The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: The Black Dossier

I did not like this book. There was not enough comic to it.

I’m past the point where it’s fun to read comics that feel like homework. The lengthy text sections, mimicking the styles of other, well-known writers, I skipped entirely, because they were overwhelming. I was quite pleased to see, when I went to read the annotations immediately afterwards, that Jess Nevins had done the same thing on one section.

The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: The Black Dossier cover
The League of Extraordinary
Gentlemen: The Black Dossier
Buy this book

It felt like a book that needed Nevins’ Cliff Notes to be enjoyable, or maybe I was just hoping that if I got the references and in-jokes, I’d find a reason to enjoy it. I didn’t, although the Night character needed the outside explanation to make sense. (That’s a flaw.)

There was also, and this seems like an odd thing to say, too much sex in it. I’d already read Lost Girls, so I didn’t particularly need to see more of Mr. Moore’s fantasies about unrestrained (or restrained, in some cases) women and their excessive amounts of sexual adventuring. Here we get both Fanny Hill and Orlando, who is a man part of the time, in sections that read like outtakes from that other book. (At least rape was not a prominent plot point this time around, unlike in the previous LoEG book, which was outright distasteful.)

I also, and I cringe at the potential response to this but I’m going to say it anyway, outgrew this kind of fanfiction years ago. When I was a kid, my impulse was to match up the casts of favorite TV shows (because I was a child of the 80s). It’s not that much more clever when Mr. Moore does it with literary figures, except in his case, you need a scorecard to recognize some of the more obscure ones. It’s also not very creative to think that simply having character A from book series B meet character C from TV series D makes for sufficient story. It doesn’t.

You know, I read this twice (once plain, once with annotations) three hours ago and now I don’t remember the ending. Oh, yes, right, it was one we’d already seen in Promethea, about all the fictional worlds opening up into a land of imagination … only this time, in 3-D. Which is silly, because the obsessives waiting for this book aren’t going to open up the glasses and read it the way it’s designed. (I know I didn’t.)

I did like the opening Underground map for credits, with the puns and the jokes about artists being late and the ABC line ended. But that’s because I have a board game based on the real map that I played for years, so I was already familiar with the source material. Which seems to be a prerequisite.

Stop being so clever, Mr. Moore, and write stories with real plots with your own characters.

(A complimentary copy for this review was provided by the publisher.)

Similar Posts: Speculation on Alan Moore’s Dossier Record § Alan Moore’s Exit Interview § *From Hell — Recommended § Top 10: The Forty-Niners § Black Dossier Record Missing Again


42 Responses to “The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: The Black Dossier”

  1. Thomas Gerhardt Says:

    As with everything Moore does, he takes an idea to its very extreme, logical conclusion. I’m sometimes not even certain anymore if it is just his way of making fun of all the chronic continuity masturbators in “mainstream” comic books, and I imagine him to sit in his study, almost in a Robert Crumb kind of way, snarling and laughing: “MUAHAHAHAHA! You want a shared universe!?! I’ll give you a f**king shared universe! In fact, I’ll give you the shared universe to END all shared universes!”

    LoEG has ALWAYS been Moore’s “fan fiction”, the “nudge nudge wink wink” type of stuff that never actually told a STORY, but was: “hey, look, these other guys, they may know all about Action # 213, but ME, I know EVERYTHING about EVERYBODY!”

    Even in Lost Girls, it was NOT a good book on its own merits, and one can prove that by simply doing the following: remove ALL the literary allusions to well-known children’s book characters and it turns from “how daring” to “so, we have three women in a hotel, screwing around”.

    Moore, and he most certainly is one of the best craftsmen in the comic book realm, has unfortunately with very few exceptions (V for Vendetta is one, Big Numbers WOULD have been another) always been more interested in DE-constructing pre-existing ideas (Watchmen, which is brilliantly written, but needs to have an understanding of superhero mythology to work…) instead of CREATING something entirely new.

    Even From Hell is a deconstruction, again, brilliantly crafted, but still just a deconstruction of every Jack the Ripper myth ever written or reported.

