Notes on League of Extraordinary Gentlemen #2

by Jess Nevins and divers hands

(The image above is © copyright 1999 America's Best Comics. The text here, except where otherwise credited, is © copyright 2002 Jess Nevins, and may not be duplicated, in part or in whole, without my permission.)

(Additions and corrections are of course appreciated)

(most recent update: 10 March 2002; updates are in blue)

Cover. From left to right and top to bottom, we see here the cast of League, in what is, I think, scenes or poses from their original adventures, with the year matching the time of those adventures. The Nemo, Murray, Hyde and Griffin shots are relatively generic, and could be from any point in their stories.

R. Winninger notes that a date of 1867 would place the shot of Nemo during the time period covered by 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea. Interestingly enough, there is a discrepancy between the chronologies presented in the original texts of 20,000 Leagues and Mysterious Island. The former states that Nemo travelled with Arronax, Land, and Conseil from 1867 to 1868. The latter gives the date as 1866 to 1867.
Steve Costa notes that the shot of Nemo might be from the scene in 20,000 Leagues when the Nautilus has rammed a ship, and the bodies in the background are the dying passengers.

Joe Gallagher corrects me and points out that, given how pale Mina's eyes are in this picture, and that she's without her ever-present scarf, her picture on the cover is likely from before Dracula bit her.

Quatermain is wielding a Zulu shield & assegai (spear); Stephen Geigen-Miller noted that Quatermain is wearing chain-mail, which might mean that the image was a scene from King Solomon's Mines, which would mean that the warriors in the background were Kukuanas, rather than Zulus (the Kukuanas being Haggard's creation; he described them as being related to the Zulus and the guardians of King Solomon's treasure mines). David Crowe pointed out that at the end of Allan Quatermain Quatermain noted how handy the mail shirts were and had some new ones made, so that the scene could be from Allan Quatermain. Chick Lewis adds that the novel in question is likely King Solomon's Mines due to the presence of the Africans in the background; Allan dealt with white members of a lost civilization in Allan Quatermain. Paul Andinach adds that

Re: the Quatermain card on the cover of #2 -- my bet is that it's a representation of the big battle in chapters 13-14 of KSM. A few small details are off, but that's the scene it fits best, and on the whole it fits it quite well. I worry about the date at the bottom of the card, though. It appears to be 1886, which places it the year *after* KSM was published.
The Hyde shot is from Chapter 1 in The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (published in 1886, as indicated here); Hyde collided with a child and "trampled calmly" over her, which in turn attracted an angry mob.

Campion Bond's shot here is a mystery, as is the character himself. The cap is, I think, that of a simple British schoolboy of the period, but Bond is clearly not a schoolboy, nor is the skull-and-bones a child's emblem. Many people pointed out that there is a secret society based out of Yale University called the "Skull and Crossbones Society," and that this may be an indication of Campion Bond's background.

Mark Cannon adds the following about Bond's outfit: The thought that immediately struck me upon seeing the cover was that Bond was wearing sports clothing; to be precise, cricket gear. The cap looks like a traditional cricket cap (no idea of the significance of the skull and crossbones, but cricket caps traditionally have their team crest upon them). The jacket, though it would not be worn in the course of the actual game, could well be a club blazer; note that both it and the cap are black and red, which are probably the club colours. The clincher for me, though, is the open-necked white shirt. Not only is this consistent with cricket clothing, it's also hard to imagine that any proper upper-class British Victorian would have been photographed looking so informal (an open-necked shirt, indeed!) unless it was in a sporting context.

It would have been quite acceptable for somebody of Bond's social class to have played cricket; of course, he would have been a "gentleman" (ie, an amateur) rather than a "player" (a professional), a distinction which remained in English cricket well into the 1930s. There's also nothing unusual about somebody of Bond's bulk playing cricket; the greatest English player of the late 19th Century, W G Grace, was a huge tub of a man, and the same can be said of several great cricketers of the modern era.

