I watched the film adaptation of this graphic novel many years ago, before I even knew about the graphic novel. I liked the film a lot. It spoke to my interest in science fiction, adventure tales, and 19th century literature. All of these things are brilliantly blended together in this book, which is lavishly illustrated by Kevin O’Neill.
This omnibus edition includes two full volumes, as well as a wealth of supplemental material that is all worth exploring. There are coloring pages, games, instructions for crafts, everything that an intrepid nerd could ask for.
In addition to all the fun material and the brilliant artwork, there is Moore’s incredible writing, which flows effortlessly while focusing a lens on human nature, and also touching on the mystical and unusual in experience.
Moore uses the character of Miss Mina Murray as a voice of criticism against the male-dominated society of the 19th century.
Mina Murray: “Why are men so obsessed with mechanisms that further nothing but destruction?”
Here she is not only speaking out against patriarchy, but she is also making a bold comment on the industrial revolution, and the negative impacts that it had on society. She then goes on to express how challenging it can be for women in positions of authority.
Mina Murray: “The point is that I’m supposed to be the person organizing this… this menagerie! But that will never do, will it? Because I’m a woman! They constantly undermine my authority, him and that Quatermain…”
Shifting the focus away from social criticism, I want to share a well-written passage describing Allan Quatermain’s drug-induced altered state of consciousness.
Quatermain had felt the consciousness torn from his body, gripped by the drug’s phantasmal diamond fist. He’d heard Marisa scream and then the awareness was dashed from him by a cold, obliterating light. Now he was lost. As sensibility returned, he found himself afloat, a ghostly form amidst a shimmering violet limbo. What had happened? This was not the breathtaking immersion in past incarnation that the drug had hitherto provided. All about him dream-like forms congealed from viscous twilight, half-materialized before once more dissolving into opalescent nothing. Smoldering ferns and mollusk spirals, scintillating on the brink of substance.
Describing the experience of a shift in consciousness is not an easy task for a writer, since the nature of this experience is generally beyond words. But Moore does a great job is conveying the experience.
One of the characters in this book is Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde. As the tale progresses, Jekyll fades out of the story and Hyde becomes the dominant character. This symbolizes what happens when the dualistic nature of humans gets out of balance. As Hyde points out, there has to be a balance. If the light becomes too strong, or the dark becomes too strong, then there are negative effects on the individual.
Hyde: “Anyway, what that silly bastard did , he thought is he quarantined all these bad parts, what was left would be a ****ing angel. huh-huh.”
Driver: “Hang on. If you’re this chap’s sins, how did you end up so bloody big?”
Hyde: “Good point [chlop]. That’f a very goob poimp. I mean, when I started out, good God, I was practically a ****ing dwarf. Jekyll, on the other hand, a great big strapping fellow. Since then, though, my growth’s been unrestricted, while he’s wasted away to nothing. Obvious, really. Without me, you see, Jekyll has no drives…and without him, I have no restraints.”
Overall, I really enjoyed this book. I will say, though, that the last section is very long, comprised entirely of small-type text and is intended to mimic a travel almanac. While you may be tempted to skip over this somewhat tedious part of the book, I found it worthwhile to read through it. It is brimming with literary and pop-culture references to fictional locations, and is done so in a very creative way. It is not easy to read, but I think it’s worth it. I found lots and lots of subtle allusions to books I had read in the past, which stirred some good memories for me.
Thanks for stopping by, and keep reading stuff.