Tuesday, November 20, 2007

LXG: Black Dossier Review

Unlike the material itself, this is going to be relatively short and sweet, because chances are you've already decided whether you're buying it or not.

I did.

On the plus side, you get outstanding production values, James Bond, Harry Lime, and a reference to The Thirty-Nine Steps while following Allan Quatermain and Mina through post-Orwellian 1950s England.

On the down side, the story makes little sense after the first read-through, less after a second, and none after a third. The last fifth of the book is told entirely in 3-D (yes, glasses are included) and goes completely off the rails more or less, by having our characters end up in some sort of fourth-dimensional Hub of Imaginary Characters... or something. I'm still not quite sure, although there's an immortal transsexual involved named Orlando.

What the Black Dossier is, really, is a short-ish Allan/Mina story bolstered by "official documents", "reprints of fictional magazines", "postcards", and other pseudo-documentary-type material that attempts to flesh out the "Leagueiverse".

And frankly, it's all a bit wearying, from the aforementioned "Orlando" piece to the porn-tastic Fanny Hill section, to the prose pieces that keep trying to halfheartedly drag the Cthulhu mythos into the action. I just got tired.

And I think that's probably got more to do with the fact that this book just seems so darned unnecessary. Yeah, the production qualities are nice, but cripes, the plot's just pointless, which I should have half suspected going into it anyway. The original LXG was darkly funny and a fresh twist at the time. This one? Well, it's dark, anyway.

I will say, though, that Kevin O'Neill is one goddamned versatile artist. His stuff continues to impress.

Anyhoo --- I know there are people who worship the toilet seat Moore sits on, but really I'd think that outside of a novelty/curiosity purchase this really isn't worth the time.

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6 Comments:

Blogger joncormier said...

Orlando is a book by Virginia Woolf about a young man that becomes a woman. I'm fairly certain I read it, but I can't remember much more than that other than it was actually quite an easy read.

6:47 AM  
Blogger Chris said...

Ah! Well, that explains that. Thanks!

I guess that's also kind of the problem I have with the book --- it's too much of a "Where's Waldo" of literary and cultural references and not enough of a coherent story.

I know this is exactly why some people love it, though. Just not my cup o' tea.

8:18 AM  
Blogger Jason said...

Where's Waldo is a very apt comparison. That said, I much prefer Mr. Moore's other Where's Waldo-esque ABC work: Top Ten.

The book was just too much damn work to get through, that said I'm glad I got it (for super-cheap at Amazon). Hopefully the next volume will get back into the swing of things.

8:08 PM  
Anonymous Van said...

I couldn't have liked it less, I don't think. The way I saw it, Alan Moore was trying to symbolically wrest the whole of fiction away from copyright holders and into his own hands.

2:40 PM  
Blogger Patrick C said...

With the exception of James Bond (who is only ever referred to as "Jimmy") I think all the characters are in the public domain. The copyrights on pretty much everyone appearing the book have expired.

5:22 PM  
Blogger kelvingreen said...

Not over here! Which is why the book is technically unavailable.

I adore v2 of LOEG, but it's less to do with the cleverness of the whole thing, and more to do with Hyde and Nemo and the gang fighting Wells' Martians. I get the feeling that Black Dossier is more of the cleverness, and less of the pulp fun.

11:15 AM  

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