    And while I still marvel, both from a professional as well as from a reader’s standpoint, at the structural intricacies, the overall construction of plot and the connection of dialogue, visuals and narrative pacing…

    … I have come to the unfortunate conclusion that, creatively, Alan Moore is empty. Kind of like Warren-Ellis-empty (who is revisting all his greatest hits, like a K-Tel tele-marketed collection) with his newer titles, or Stephen-King-empty (if I read in one more blurb that it is the story of a “haunted bestselling author”, I am going to take a sledge hammer, fly up to Bangor and go HULK! SMASH! on Mr. King’s keyboard)

    I agree with you, Johanna.

  2. Tim O'Shea Says:

    Moore boiled down (in this instance) to being a writer of fan fiction. Heh. The response to this should be fun, Johanna. I don’t disagree, particularly after reading this post.

  3. Pedro Tejeda Says:

    I remember telling my friend when he picked this up that I found LEOG 2 to be continuity porn for the literary set and I just wasn’t into that type of thing at all personally, so I had no intention of picking this book up.

    I don’t really have anything against this type of book since this isn’t Moore’s only output like other writers.

  4. Dave Says:

    Thank you! I only made it halfway through the first mini-series years ago and lost interest. Very clever concept but (your homework analogy is spot-on) just not any fun.

    Fan-fiction: back in college, a couple of my stoner buds and I came up with an idea for a movie that would feature Bill & Ted (of Excellent Adventure fame), Wayne & Garth (Wayne’s World), Doug & Bob McKenzie (Strange Brew) and Jeff Spicoli (Fast Times…) all meeting up and… um… Well, we were wasted when we came up with the idea so it never got beyond the “low concept.” Just a lot of pre-existing characters with no plot. Probably sitting around eating pizza and saying “dude” a lot. Just like me and my buds.

    Alan Moore is better-read than I’ll ever be and has access to far better doobage than I ever did but, really, what’s the difference other than that?

  5. Johanna Says:

    I bet you’d get an audience for that movie! Full of people like you and your buds. (Intentional pun?)

  6. 4thletter! » Blog Archive » CWR on LoEG Says:

    [...] Johanna Draper Carlson nails one of my problems with Alan Moore’s latest works. I also, and I cringe at the potential response to this but I’m going to say it anyway, outgrew this kind of fanfiction years ago. When I was a kid, my impulse was to match up the casts of favorite TV shows (because I was a child of the 80s). It’s not that much more clever when Mr. Moore does it with literary figures, except in his case, you need a scorecard to recognize some of the more obscure ones. It’s also not very creative to think that simply having character A from book series B meet character C from TV series D makes for sufficient story. It doesn’t. [...]

  7. Sarah Says:

    Eh. Sounds to me like the problem isn’t that it’s fan-fictiony (because, um, every single corporate franchise comic is writers playing with other people’s characters in someone else’s universe, and I really see no aesthetic reason not to call it all fanfic), but that Moore thinks that’s enough to sell the book, without real story or emotion. That’s a hallmark of bad fan-fiction. It’s also a hallmark of DC (especially) these days.

  8. Johanna Says:

    It’s true, people only call it fanfic when it’s bad or disappointing.

  9. felix Says:

    I have to take exception to the idea that ‘creatively, Alan Moore is empty’. Come on people, Moore is probably the best comic book writer ever. He has created many amazing original characters from D.R. and Quinch through Hellblazer to Tom Strong.

    It’s true he likes to take existing characters and re-imagine them, but thats partly from necessity since in comic-books there are a limited number of characters.

  10. david brothers Says:

    It’s true he likes to take existing characters and re-imagine them, but thats partly from necessity since in comic-books there are a limited number of characters.

    This is untrue, there are an infinite number of characters in comics. You just have to make them up.

    Alan Moore can do this. Pastiche and homage get old after a while.

