Thursday, January 18, 2007

Weekly Comic Book Reviews Delayed, Classic Reviews Continue

My weekly reviews will be delayed until this weekend as I won't be able to get to the comic store tonight. I think I only have She-Hulk coming in anyways. But to fill in the gap here are my reviews of The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen (which I will now refer to as "The League") volumes 1 and 2. I'm only reviewing the comic portion of them as I haven't read the other written stories that accompany them (I'm a couple chapters into the first one). And I'll do it all in one chunk to save me time but I'll include a second part to comment on the movie. I should also mention that the books are intended for a more mature audience due to violence, nudity, and all that other good stuff. ;)

The Review: What can I say about Moore's writing. The guy has received so many awards and so much recognition for his work that it seems rather silly for me to continue to praise it on my simple little blog. The level of detail in the writing in the League is exceptional. His inclusion of characters (from major to minor) and even the smallest detail from classic literature and how it's all woven together is really amazing. A lot of the details went over my head (I have to admit my ignorance to a lot of the classics) but I didn't find it to distracting to be missing out on some things while catching others. The thing I love about Moore's work is that the characters are real. They're not perfect and despite their flaws the heroes still come out as heroic (well, those who are supposed to be heroic do). The pacing of the book, the character designs, the dialogue, it all helps the reader make that connection with the characters. I'm reminded of one scene after the Invisible Man killed a police officer, you have a page (maybe it was more, I can't quite recall now) of silent panels with him removing the officer's uniform and putting it on. I found myself wondering what the heck the guy was doing and almost urging him to hurry up and get back to the Nautilus. And as he strolls through the street so nonchalantly I found myself just as frustrated with his actions as the characters in the book. It's that kind of connection that truly great writers and artists can make with a reader. And it's moments like that and the appreciation of them that make me the comic geek I am. Which leads me to the art. Now normally I'm not a big fan of the style Kevin O'Neill displays in this book so I was a little worried when I started. And at the beginning, that prejudice on my part made me question whether another artist might have done a better job of drawing some panels or scenes. But it didn't take too long before I was won over. I think the fantastic nature of this book needs an artist like O'Neill and the characterization he achieves is remarkable. And his rendering of some of the scenes (such as the Invisible Man one I mentioned earlier or Hyde sitting down for dinner with Nemo at the museum, a scene Wizard Magazine listed in their top 25 "creepiest, eeriest, goriest, most disturbing, and just plain scariest comics moments ever" so I won't spoil it) is top notch comic book story telling. Needless to say, I loved both volumes and recommend them.

As for the movie, I saw this movie a while back so obviously it was before reading the books. Upon first viewing I had mixed feelings about it. The over-the-top fantastical nature of the story threw me a bit. But it grew on me and to this day, I actually enjoy watching it. Which is actually a little hard to admit to now (after having read and enjoyed the comics so much) because the liberties they took with the characters and the story would normally make me cringe. Some of the changes really take away from the indvidual characters and their ties to their origins in the literature and that's too bad. On the other hand, it's Hollywood so at least they were in the ballpark in some cases. And it was a rather fun ride even if it was rather predictable. The books tell the story as it should be told and even though the movie falls short of that, I still find it a guilty pleasure to watch.

So that's it for now. Hopefully the She-Hulk review will go up this weekend. I'm not sure what's next on my list. I have "Re-inventing Comics" by Scott McCloud to read and I'm looking to pick up a copy of "Marvels" to re-read that. But there's also a few novels I'd like to get to and of course, all this reading is keeping me from doing any drawing. So we'll have to see where I go from here.

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