Zimran Ahmed follows up with this:

His cap, as mentioned by someone else, is definitely a schoolboy cricket cap, at the club level, in England.  The jacket, because of its red trim, is almost certainly a club cricketing blazer as well.  Lastly, the skull and cross bones motif is actually far more common in such circles than one might think, one can often find it on suspenders, ties, socks, and velvet slippers, even today, that cater to those with atavistic anglophone tendencies (here in the US, J Press, Flusser Custom Shop, and Paul Stuart spring to mind.)  I believe, but I might be wrong, that they hearken back to the Charge of the Light Brigade, for some reason.
Fiona Harvey notes that Bond is wearing the colors of Jesus College of Cambridge.

Dupin is, I think, looking through a hole in the wall at the destruction caused by the murderous orang-utan in "The Murders In The Rue Morgue," which was published in 1841.

Mark Coale, Todd VerBeek, and Charles Prepolec note that these shots seem to be modelled on old tobacco baseball cards, and that Campion Bond's cap may be indicative of his membership in the Skull-and-Bones, or some similar secret society. Dr. Argent points out that The Blue Dwarf, the name on the cigarette casing at the center of the cover, was a penny dreadful which featured, among other things, fictionalized accounts of the British highwayman Dick Turpin. (The Blue Dwarf was published in 1861 and also featured the adventures of the eponymous character, a nobleman in disguise, and John "Jack" Sheppard, a notorious real-life robber of the late 17th and early 18th centuries) Peter Hardy adds that

the cover of issue 2 is obviously meant to be a collection of cigarette cards. Wander round any antiques fair in Britain and there is always at least one stall selling framed collections of cards featuring footballers,  cricketers or other sportsmen. So why not famous adventurers/monsters?
T.E. Pouncey notes that Holmes and Moriarty actually were immortalized by cigarette cards in at least the early 1920s, if not before.

Page 2. Panel 1. Martin Linck usefully contributes the following:

Here we see Dupin discharging a pepper-box revolver at Hyde, at point-blank range. I'm sure you've noticed that it is a  pepper-box; I point it out only because you make no mention of it in your annotatons on this number in the series. The Pepper-box is, if anything, even more obsolete than the LeMat's. Pepper-boxes date from the early 1800's, the time of Poe and Mark Twain. Twain even wrote about the pepper box, to wit:
"The pepper-box: what a lovely little instrument. Once a man went so far as to pull the trigger, all bets were off. It  might discharge one chamber, or two, or all might go. The only sure thing was that that there was no safe place to be but behind it."
As Twain points out, this style of revolver was unreliable, heavy, and dangerous. They were rendered obsolete by the designs of Samuel Colt, and had totally disappeared by the time of the American Civil War. They are wholly appropriate for one of Poe's creations, however. Again, we see Moore doing his research and surprising us with another clever bit of history.

Page 5. Panel 2. "Laudanum" is an extract/preparation of opium; Kathy Li points out that it was more commonly a mixture of opium and wine.

Page 7. Panel 2. Note the prehensile toes on Hyde; he is clearly ape-like in his Hyde form.

Page 8. Stephen Geigen-Miller and Pierce Askegren correct my confusion about the "OXO" on the dirigible, noting that it's a brand of "just-add-water" stock that is still sold today.

I can't help but wonder if the elephant being brought ashore is P. T. Barnum's famous Jumbo, somehow still alive? Similarly, is the train on the left Engine #5, The Little Engine That Could? "Lobdell" wonders if it might be either the steam-powered "elephant" from Jules Verne's The Steam House (1881) or the Electric Elephant from Francis T. (not L.M., as Gail Campbell noted) Montgomery's The Wonderful Electric Elephant (1903) and its sequel. I should have remembered both, as I covered them on my Fantastic, Mysterious, and Adventurous Victoriana web site, which you should really check out.