  11. Thomas Gerhardt Says:

    Although, one must say, the above mentioned argumentation by Felix does seem to become the norm in a multitude of industries, filled with lazy people that have a Harvard of yale degree and learned writing by watching “Friends” re-runs. Eh. We can’t have new things. There is a limited amount of creativity, and sorry, kids, but we reached it. It’s kind of like the oil supply, but less dirty. And cheaper. At least that kind of thinking explains “Why Hollywood Is Out Of Ideas, Part 10092832″

    Mr. Bay, why do a sequel to a film that is based on a cartoon that was based on a toy line from the 1980s?

    “In movies, there are a limited number of characters”

    Hm. Well. Ah. Now to you, Mr. Dickens. I hear you are writing a sequel to Great Expectations? Called Still Expecting?

    “In novels, there are a limited number of characters.”

    Mr. Shakespeare. Care to explain the finite creative resources in stage play? I mean, you never wrote anything after Love’s Labour Won?

    “I realised I couldn’t come up with new characters anymore. ‘Tis a tedious work”

  12. felix Says:

    “…since in comic-books there are a limited number of characters”.

    Okay looks like I need to defend my not very well written phrase for the more pedantic. What I meant to say was that in the mainstream comic-book industry as we know it (i.e. Marvel and DC) there are a limited amount of titles. Therefore writers are often asked to work on existing characters (e.g. swamp-thing which Moore completely revolutionized). All comic-book writers do this – this is not shocking news surely. The fact that Moore has such great success re-imagining superheros probably led to his re-use of the same technique in other genres.

    I don’t see how anyone can accuse Moore of being lazy and/or un-original.

  13. Rich Johnston Says:

    “write stories with real plots with your own characters”.

    This is an LOEG sourcebook. While that may be a valid criticism for other Alan Moore work, it seems peculiar to attach it to this, when it’s kind of the point.

    Oh and PG Lovecraft is rather fun…

  14. Christopher Butcher Says:

    Johanna- Reading the review the thing that jumped out at me was that you refused to engage the work. You didn’t read big sections of it fearing that they’d be overwhelming, you didn’t like the sex stuff because you didn’t like the sex stuff in one of his other books, and you didn’t even bother to read the 3-d section in 3-D because… well, for no reason stated actually, but you did take a swipe at “Obsessives”.

    I don’t particularly care if you liked it or not, we disagree on the relative quality or success of comics all the time. But this? You didn’t even TRY, and that’s not terribly fair to the work, or to me as a reader of review, or really to yourself (because there’s a lot of good stuff in there that you, in particular, would enjoy).

    My two cents.

    - Christopher

  15. Johanna Says:

    Why should I work to meet the quasi-comic’s demands when I have literally hundreds of other comics and graphic novels I expect to enjoy waiting for me? Isn’t entertainment supposed to serve my needs, not the other way around?

    (And it’s not “didn’t like the sex stuff” in another book, it’s “thought the sex stuff was too repetitive” of the other book. And I took a swipe at obsessives because I’m one, too — I didn’t want to damage my book removing the 3-d specs.)

    What’s the good stuff I’d enjoy? THAT’s the argument to make in response to “I don’t think I’d enjoy this enough to justify the work required.”

  16. Michael Denton Says:

    I unfortunately have to agree with Rich on this – this is primarily a sourcebook with a little bit of story thrown in. As a sourcebook, it’s probably one of the best I’ve seen since the information is presented in an original and entertaining format. Some of the text is dense, but a surprising amount is good fun and quite readable.

  17. Rich Johnston Says:

    >Why should I work to meet the quasi-comic’s demands when I have literally hundreds of other comics and graphic novels I expect to enjoy waiting for me? Isn’t entertainment supposed to serve my needs, not the other way around?

    Some, yes. Not all. Some make demands on the reader. That’s not always a bad thing. Watchmen is one, Promethea another, and the first chapter of Voice Of The Fire, definitely.

  18. david brothers Says:

    When you guys say that BD is a sourcebook, do you mean in the Who’s Who In the LoEG Universe sense or some other sense I’m not familiar with? This is the first I’ve heard the term in relation to the book. It’d always seemed like “the next chapter in the franchise,” judging by all the press leading up to it.

