Mrs. Murray firsts meets a mysterious "sea captain", who is none other than Captain Nemo, enlisted to aid her in her quest. They travel to Cairo to find Allan Quartermain (who has become an opium addict). Quartermain causes a commotion, and eventually decides it would be best to leave with Ms. Murray rather than hang around and continue to embarass himself. The next destination is Paris, to seek out a mysterious "beast man" who has been murdering prostitutes. In order to trick their quarry, Murray poses as a lady of the evening herself, luring the beast into the open, where Quartermain and C. Auguste Dupin manage to capture him. It is ultimately discovered that the "beast man" is Mr. Edward Hyde (of Jekyl and Hyde fame).
The motley crews' final destination is a girls' boarding school, where three young women have been impregnated by what they believe to be "The Holy Spirit". We soon find out however, that this invisible figure is none other than Dr. Hawley Griffin, The Invisible Man. The team convinces Griffin to join them.
With the crew now assembled, they learn that their mysterious benefactor (known simply as "M") has charged them with a mission to retrieve something known as Cavorite (which has the power to control gravity and lift any object, regardless of weight or size, into the air). The Cavorite has been stolen by an Asian Opium-smuggling crimelord known as Fu Manchu.
There's a couple of things I must admit before we get further into the review. First of all, prior to this, I had only read one Alan Moore story. I had heard many things about him, but didn't have much first hand experience with his work.
Secondly, I saw the film long before reading this (and actually enjoyed it). However, after reading the hard cover edition of the graphic novel, I lost a lot of appreciation I had of the film. The graphic novel is such a fine piece of storytelling that the film adaptation of it is an obvious dumbing-down of a sophisticated (yet fun) adventure through Victorian literature.
I enjoyed this story very much, in fact, it is easily the best thing I've read since returning to comics. Mr. Moore gives us a highly engaging story, that had me eagerly anticipating what would happen on the next page. Lots of intelligent and authentic dialogue is traded back and fourth between each character in the story, and it successfully gives them all strong personalities that you will quickly become familiar with, and like.
Quartermain is presented initially as being an Opium-addicted shell of his former self, but as the story progresses, he endears himself to the reader, and regains his strong convictions and sense of honor and adventure. Ms. Murray is definitely the star of the story, and she comes off as a naive (yet strong) woman who reminded me very much of Rachel Weisz's character Evelyn from the 1999 film The Mummy (minus the clumsiness). I believe these two to be the most fascinating characters of the story, as they both have much more to them than is initially depicted.
The artwork is drawn in a simple Victorian style, and while it suits the comic very well, it took me some time to get used to. At first I wasn't fond of it at all, being used to the flashy artwork of superhero comics, but I warmed up to it. The action is spectacular for the setting, particularly in the climatic battle of the story. The expressions on the characters are believable and convey their emotions quite well, which helps the characters become even more than written words. There's also a fair amount of violence and gore in the story, but it's done very tastefully, and it serves a purpose.
Which brings me back to Mr. Moore's writing, everything about the story just flows together so nicely. The events all string together, the dialogue never gets dull, and you're always interested in what the characters have to say. The pacing is perfect, and there really are no dull moments. I read this book in two sittings. I honestly wanted to do it in one sitting, because I was deeply involved in the story and where it would go from there (unfortunately I was unable to, due to having to do other things).
Overall, this is a fantastic story, with an interesting and original premise. One does not even need to be a fan of Victorian literature to love it.