Although the first book in this collected series of Alan Moore’s anthology comics ultimately disappointed us, we’d have to admit that he seems to have hit a bit of a groove with this volume. Our main problem with the previous book was that the five page stories left too little time for any character development, especially once the clever word play was out of the way. Familiarity with the characters in this second book, which sticks with the same five from the original, gives Moore extra room to develop them, adding more flavour to what originally appeared a little bland and dry. In retrospect, this was probably the intention all along though we make no apologies for complaining about the first volume, since a new reader will still have to work their way through that before jumping into this collection.
The highlight of the book is Jack B. Quick, the young inventor with an ability to warp the laws of science. We could read his stories all day, so it was a little disappointing to find him featured in only two of the six comics collated in this volume. The First American, an aging superhero with personal issues, is also lifted in this title. Previously his stories were so heavily laden with irony that it weighed the character down. Here we see more depth to him and that of his increasingly ambitious sidekick.
The Cobweb sits at the other end of the scale though – increasingly obtuse and difficult to fathom, especially with artwork by different artists that varies in quality as wildly is it does here. Greyshirt remains the same homage to pulp with a few interesting tweaks here and there, while Splash Brannigan continues to mock the comic industry from the inside.
This volume is more of a giggle and less of a groan than the first, but is nothing more than a bit of fun. Give us The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen over this, any day.