  19. Christopher Says:

    “Why should I work to meet the quasi-comic’s demands when I have literally hundreds of other comics and graphic novels I expect to enjoy waiting for me?”

    Because you reviewed it. No one’s forcing you to read anything, but then no one’s forcing you to post about it either. If you’re going to review a work, you should at least do the work the service of actually reading it before writing it off. Otherwise your commentary carries the weight of someone reviewing a bande desinee without knowing French but still being disatisfied with the story… You might be right, but why would I take your opinion seriously?

    As for the good stuff you’d enjoy, I think the specific passages recommended to you here (the PG Wodehouse homage, the history of great britain as seen through the eyes of it’s great fantasy writers, the development of the character of Orlando from start to finish) are all right up your alley, but I have a feeling that you’ve been soured on the experience now by out exchange, don’t bother with any of the recommendations here.

    This really isn’t about liking or disliking the book though; both Kevin Church and Jog had serious problems with it and outlined their positions–some of which even match up with your own–but they’re speaking from a position of actually having engaged the work. I think that’s a pretty key difference between their reviews and your own.

    Separately, but related, why on earth would you make the argument that entertainment should only “serve your needs”? Entertainment and literature should most certainly challenge, provoke, and make demands on the reader! If you choose to only read work that’s easy and reaffirms your worldview and tastes, that’s your business, but it certainly isn’t a philosophy that I’d celebrate.

    What’s going on with this review Johanna? This really isn’t like you.

    - Chris

  20. Johanna Says:

    I think you’re bringing a large number of your own preconceptions to play here, Chris, and if this was any other sourcebook than one by the great Mr. Moore, the whole discussion would be silly.

    Of course work can be challenging, and that can be rewarding… but here, I don’t expect the value of the challenge to live up to the great deal of work needed. (A view born out by the other poor reviews the book’s gotten.) It’s not “I’m lazy”, it’s more of a cost/benefit analysis. In less economic terms, of course — I don’t expect this to be entertaining enough to justify pouring more of my time into it.

    And I’m sure you know that “this was so boring I didn’t want to finish it” IS a review, and a valid one. You ask “what’s going on” and I think the answer may be: if this didn’t have Mr. Moore’s name on it, it wouldn’t even have gotten published, let alone be defended to this extent. The mystique of the author is the Emperor’s New Clothes.

  21. Tom Siebert Says:

    Kudos to this brave review, and nailing it dead with “The Emperor Has No Clothes.” (although Moore actually has clothes much of the time, he just would prefer to romp au natural in this case, thinking nobody would call him on it)

    After such a long wait, this was a staggering disappointment. I applaud the ambition to a certain extent, but in the end, what’s the point of that ambition? For Alan Moore to show off how much he knows? To tear down arguably the greatest British fictional icon of the 20th Century in James Bond? To fulfill Moores’ naughty fantasies in a mainstream book?

    This project reeks to me of one of those big Hollywood bombs where a star or director gets carte blanche to do whatever they want and the end result is a navel-gazing mess. I’m not saying this is a failure alongs the lines of “Battlefield Earth” — the story has its moments and some of the Black Dossier material is diverting (though not nearly enough of it) — but it is a failure nonetheless.

    Noting the ending (less effectively) apes the end of “Promethea” is also a great point. I actually thought the ending of the book was one of its best points, and a subtly unsettling one, since much current pop fiction is apocalyptic in nature, but it’s just Moore banging the same drum, only louder.

    Good for you, Johanna. I’ve never read or heard of you before, but this piece is quite excellent in its ability to be smart and succinct. I look forward to reading you more in the future.

    tws

  22. Christopher Says:

    “I think you’re bringing a large number of your own preconceptions to play here, Chris, and if this was any other sourcebook than one by the great Mr. Moore, the whole discussion would be silly.”

