At the very same time, the creators faced an uphill battle when their own fan base objected to some of their own creative decisions. Breaking away from the iconic team of the original League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, to supplant their pulp adventures with metafictional encyclopedias? It was a choice that only the biggest of Alan Moore's fans actively supported, and even then it's doubtful that they enjoyed the results in quite the same way. Moore and O'Neill's "League of Extraordinary Gentlemen" appeared in 1999 and quickly filled the pop cultural niche established by Philip Jose Farmer and more specifically Kim Newman, with a group of characters that seemed perfectly poised to explore the darker side of the Victorian fictions. A simple, easily understandable idea around which the creators framed a world of allusions and references to literature both obscure and ambitious.
It's easy to understand how the creators ended up having the movie optioned even before the production of the first issue was complete. This is also how the project ended up being exempt from the Wildstorm/DC buying the rights on all of Moore's ABC imprint. These were experimental books launched by high caliber artists in a very peculiar moment for the industry. It's somewhat understandable that the publisher would wanted some control over the work it was paying the freelancers in advance. Alan Moore's relationship being historically strained with DC, it was understandable that the arrangement was not to prove lasting.
When he finally severed ties with the company, the writer was under obligation to complete the work on the new entry in the series, 2007's the infamous "Black Dossier". The resulting collaboration proved tumultuous, and he once again parted ways with the publisher, vowing never to work for them again. As for the ABC books, the rights to all of them stayed with DC, with "the League" being the sole exception, due to its creator owned status being decided upon before the project was officially brought to Wildstorm/DC. Yet, judging the content of "Black Dossier", it's not difficult to at least understand some of the publisher's qualms. They were paying creators to create highly experimental content, to be produced on varying paper stock, including a 3D section and even a playable record, all the while completely breaking from the well received format of the first two "League" mini-series.
With "Century", the succeeding third official volume of "the League", the project has managed to emerge back into the realm of comic books it seemed largely disinterested with in the "Black Dossier" compendium, but the result was still problematic. Working for the new publisher assuaged the creator's fears of escaping any kind of censorship, but it's hard to read the pages and not compare it to the original work. It seems that by elaborating on the idea of using existing characters to recreate a superhero universe adventures in Victorian London and taking it to its extreme end was basically the change of direction that few can truly appreciate. It boils down to the reader trusting Alan Moore and Kevin O'Neill's taste almost despite their better judgment.
And while certainly, having each phase of the property's life being a story on its own, with its own set of goals and underpinning philosophy, there is also much to be said in exploring an idea to the limits of its potential. By treating the Victorian incarnation of the League as the purely introductory phase of a much wider concept, the creators seemed to benefit with the increased Moore's move from the ABC line allowed them. By focusing all of his comics writing on the "League", the writer felt like he should enjoy the new found freedom and craft the story that he himself would be delighted to read. And certainly, a sizable part of his own audience followed. But, recreating the concept from the ground up would also mean supplanting its initial appeal with an equally likable version of the property, which is simply something that hasn't happened.
Having a valid point to make is a chief philosophical underpinning of any serious work of art, but judging the history of the "League", it's almost certain that most of its audience would have been happier to enjoy Moore's intellectual accomplishments in his other projects. Leaving the Victorian League in the perpetual Second Act might have been creatively dry on a deeper level, but proceeding to detail some of their related adventures in text form in the back matter of the second mini-series and "the Black Dossier", in order to free the upcoming volumes to be first and foremost Alan Moore comics seems like a slight to the concept.
Simply leaving it as two heady mini-series could have proven more memorable and inspirational in the long run. Reading in text form about the various groups of pulp heroes and villains meeting around the plot of Gaston Leroux' "Phantom of the Opera" while getting to follow Allan and Mina in a tiresome spy plot which even they don't care almost seems a waste of both O'Neill's talent and the readers' enthusiasm for the League.
Strangely enough, it's doubtful that DC would have handled these two segments of the "Black Dossier" in much the same way if the editorial had a tighter control of the property. Of course, this does not glorify the publisher as an ideal caretaker of the well realized stories, but once again reaffirms that the creators themselves can just as equally lose sight of the core of the titles when they try to head in a new direction. If continuing to hone the craft by producing better and more diverse stories in a manner that presents the strongest version of the property ultimately proves a bore, the creator should still think twice about the commercial potential of a radically different idea before proceeding to deconstruct their own work.