Lobdell wonders if the train being hauled ashore might be the Cannonball Express, the fastest train in the world in 1900 and the train for which Casey Jones, of song and story, was engineer. Another possibility is that this is the train from the tv show "The Wild Wild West."
Joel Harper notes that

Casey Jones' train was ole 638, and the Cannonball Express was No. 382,  so the number 5 on the train doesn't work in either case.  A website on Jones is at One of the trains (of which there were five) used in Wild Wild West is #5; a link on the train is at
Page 9. Panel 1. "Inspector Donovan" is Dick Donovan, one of the most popular detective heroes preceding Sherlock Holmes. Donovan was the narrator of many short stories written by Joyce Emmerson Preston Muddock under the pseudonym of "Dick Donovan;" Muddock was an extremely prolific writer during the Victorian era. Donovan's adventures were collected in 15 books between 1888 and 1899, the first being The Man-Hunter: Stories from the Note-Book of a Detective. He was a police detective, as shown here, although some of the stories he narrated are more properly described as horror. I have slightly more on him on my Fantastic Victoriana site.

Panel 2. The "Hetty Duncan murder" was solved by Inspector Donovan in the 1890 short story "Who Poisoned Hetty Duncan?"

Panel 3. "The Great Detective" is the title commonly given to Sherlock Holmes. Holmes "died" at the hands of Professor Moriarty in the story "The Final Problem," which was set in 1891, seven years before the setting of League. However, in the A. Conan Doyle stories, Holmes returned to active duty in, 1894, in "The Adventure of the Empty House." Clearly there has been some divergence in the world of League from the Conan Doyle continuity. Bill Jennings corrected my dating problem on "The Final Problem" and notes that, if people get their information through the newspapers, as Mina seemed to about Quatermain, then the public wouldn't know about Holmes still being alive, as his return wasn't published until 1903.

"Robur" is the creation of Jules Verne, and appeared in two books: Robur the Conqueror (1886) and Master of the World (1904). In Robur the Conqueror Robur has invented a very advanced "flying machine" and, although portrayed as a megalomaniac, is still somewhat sympathetic, representing the progress of science. In Master of the World, however, he is insane; to quote John Clute: Robur has become a dangerous madman, blasphemous and uncontrollable, and his excesses--like those of Wells's Dr. Moreau--seem to represent the excesses of an unfettered development of science.
Robur's "hidden stronghold" is in the Great Eyry, an inaccessible mountain in the American Appalachians; League is set after the events of Robur, when he has become misanthropic and insane.

"Plantagenet Palliser" is from Anthony Trollope's Palliser/Parliamentary novels: The Small House at Allington (1864) (his first appearance; thanks to Giles Robinson for correcting my error here), Can You Forgive Her? (1865) (not, strictly speaking, one of the Palliser/Parliamentary novels), Phineas Finn (1869), The Eustace Diamonds (1873), Phineas Redux (1874), The Prime Minister (1876), and The Duke's Children (1880). Palliser, in the novels a politician, is the heir to the Duke of Omnium (gaining the dukedom in Phineas Redux) and eventually becomes the Prime Minister. (In real life the British P.M. in 1898 was the Marquis of Salisbury) In Trollope's books he is essentially the "perfect gentleman;" his personality, in the world of the League, is likely somewhat different.

Panel 4. The astronomer "Lavell" is, in the identity of "Lavelle of Java," from the H.G. Wells novel The War of the Worlds; in Book One he is said to have "set the wires of the astronomical exchange palpitating with the amazing intelligence of a huge outbreak of incandescent gas upon" Mars, which presages the arrival of the Martians. The War of the Worlds was written in 1898, which would indicate what Moore has hinted at in interviews: that the Martians are coming, and soon.

The "Reverend Septimus Harding" is from Anthony Trollope's The Warden (1855), and later appears in Trollope's Barsetshire books. In Trollope's novels he is a long-suffering and good natured old clergyman who is the Warden of an almshouse.

"Miss Coote" was mentioned in issue #1 of the League; she was the star of The Yellow Room, a piece of Victorian-era erotica; she also appeared in a series called "Miss Coote's Confession," which ran in the magazine The Pearl in the from July 1879 to December 1880. "Coot," by the way, is an arcane word meaning, among other things, "to copulate."

Page 10. Panel 1. Hawley Griffin's true identity, as the Invisible Man, from the eponymous 1897 novel by H.G. Wells, will become apparent later this issue, on page 18.