    I’m bringing significantly fewer of my own preconceptions to this discussion than you brought to your review, Johanna. As for the work itself, it’s a formally, narratively, and productionally ambitious comics work on its own merits, and that Moore is attached is icing. Of course, there was another creator attached, The Artist, Kevin O’Neil, whom you failed to mention at all, nor did you engage the art at all in your review. I think that’s kind of telling as to how much work you put into this.

    As for other reviews of the books acting as justifications for your lack of involvement in the material, why did you bother reviewing it then? You’re the one sitting on hundreds of other comics and graphic novels, and a free copy is no obligation to post a review. If you went in not expecting to enjoy this at all, and then didn’t read even bother to read it all the way through, then I’ve gotta ask what the point is? Because this? This is sloppy as all hell, all kinds of criticism without foundation…

    If the point is, as you allude in your final paragraph, to take Moore down a peg, then you could’ve been as honest about that in the review as you’ve been here in the comments. The mystique of the author is built upon a critically and financially sound body of work, which is about as far away as the “emperor’s new clothes” as one can get. If the work is a failure, then it’s a failure in a continuum of otherwise excellent or interesting work (as both Jog, and Kevin have pointed out). It’s not a failure because you have a beef with Moore (or his mystique).

    - Christopher

  23. Johanna Says:

    Welcome, Tom, and thanks for checking out the site.

    Chris, it’s obvious we’re talking past each other. I put up the post because I read the book, I had some thoughts on it, and that’s what this site is FOR. It’s gotten many responses, which tells me that readers were interested in talking about the book.

    I think the book’s a failure because it’s not interesting or thought-provoking, it’s navel-gazing. You disagree, fine. That’s why you have a site (and the chance to comment here). If you want to crusade against those reviews you think are sloppy, well, there’s a huge internet out there with a ton of targets for you.

    None of this is convincing me that my opinion on the work was wrong or shouldn’t have been expressed the way it was. You’re not engaging my review, you’re calling me names for not living up to *your* standards. Which is flattering, in that you think I should do and am capable of better, but I don’t think we were aiming for the same things.

  24. John Says:

    I liked the book, for what it’s worth – though I also admit it’s mostly a naughty parlor game for Mr. Moore and not really a fully-realized story. Or navel gazing, yeah, but some navel gazing can be interesting to some people, but terribly boring to others, so I entirely understand what you are saying about it. The way I look at it is I have always loved Peter Greenaway, particularly many of his earlier, more abstract film works. Many of my closest friends find the same films to be tediously self indulgent. Takes all kinds! At least you’re thinking, which means the book gave you something, you know?

    I will say that this is a cautionary tale in reviewing works that you probably know you won’t like before you go into it (I imagine that a quick flip through it reveals, yeah, not much in the way of comics in there) – and I sympathize. I’m very selective about what I review (both in the paper and on my web site) largely because of means – really, there’s only so much I can do and only so much I can get ahold of in a timely fashion – and also because at a certain point, I became more interested in writing essays about works that I found worthy than critiques of things I found lacking. Partly this is selfish, but also it’s because I came to a decision where I decided that promoting the positive – that is, the best, most interesting in any creative medium – was the best way to promote the same – often, when you tear things down, it ends up speaking only to the converted, but a recommendation travels uch further, I have found.

    On the other hand, I do remember both The Polar Express and Zathura and, totally unplanned for each, I decided that they deserved to have new assholes ripped in a daily newspaper because I found them so heinous. Sometimes, it cannot be helped – you feel that some things really need to be taken down a few pegs, you need to say something. Which is what I think you felt here and I applaud you for that, even as I disagree with the actual opinions about the book. I respect the clarity of your arguments, though.

  25. Rational mad man Says:

    Amen.
    And Amen.
    And Amen.

  26. Johanna Says:

    We’re very much in sympathy, John… except for the bit about the book itself. :)

  27. Chris G. Says:

    One point I don’t think I’ve seen made elsewhere is this: With the Black Dossier, the game of putting all these different characters together has reached the point of making them and their world smaller, not bigger. 1984, for instance, loses much of its power if it’s merely a political aberration that takes power for a few years before being swept aside for a new world full of rocketships — the book’s scary because the boot is on the face forever, not until the next internal party coup.

