Tuesday, December 11, 2007
Be Still, My Beating Nerd Heart
I finally bought The Black Dossier, by Alan Moore, illustrated by Kevin O'Neill.
Words cannot express how I feel about this book.
First, some background information:
Around the turn of the century, renowned comic book legend Alan Moore (Watchmen, V for Vendetta, From Hell) came out with his newest project, a Victorian superhero team-up pastiche called The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. The premise was novel: in an alternate universe where works of art and entertainment have actually happened, a team of Victorian English sci-fi, horror, and adventure characters team up for government spec-ops. Thus started the illustrious second careers of Bram Stoker's Mina Murray, H. Rider Haggard's Allan Quatermain, Robert Louis Stevenson's Dr. Henry Jekyll (and his devilish counterpart, Edward Hyde), Jules Verne's Captain Nemo, and H.G. Well's Dr. Hawley "the Invisible Man" Griffin.
No one expected the dizzying nuance of Moore's new world, in which every single character comes from a pre-existing source, from a brief meeting with Edgar Allan Poe's C. Auguste Dupin, or Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's Prof. James Moriarty ending up as the main villain. In 2004, a sequel was released, this time set against the backdrop of (the original, 1898) War of the Worlds, and still darkening the tone by having Dr. Moreau assist the government in biological warfare, and Mr. Hyde viciously murder-raping the Invisible Man (he had a reason).
And so this is the new one, set sixty years after the end of the original (making this one in 1958, for you mathematicians out there). Featuring a narrative spanning from the dawn of time to the mid-twentieth century, and fantastic references from Cthulhu's place in creating the world, to Shakespeare's Prospero adventuring with Don Quixote, from Bertie and Jeeves obliviously battling Lovecraftian monsters to a young James Bond seducing a young Emma Peel, and being a Big Brother party symapthizer, The Black Dossier really exceeds all possible expectations, making it one of the most nuanced, complicated, and basically fun books released this year.
I highly recommend it if you haven't read it (read the first two first, if you haven't read those), as well as anything else Alan Moore has written. Alan Moore's a genius, you see...