BooksOfTheMoon

DC Universe: The Stories of Alan Moore

By Alan Moore

Rating: 4 stars

Alan Moore has been one of the giants of comic books for thirty-odd years, and this book showcases some of his best work for DC Comics. Several of the stories are tender, some are funny, others are just odd, but there are a few which are disturbing. While The Killing Joke is justifiably a great story, it is very disturbing. There’s the casual violence towards Barbara Gordon, what happens to Commissioner Gordon, and, for me, especially the last few panels. Excellent storytelling, but disturbing.

I also found Father’s Day, a story of The Vigilante (a character I’ve never heard of) disturbing. It feels almost nihilistic in some ways, asking what the point of life is, in the same way as The Killing Joke. But Moore seems to answer himself in other stories. Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow and In Blackest Night both seem to be deeply humanist stories about survival, life and finding things to fight for.

There are also some very funny stories here. I really enjoyed the black humour in the Green Arrow story Night Olympics, while Brief Lives is a tale of how mighty empires mean nothing on some scales (reminding me of the story of the two mighty battle fleets swallowed by a dog in Douglas Adams’ wonderful Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. And Mogo Doesn’t Socialise is laugh-out-loud funny in its revelation.

Moore is a writer I have a lot of respect for. I find him difficult at times, but this collection showcases his flexibility and his versatility. Even if you’re not hugely familiar with the DC canon, it’s still damn fine storytelling, even if it is disturbing at times.

Book details

ISBN: 9781401209278
Publisher: DC Comics
Year of publication: 2003

The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: Black Dossier

By Alan Moore

Rating: 3 stars

In the early 1950s Britain is just throwing off the shackles of the totalitarian Ingsoc Big Brother government and two shadowy figures steal a dossier from Miniluv (formerly the MI5 headquarters at Vauxhall House). The dossier turns out to be regarding the “Murray Group”, star of the previous two League books (and the book itself consists of them reading the dossier), filling in background on the world and stories that we didn’t see, as well as other incarnations of the League before and after Murray’s time.

The most jarring thing I found about this was how it made it completely clear that the League world was a fantasy world, having Henry VIII followed by his daughter, Queen Gloriana, who was half-Fairy. In the other two books, you could almost have believed that the world you were reading about was just a slightly different version of our own, whereas here, it goes completely left-field. Not a bad thing, necessarily, but just taking a bit of mental adjustment.

I found the penultimate story, “The Crazy Wide Forever,” a short story written in the style of Jack Kerouac, impenetrable, and gave up after a few lines (there not seeming to be any concept of paragraphs, or indeed, sentences) and the epilogue was just a bit weird. Apart from that, I enjoyed the variety of styles used in the dossier, from a “lost Shakespeare” story, to a Wodehouse parody involving Lovecraftian elder gods!

Since there are so many details (a background character, a throwaway reference or even a newspaper headline) I am going to have to go back and re-read it with the annotations now :-).

Book details

ISBN: 9781401203061
Publisher: America's Best Comics
Year of publication: 2007

Watchmen

By Alan Moore

Rating: 5 stars

Upon re-reading this book, I was struck by how cinematic it was at times. Particularly near the beginning and the end, some of the pages felt like they were using the tricks of the cinema (very well!) so I can see just why it was so tempting to film it. Still, there’s just so much here, with its multi-layered story, including to mention the parallel Tales of the Black Freighter story and the extracts at the end of each issue that the film would inevitably not be able to fit it all in.

The depth of the characterisation is wonderful to read and Gibbons’ art really draws you in. For me, the second reading also added a lot to it, finding a lot that I had missed or not entirely understood first time round.

Book details

ISBN: 9780930289232
Publisher: DC Comics
Year of publication: 1987

The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Vol. 1

By Alan Moore

Rating: 4 stars

What would happen if you took some of the most famous Victorian heroes, combined them into a super-team and had them fight evil in the name of the Empire? You’d get the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. Forget the average-to-poor film, this is a fantastic graphic novel. Alan Moore’s writing is assured all the way through and O’Neill’s art is stylistically perfect for the setting. The Steampunk-style Victorian era in which it is set, with its cross-channel bridge, its towering statues and monuments speak of a Britain that is self-assured and looking eagerly to the future, with its best and brightest to protect it. A brilliant book.

Book details

ISBN: 9781563898587
Publisher: America's Best Comics
Year of publication: 2000

The Ballad of Halo Jones

By Alan Moore

Rating: 4 stars

This is the collected edition of the Ballad of Halo Jones from the comic 2000AD. It contains 3 parts, although the series was supposed to stretch to 9, the rest were never made. The eponymous heroine leaves earth at the end of the first part to “experience everything”. The tone of the story is such that both men and women can find it equally interesting to read and it’s billed as a feminist space opera. Definitely worth reading, although the first part was the least interesting. Stick with it.

Book details

ISBN: 9781401205904
Publisher: DC Comics
Year of publication: 1991

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