The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: Black Dossier
is an original graphic novel
in the comic book
series The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen
, written by Alan Moore
and illustrated by Kevin O'Neill
. It is the last volume of the series to be published by DC Comics
; future editions of the series will be published by Top Shelf due to Alan Moore severing all connections with DC. Chronologically, the volume is the third in the series, but Moore says that it is really an intermediary volume linking volumes two and three.
Its release date had been repeatedly pushed back: from originally being solicited for May 30, 2006, then October 25, 2006, then January 10, 2007, then October 24, 2007, then moved up October 3, 2007. Black Dossier was then finally released on November 14, 2007.
Background and format
Originally referred to as The Dark Dossier during early announcements of its existence, The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: Black Dossier differs from the first two (and official statements for the third) volumes, as it is a self-contained graphic novel as opposed to a limited series later collected into a trade paperback. While the first two volumes included prose stories as backup features, the majority of Black Dossier is non-comic pieces, taking the form of prose stories, letters, maps, guidebooks, magazines and even a lost Shakespeare folio. Also included is a 'Tijuana Bible' insert and a 3-D section complete with custom glasses. All illustrations are done by Kevin O'Neill, the artist on the first two volumes. Alan Moore also recorded a vinyl record of him singing an original song that would be released with the book, but DC later made the decision to hold back on the vinyl and release it in a special Absolute Black Dossier edition after the first release.
After many changed shipping dates, the Absolute Edition was released with no vinyl record, no script/sketch companion book (something that shipped with Absolute "League" vols. 1&2), and a price point of $99 - $24 higher then the two previous Absolute "League" vols. Reactions in the collecting community were largely negative. The DC Comics website continues to list the nonexistent extra features in the blurb for this book.
A DC press release confirmed it would not be released outside the United States "due to international copyright concerns and related issues". This was not an issue with previous volumes, as the Victorian setting meant that the majority of characters that were used were from works no longer under copyright.
The legal notice in the front of Black Dossier says that the character of Billy Bunter is used with the permission of IPC Media. No other permissions are listed.
Unlike earlier volumes, the comic book portions of Black Dossier
are not set in the Victorian era; rather, they are set in 1958, after the fall of the Big Brother government from Nineteen Eighty Four
(the chronological explanation for this is that Orwell's book was originally set in 1948, but the dates were changed by the publisher). The story itself sees Mina Harker and Allan Quatermain - now immortal after bathing in the fire of youth from She
- on their quest to recover the Black Dossier, which contains the secret history of the now-disbanded League of Extraordinary Gentlemen
Out to stop them is a trio of secret agents: inept, brutally womanizing young spy Jimmy (a thinly-veiled James Bond), a young agent named Emma Night, and Hugo Drummond. The pursuit takes Mina and Allan from London to Scotland and eventually to the magical Blazing World.
The Black Dossier
As Murray and Quatermain read the dossier, the contents of the dossier interrupt the narrative in different sections. Stories include "On the Descent of the Gods", a twenty-five page "Life of Orlando" comic strip which tells the entire life of Orlando from his birth in the City of Thebes in 1260 B.C., up to the Second World War
told in the style of a 1950s British comic called Trump
., a faux William Shakespeare
play detailing the foundation of the League Prospero
from The Tempest
, an imaginary sequel to John Cleland
's Fanny Hill
with full-page illustrations akin to those the Marquis Von Bayros
illustrated for the book, a Bertie Wooster
prose story involving one of Great Old Ones
from the stories of H.P. Lovecraft
, and "The Crazy Wide Forever", a short story written in the style of Jack Kerouac
. Other features incude a picture map of the Blazing World and its location, a cut-away of Nemo's Nautilus Mark II submarine, a series of postcards Mina and Allan issued between the years 1899 to 1913, and profiles of the second 20th century leagues and the group's French and German counterparts.
magazine's Lev Grossman
named it one of the Top 10 Graphic Novels of 2007, ranking it at #2, and praising it as “effing genius”.
has annotations for the Black Dossier on his website
, which will be released as a book under the title of Impossible Territories: An Unofficial Companion to the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: The Black Dossier