Friday, December 2, 2011

'League of Extraordinary Gentlemen' book is different than the movie

I recently finished reading a graphic novel that I’ve wanted to read for a long time, “The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Vol. One,” written by Alan Moore and illustrated by Kevin O’Neill.

Originally published in two six-issue limited series starting in 1999 and later published in a single volume, many of you will be familiar with “The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen” thanks to the 2003 motion picture version of the film that starred Sean Connery and Stuart Townsend. The movie’s pretty good and made me want to read the original book.

The story is set in the late 19th Century and involves a team of “extraordinary” Victorian heroes assembled by the British intelligence service to protect the interests of the British crown. Members of the team include Hawley Griffin (aka, the Invisible Man), Mina Harker from “Dracula,” Dr. Henry Jekyll, Captain Nemo and Allan Quatermain.

One big difference between the book and the movie is that there is no Tom Sawyer character in the book. I’ve heard that he was actually added to the movie to make it more popular with American audiences.

Another big difference in the book and the movie involves the Allan Quatermain character. Quatermain, a professional big game hunter and outdoorsman, is the main character in H. Rider Haggard’s series of late 19th Century adventure novels, most notably 1885’s “King Solomon’s Mines.” In the movie, Quatermain is played by Sean Connery and is portrayed as a robust, physically dominating, sure-of-himself sharpshooter. In the book, Quatermain is a thin, decrepit, drug addict. While not without his merits, he appears to be the shadow of the man portrayed by Connery in the film.

An interesting scene in the book and the movie that I’ve always been curious about is the scene that indicates previous “leagues of extraordinary gentlemen.” You can clearly see a portrait of this earlier league in the graphic novel, and its members include Lemuel Gulliver of “Gulliver’s Travels;” Sir Percy Blakeny, aka “The Scarlet Pimpernel,” and his wife, Lady Marguerite Blakeny; the Rev. Dr. Christopher Syn, aka, “The Scarecrow,” from the novels of Russell Thorndike; Fanny Hill, the main character from the novel by John Cleland; and Nathaniel “Natty” Bumppo, from James Fenimore Cooper’s “Leatherstocking Tales.” I later learned that the exploits of this league are detailed in the 2007 graphic novel, “The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: Black Dossier.”

In the end, I really enjoyed reading the original, graphic novel version of “The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen,” and I will probably read the other graphic novels in the series. They include 2002’s “The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Vol. II,” “The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: The Black Dossier” and 2003’s “The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: Century.”

How many of you have had the chance to read “The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Vol. I”? What did you think about it? What was your favorite, least favorite part? Have you read any of the other books in the series? What did you think of those? Let us know in the comments section below.

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