Panel 4. The thing that distracted Mina is the partially-obscured name on the sign: "Whitby." In Dracula, Whitby was the location of much of the action, including being the site of Dracula's arrival in England, via the Russian schooner Demeter. Marcia/KingMobUK (Columns Editor for the very-good webzine Sequential Tart) notes that the "Prospect of Whitby" is a real pub, and one of London's oldest.

From Campion's words we can assume that he is well aware of the events of Dracula.

Page 11. Panel 1. There's what looks like a torpedo being loaded onto the submarine, and tphile notes what looks like a mine also being loaded. R. Winninger points out that it's likely that the workmen we see replenishing the Nautilus in this panel are merely dockhands and not members of Nemo's crew. By the end of Mysterious Island, all the members of Nemo's crew were dead and Nemo was sailing the vessel unassisted.
Paul Andinach notes that two characters we see in issue #4, Ishmael and Jack, seem definitely to be crewmen, so Nemo clearly changed his policy between Mysterious Island and the events of League.

Kelly Tindall adds,

Nemo stated to Harding that his crewmates upon the Nautilus' original sojourn were all expatriates from his home, who had all since passed away.  While this hardly explains the Frenchman taken by the squid in "League", it does explain why Broad-Arrow Jack and Ishmael would be taken aboard as crew of the Nautilus; Nemo favors those whom have been cast aside by circumstance.  Besides a hunger for adventure, this further explains his association with the League, the most cast-aside misfits in common literature...Nemo certainly does not require the money.
Panels 3-4. At the end of Wells' The Invisible Man Hawley Griffin is trampled to death by an angry mob in Hintondean, as Mina relates here. In the novel Griffin is "almost an albino," with "a pink and white face and red eyes;" the reason his university records do not confirm this is given below, on page 20.

In The Invisible Man the title character is only referred to as "Doctor Griffin;" Moore has said that he gave the Invisible Man the first name of "Hawley" as a reference to the murderer "Dr. Hawley Crippen." Crippen poisoned his wife in 1910 and was one of the most notorious of England's pre-WW1 murderers.

Panel 7. The painting behind Nemo is of the dreaded Black One, Kali. Kali is the consort of Siva and is the mother goddess in the Hindu religion; she is motherhood in its destructive aspect, killing and devouring the life it produces. We know that Nemo is a Hindu; I'd thought, from the Nautilus' steering wheel, seen in issue #1, that Nemo was a Saivista - that is, a worshiper of Siva - but given the painting or tapestry behind him, perhaps he is a Kali worshiper instead, or also.

Page 12. Panel 1. The "Correctional Academy for Wayward Gentlewoman" was a part of Rosa Coote's stories in The Pearl.

"Schadenfreude" is a German word meaning, roughly, "malicious joy in one's heart at another's downfall." Handy word, that.

Panel 2. Chris Davies points out that the cab's title is "Barkas and Sons," a reference to Barkis, from Charles Dickens' David Copperfield. (Beppe Sabatini caught the misspelling)

Panel 3. "Miss Flaybum" was a part of Rosa Coote's stories in The Pearl. SRowe notes that in The Pearl it was Miss Flaybum's academy, as Rosa Coote implies in this panel, and that in The Pearl Rosa Coote was sent to the Academy to "further her education." Miss Flaybum originally appeared in an 18th century novel called Sublime of Flagellation; in letters from Lady Termagant Flaybum, of Birch-Grove, to Lady Harriet Tickletail, of Bumfiddle-Hall : in which are introduced the beautiful tale of La coquette chatie, in French and English : and The boarding-school bumbrusher : or, The distresses of Laura. Sublime of Flagellation was, naturally, popular during the late Victorian era (part of the flagellation literature which was so widespread) and Lady Flaybum appeared in a number of other works, including The Pearl.

Panel 5. A "punkah-wallah" is an Anglo-Indian compound word. The "punkah" was a portable fan, and the wallah means, roughly, a "doer," so a punkah-wallah is the servant who operates the portable fan. (For more on the etymology behind "wallah," go here)

Quatermain's words here are a bit of a joke on Moore's part, lying back and thinking of England being the stereotypical advice given by a Victorian mother to her daughter as the best way to endure the horrors of sex.

