The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, by Alan Moore
Originally published as a six-issue serial in 1999-2001, The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen (Volume One) is a compelling and exciting graphic novel, centering on a "Justice League"-like super group of classic literary heroes from the 19th century. Written by Alan Moore (Watchmen; V For Vendetta) and illustrated by Kevin O'Neill, League focuses on the formation of the title group and their first mission to protect England from horrible disaster. In 1898, on orders from British Intelligence, now-elderly adventurer Allan Quartermain (H. Rider Haggard's King Solomon's Mines & other novels), Mina Harker (Bram Stoker's Dracula), Captain Nemo (Jules Verne's 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea), Robert Louis Stevenson's Dr. Henry Jekyll (and friend), and H. G. Wells' "The Invisible Man", band together to retrieve a rare element (discovered in Wells' novel The First Men in the Moon) from a mysterious Asian crime lord (unnamed due to legal reasons, but clearly Sax Rohmer's "Dr. Fu Manchu"). But the League quickly discovers that another infamous evil mastermind (readers of Arthur Conan Doyle's "The Final Problem" will know who) has plans to use this element to destroy the Asian criminal and his organization, as well as most of London in the process. Will the League be able to overcome their differences and prevent a potential tragedy? At time dark and grim, but with generous bits of black humor, League is a thrill ride from beginning to end. Moore and O'Neill convey a creepy atmosphere while deftly juggling various characters and concepts along the way, they expand the individual back stories of the protagonists. The Invisible Man is now even more depraved than he had been in Wells' original novel; Dr. Jekyll's alter ego Mr. Hyde has become as big and strong as The Incredible Hulk; and Mina Harker must overcome nasty slurs from the various male characters regarding her sex and situation (things ended badly after the events with Count Dracula) to lead the team in reaching their objective. Add to this mix some great anachronisms like "airships" and cameos by other famous 19th century literary figures (Pollyanna?!?), and the result is a terrific adventure thriller that pays tribute to its sources while presenting them in a more contemporary shade.