  28. Johanna Says:

    What an insightful point! Thanks for that. Something to think about.

  29. Johnny Donuts Says:

    The reviewer wrote (inexplicably): “I also, and I cringe at the potential response to this but I’m going to say it anyway, outgrew this kind of fanfiction years ago.”

    And cringe you should: As if writing the entire first act of a “lost” play by William Shakespeare, and pulling it off beautifully, were somehow comparable to your own childhood scribblings about Charles In Charge babysitting Punky Brewster. Utterly laughable. And then, refusing to quit while you’re so far behind, actually going on to say that Moore’s dizzying accomplishment here — to say absolutely nothing of the rest of his magnificent and challenging book — is something you’ve “outgrown.” So preposterous, it’s downright adorable, like a small child blinking perplexedly at work by Picasso, turning to her mother in the gallery and saying, “I can do better than THAT, mama!”

  30. Johanna Says:

    Hey, prediction fulfilled! Thanks for being predictable.

    You’ve given me grounds for a new principle: if someone skips criticizing points from the review to go straight to criticizing the critic, then they’re admitting that they can’t intelligently refute the points.

    Your comment boils down to: it doesn’t matter if it’s fanfic is the great Moore does it. Which, hey, you’re entitled to think. Me, I don’t like it no matter how much of a rep the writer has.

  31. Johnny Donuts Says:

    Tom typed: “What’s the point to that ambition…to tear down arguably the greatest British fictional icon of the 20th Century in James Bond?”

    Aw, that prat had it coming. Seeing “Jimmy” get his ass kicked again and again by the last two surviving members of The League was more than enough to justify the price of admission for me. I could even hear his theme music playing in the background when, gazing out over the airstrip and spotting Mina and Allan fleeing in the distance, he said to himself, “All right, let’s go,” before drawing his gun and hopping the rail to the asphalt below. Then to have Allan shoot the bastard with his trusty elephant gun…I loved it! And if that weren’t enough, thanks to Moore’s book I’ll never look at Bond’s great nemesis Dr. No the same way again…for, as we all know now, there WAS no Doctor. Brilliant stuff! But don’t feel so bad for ol’ “Jimmy”: He got the girl in the end, after all, both figuratively and literally.

  32. Fascination Place » This Week’s Haul Says:

    [...] I didn’t even read the bulk of the text sections for that very reason. Snooze. I agree with Johanna Carlson’s observation that the book feels too much like homework much of the time, and that’s no fun. It feels very [...]

  33. Johnny Donuts Says:

    Johanna said: “Your comment boils down to: it doesn’t matter if it’s fanfic if the great Moore does it. Which, hey, you’re entitled to think. Me, I don’t like it no matter how much of a rep the writer has.”

    Hamlet, Macbeth, King Lear, Romeo & Juliet, Othello — not one of these characters was created by William Shakespeare; he swiped them all from somewhere or somebody else. Applying your logic to this fact, Shakespeare was a writer of fanfic, too. Taking your logic one step further, you don’t like any of the works these characters appear in because of this fact and couldn’t care less about the “rep” the writer has. Shakespeare’s greatest plays were all works of fanfic. Therefore, all of Shakespeare’s plays suck and you’ve, like, so totally “outgrown” them.

    Now, you see how silly you’re being here? I’m not asking you to thank me for pointing this out to you. I’m just doing it out of the kindness of my own heart.

  34. Johanna Says:

    I’d call Shakespeare a fanfic writer, too, if he decided to have Romeo & Juliet turn out not to be really dead and team up with Hamlet to defeat Lear and Henry V. (Sorry, I don’t know enough about Othello to work him into this little scenario.) Go right ahead building your little strawmen, though. They’re entertaining in their silliness.

  35. M Says:

    The opinion discloses the ignorance of the author when he overlooks alan moore’s achievements and gives a value judgement out of purely subjective, irrelevant and meaningless.

    Too bad.