Page 13. Panel 2. "Olive Chancellor" is the strong-willed American feminist (and, according to some critics, lesbian) in Henry James' The Bostonians (1886).

Panel 3. "Katy Carr" is the "naughty," head-strong heroine from Susan Coolidge's What Katy Did (1872), What Katy Did At School (1873), and What Katy Did Next (1886). The line about her being a devotee of "the school of pain" is a reference by Moore to the events of What Katy Did, in which the wheelchair-bound Katy learns to walk and, through the "school of pain," learns to accept domestic discipline.

Panels 4-5. "Becky Randall" is the title character of Kate Douglas Wiggin's Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm (1903) and its sequel More About Rebecca (1907), Sunnybrook Farm being located in Riverboro, Maine.

Page 14. Panel 3. "Peine forte et dure" means "Pain, strong and hard." Actually, as John Tiverton points out,

"Peine forte et dure" was the name officially given to one favoured means of torture/execution in Europe in the Middle Ages. The torturer would place heavy stone blocks on the chest of the restrained torturee (to coin a word), increasing the weight until the poor unfortunate either confessed to whatever he was expected to confess to, or died by suffocation or from having his ribcage crushed.
Robert Taylor adds this:
John Tiverton is almost correct but 'Peine....' was used not as a method of confession or torture but as a method of pleading. Let me make this more clear, if you were tried for a crime but did not answer when asked 'guilty' or 'not guilty' the case could not proceed. The reason people kept silent was because if you were convicted not only would you have the sentance of the court but all your wealth and land would become the property of the court and any family would be evicted and forced to live on the streets as paupers. So in order to get people to plead 'Guilty or not' they inflicted the increasingly heavy weights until the person was crushed to death or forced to plead. If they died without pleading the courts had no rights to their property which passed normally then through line of descent. This was eliminated later on (not too sure when ) when the British legal system decided that silence meant 'Not Guilty.'
Cory Panshin adds:
Peine forte et dure was used at least as late as the Salem witch trials, in 1692, when one Giles Cory was pressed to death.  According to The Devil in Massachusetts, "It must have been supposed when the ordeal began that after a certain number of rocks had been placed on Cory's chest he would break down and consent to giving testimony.  But Giles Cory had endured, his only recorded utterance--and it is tradition which records it--being an occasional gasp, 'More weight.' "

Some people are just stubborn that way.

Page 15. Panel 1. Of Quatermain's words, Jerry Boyajian usefully notes:
Quatermain's wife was his childhood friend, Stella Carson. He met her again years later in one of his earliest adventures in Africa (with respect to internal chronology, it was his second recorded adventure). They fell in love, got married, and she died giving birth to their son, Harry. The full tale is told in the title story of the collection Allan's Wife and Other Tales. (1889). Another story in the same book, "A Tale of Three Lions", is (as far as I know) the only story to feature as a character Quatermain's son, Harry (who was 14 at the time of the story).

Harry's death was mentioned by Quatermain at the very beginning of the novel Allan Quatermain (1887). He died while working in the smallpox ward of a hospital shortly after getting his medical degree. This occurred just a couple of years prior to the events related in the novel, which occurred about three years prior to the publication of the novel, thereby placing Harry's death at about 1882, or 16 years before the events in League. Assuming that Harry was in his early 20s when he died, Stella's death would've occurred circa 1860, or close to 40 years prior to League.

Panel 2. SWayment notes, interestingly, that this may be one of those moments when the author is speaking directly to the audience, that Moore is telling us, through Nemo, about his own feelings about the superhero genre; SWayment also notes the similarity between Nemo, here, and the most famous picture of Moore.

Panel 6. "Polly Whittier" is better known as "Pollyanna;" she is the heroine of Eleanor H. Porter's Pollyanna (1913). Kathy Li points out that she was not known as "Polly" in the novel, as she had two aunts named "Polly" and "Anna" and her father decided to christen her after both of them.

