the first volume.

There is one, and only one, bright spot in Black Dossier: James, or Jimmy, Bond. Moore depicts him as a failure-prone thug, a violent monster far unlike the suave agent played by Sean Connery or Daniel Craig.

If you're looking for great writing, check out 99 percent of Moore's work. (I'd stay away from the well-known Batman story The Killing Joke, though. It doesn't really hold up over time. From Hell, though, is amazing.) Don't, though, pick up the Black Dossier. Trust me on this one.

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