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

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