  36. Rational mad man Says:

    And cringe you should: As if writing the entire first act of a “lost” play by William Shakespeare, and pulling it off beautifully, were somehow comparable to your own childhood scribblings about Charles In Charge babysitting Punky Brewster. Utterly laughable. And then, refusing to quit while you’re so far behind, actually going on to say that Moore’s dizzying accomplishment here — to say absolutely nothing of the rest of his magnificent and challenging book — is something you’ve “outgrown.” So preposterous, it’s downright adorable, like a small child blinking perplexedly at work by Picasso, turning to her mother in the gallery and saying, “I can do better than THAT, mama!”

    ==========================================

    Observe the inane twiitering of the arthouse snob.

  37. Sarah Says:

    …And people wonder why there aren’t more women in the comics blogosphere.

    Rational mad man, a real art house snob would at least be able to engage with the argument critically instead of attempting to slay it from a distance with lofty disdain! This guy’s just a wannabe.

  38. David Thiel Says:

    I’m coming to the party late, but I just wanted to say that I really appreciated your take on this. I was feeling guilty about skipping the text sections until I came here.

    I “read” the book over the holidays (my review is at http://slithytoves.sytes.net/~dthiel/ravings.php?wl_mode=more&wl_eid=410) and just felt completely overwhelmed. After the first text piece and the rambling, uninvolving “Orlando” comics insert, I found myself unwilling to wade into the other diversions from the main storyline. Like you, I found the potential reward for plowing through page after page of faithfully reproduced archaic prose not worth the time necessary to parse it. I’ve never enjoyed reading real Shakespeare, so an authentically obtuse Shakespearean pastiche ain’t my idea of a good time.

    Ultimately, the real problem with the “Black Dossier” is that the game of “spot the ridiculously obscure reference” that had been fun when it was going on in the background of the previous two volumes here becomes the entire thing. And yet, despite the ’50s setting, I probably got fewer of them this time, either because Moore was deliberately obscuring them to avoid copyright hassles, or because he drew so frequently on unfamiliar British pop culture.

    Chris G. above makes an excellent point that Moore’s use of “1984″ neuters its impact. I would take it a step further: if ALL fictional characters (except, for some reason, Doctor No) really exist in a single, shared reality, none of them have any meaning. As I put it in my review, “When Adam Strange, Dagwood Bumstead and Dobie Gillis can team up to face the combined threat of Count Yorga, Count Chocula and Count Dooku, it’s just pointless madness.”

  39. Eric Maywar Says:

    I loved the Black Dossier. But before I tell you why, let me say, I agree with many of Joanna’s observations. I thought the plot here was the thinnest of the three collections (essentially Mina and Alan grab the Dossier and return it to the Blazing Worlds).

    I don’t care so much that there’s a lot of sex and I don’t care if it is a type of fanfiction. If it is done well, then great. The problem with those eighties shows is that the writing was poor.

    Part of me agrees with Joanna about the inserts, but the other part of me (who reads Tolstoy and Hammet) mocks that first part for being lazy and needing pictures. I do get myself into a certain mindset when I pick up a comic book that is different that picking up Umberto Eco–but the wonderful stuff at the end of League #2 warned me not to be like that with Alan Moore.

    That said, while I think it was another brilliant comic, I liked the first two better because the plot was better.

  40. Eric Maywar Says:

    Hi Joanna,

    Try the 3-D glasses. besides being cool on it’s own right, there’s a point where a Lovecraftian entity can be seen where, if you close your right eye, it is speaking jibberish and looks like Cthulu, but if you close your left eye, it looks humanish and is speaking English. Brilliant!

    Eric

  41. Black Dossier Record Missing Again » Comics Worth Reading Says:

    [...] the much-delayed League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: The Black Dossier was supposed to be a deluxe package that included a 45 RPM single. Those features were cut back in [...]

  42. Speculation on Alan Moore’s Dossier Record » Comics Worth Reading Says:

    [...] reported here in July, the Absolute Edition of The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: The Black Dossier was supposed to contain a recording of Alan Moore songs that fit into the story, but DC removed it. [...]

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