In Review: The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: The Tempest #1

Everything about this works, but what else is there to expect from a Moore and O'Neill venture?

The cover: Dressed as characters from Shakespeare’s classic drama The Tempest, Mina Murray, Orlando, and Emma Night are on a beach, survivors of a shipwreck which can be seen in the distance. Scattered on the beach are several keys, a locked chest, and a locked book. Emma is holding a ray gun that’s completely out of place, but that’s appropriate when it comes to League tales, as literary references flow fast and furiously. I’ll admit I picked this up because I recognized Kevin O’Neill’s art before I saw what the title was. Seeing this was a new League book, it became a MUST BUY. Having this book designed like a classic Classics Illustrated comic is cool and funny. Overall grade: A

The story: Stating Alan Moore is an incredible writer is repetitious of past praise. This is a good read, but it’s also a dense one. Hey, it’s Alan Moore, you should realize it’s not going to be a typical comic book. If at any time one feels they’re not understanding something, just go with the flow and hope that your questions will be answered in upcoming issues. There are three stories being told concurrently. The first involves Mina, Orlando, and Emma who, after helping the latter regain her youth, are searching for Captain Nemo’s grandson Jack. Their journeys have them going to lands that are not unlike those of our world and realms from film and literature. The second has Satin Astro and Marsman looking for the surviving members of the Seven Stars, a super hero team they were a part of decades ago, to locate mysterious teammate Vull. This pair gets the least amount of time in this issue, though they do find a survivor who sets them in a new direction. The third follows the newest M at M.I.5 who’s looking for the trio of women in the first plot who have stolen The Black Dossier. M and his agents resemble a famous fictional character who’s appeared on the big screen portrayed by several different actors. The book ends with the three woman coming upon a surprise that overpowers them. There’s also a copy of the first six pages of the first issue of Seven Stars included which gives the origin of Vull and presents some information that will most likely be necessary for future issues. Do I know entirely what’s going on? No. Did I enjoy reading this? Absolutely. There are some very fun characters doing some hilarious and despicable things. There is also a inside front cover story of a “fictional” comic creator abused by a company, an advertisement for readers to purchase fun things, and on the inside back cover responses to letters. This is a complete comic experience from the mind of Moore. Overall grade: A 

The art: I’ve been in love with Kevin O’Neill’s art since seeing Nemesis the Warlock in the original 2000AD‘s. If I see his work, I have to pick it up; so I’m incredibly biased in my love of his illustrations. He doesn’t disappoint in this book, employing several different styles for whatever the story calls for. The three women are drawn in his usual style, with him getting to draw some stunning statues, an excellent mode of transportation, and a one-off illustration based on a 1968 film. This style is constant with Astro and Marsman looking for Vull, with some outstanding props in the background of their travels (with my favorite being Buster under glass). The first deviation from this style is on the second page which shows the futuristic exploits of Astro and her husband in the city of We in 2996. The style resembles an old comic book, with the building they enter from my all-time favorite comic. Though it’s set in the future, it has a retro 1950’s look. The next change in style are the daily strips of Farewells Aren’t Forever, which requires the reader to turn the book to read the often three panel strips. These look terrific, exactly like newspaper serials back when papers ran such comics regularly. The characters that inhabit these stories are every incarnation of a famous English character, with even the American version from 1967 being important. These strips are in black and newsprint (not white) and are my favorites of the issue. The artwork for the Seven Stars comic is also in black and newsprint, but is more akin to comic books than comic strips. I love everything about this book’s visuals, but I’m a fan. Overall grade: A+

The colors: Ben Dimagmaliw is the colorist of this book, creating bright colors for the women on their journey, more subdued ones for the Seven Stars’ quest, and, for it’s first appearance, some ominous ones for M.I.5. The blues on the first page are appropriately magical. The greens on Page 3 make the setting threatening. The sky on 4 and 5 is beautiful in orange. The colors at the bottom of 14 are a delightful throwback to a film. Pages 18 and 19 have five panels set upon a larger piece of art that’s perfectly colored brown to age the item. The greens used for the surprise on the final two pages make it appear sinister, but I have a feeling that its true colors will be revealed in the next installment. Overall grade: A

The letters: Todd Klein creates scene settings, dialogue, old time comic fonts, dialogue, the book’s title and chapter, a dialogue font unique to the women after they exit the waters of the first page, a wonderfully thin font for the strips, writing in a notebook, the tease for next issue, and a sound. I love the different scene settings which visually set the stage for the reader before they begin to read the characters’ exploits. The thin font for the strips are excellent, representing the classic look of a bygone age. I didn’t notice that the women had different speech fonts until a few pages into their tale and I’m attributing it to the waters’ effects. Overall grade: A

The final line: I love books that make reference to other things and if I don’t get them, I take the time to find out what they are. Nothing wrong with a book that makes you work to understand all of it. I expected that with this book. This is a fun story with great art. The text pieces are also fun for their tone. Everything about this works, but what else is there to expect from a Moore and O’Neill venture? Overall grade: A

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Patrick Hayes was a contributor to the Comic Buyer's Guide for several years with "It's Bound to Happen!" and he's reviewed comics for TrekWeb and TrekCore. He's taught 8th graders English for 20 years and has taught high school English for five years and counting. He reads everything as often as he can, when not grading papers or looking up Star Trek, Star Wars, or Indiana Jones items online.
    2 Comments on this post.
  • Don Bagert
    20 July 2018 at 7:04 pm -

    Mr. Hayes, I just get the feeling that you liked this comic LOL By the way, both Jess Nevins and Wikipedia report that Leo Baxendale (from the inside front cover) is a real comic book creator.

  • Patrick Hayes
    23 July 2018 at 10:39 pm -

    Don, thanks! I did not know. I’m going into this book thinking that the creators are making everything up. I should have known better.

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