To me, reading League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: The Black Dossier was like reading an issue of Wallpaper*.
Wallpaper* is stunning to look at. The colors and design are rich and immersive, and the writeups touch on a variety of locations and pieces. But the end result of reading the magazine is me poring over a list of places I will never see and furniture I will never own. It's beautiful, but a bit hollow and unsatisfying.
And that's how I felt reading The Black Dossier. It was an exquisite catalog of pointers to stories that I will never actually get to read. The pastiche was hilarious and convincing, the artwork was striking, and the ideas were fascinating. But on page after page I found descriptions of amazing tales - Orlando's life story like a bullet point list, Fanny Hill's new escapades in synopsis form, postcards with throwaway references to adventure, casefiles summing up dramatic episodes in quick bland paragraphs. It was a frustrating tease, high on concept but not that high on actual realized content.
The book is a great success as a literary exercise, though. It has loads of fodder for thought and speculation, and it has some amount of content and resolution for the series characters. The Lovecraft/wodehouse short story cracked me up (and reminded me of the old story collection Scream for Jeeves), and I enjoyed all of the references to the Big Brother government (especially the bizarre naughty minicomic).
But ultimately, I would trade the massive list of literary plotbunnies for even just a few of the fully-realized stories themselves. What would it be like to see an immortal gender-changing warrior learn to fly in World War I dogfights, for example? A single-sentence mention of that concept just doesn't do it for me.
In other news: I've been away for a bit on vacation. Pictures to come shortly, glad to be back.