Page 16. Moore, perhaps anticipating objections about the rape scenes in issue #1 and here, had this to say in a recent interview with Tripwire magazine, which Mark Coale was good enough to send me: I think that when you take the sex scene with Pollyanna that takes place in the second issue, you'll see that there is a lighthearted element to it. The scene where the Egyptians try to rape Mina is nasty but comical though. Rape is serious, the idea of rape is a horrible thing and there's no intention of trivialising it. However, one of the unspoken pillars of Victorian fiction was the notion of 'the fate worse than death.' Human sexuality, screwed up as it is, is a big part of Victorian fiction, as is the racism. When you see the Arabs in the first issue and when you see the Chinese in #3, I'm sure they'll be portrayed in the same way. This is what we wanted. We're not talking about real Arabs, real Chinamen, or even real women.

I suppose people could accuse me of wallowing in those elements under the guise of postmodernism and they'd probably be right. I don't think that you get an unpleasant atmosphere after reading the stories. It's more British attitudes that are being pilloried rather than the targets of those attitudes. What makes it funny is the absurdity of the Victorian vision, this idea of a supremacist Britain that ruled the entire world. It's one of the bits that I'm most enjoying, to explore all those Victorian attitudes. In the girl's school in issue #2, there's plenty of flogging scenes and this is because the Victorians believed that corporal punishment was good for the character.

Page 19. Panel 2. "Lord and Lady Pokingham" are from Lady Pokingham; Or They All Do It, another piece of Victorian-era erotica that appeared in The Pearl.

Panel 4. "Although I've been mishandled by a demon, I'm determined to remain optimistic, no matter what" is a perfect summation of being pollyannish.

Page 20. Panel 2. "Ayesha," aka "She Who Must Be Obeyed," is from H. Rider Haggard's She books: She: A History of Adventure (1887), Ayesha: The Return of She (1905), She and Allan (1921), and Wisdom's Daughter: The Life and Love Story of She-Who-Must-Be-Obeyed (1923). Ayesha was an immortal goddess, worshiped in the African city of Kor; she encounters Quatermain in She and Allan, hence his special attention to the relics in this panel.

Panel 4. The skull in the glass case is a Yahoo, from Swift's Gulliver's Travels (1726). The Yahoos were the nasty brutes who had vicious propensities and human forms; they were ruled over by the wise, benevolent horse-like Houyhnhnms.

Joe Gottman and Stephen Geigen-Miller point out what I should have gotten from the first; that the large skull that Nemo is looking at likely belongs to a Brobdigngnagian, one of the giants from Gulliver's Travels.

Joe Gottman, Stephen Geigen-Miller, and Joe Pacheco point out that the display case with the tiny figures most likely contains either live or stuffed Lilliputians, the tiny little people from Gulliver's Travels.

Page 21. Panel 4. Both of these objects are references to Jules Verne's Journey to the Center of the Earth (1864). In that book a German professor, Otto Lidenbrock, found a book from a 16th century Icelandic alchemist, Arne Saknussemm (whose name is partially visible on the plaque to the top object); Saknussemm claimed to have journeyed to the center of the Earth. Intrigued, Lidenbrock followed Saknussemm's path, using his "AS" markers (as seen on the top object) to guide him. Among the other things that Lidenbrock found was an underground sea (the "Lidenbrock sea" on the bottom plaque) and various "prehistoric" animals (the ichthyosaur seen here).

Page 22. Panel 2. "Professor Selwyn Cavor" is from H.G. Wells' The First Men in the Moon (1901). Cavor, the inventor of a gravity-canceling device - "cavorite" - is described in the novel as "a short, round-bodied, thin-legged little man, with a jerky quality in his motions; he had seen fit to clothe his extraordinary mind in a cricket cap, an overcoat, and cycling knickerbockers and stockings." In the novel Cavor and his friend Mr. Bedford travel to the moon.

Page 23. Panel 1. Moore, I'm sure, knows this, but the idea that England might be subjected to an aerial bombardment with explosives was not unthinkable to the Victorians; quite the reverse was the case, aerial bombardment being something of a staple in Victorian British science fiction, as well as in the American science fiction of the time. (James Enelow points out that Alfred, Lord Tennyson mentioned the idea in "Locksley Hall") Paul Andinach counters that what is truly unthinkable is that the enemy should be allowed to bombard England.

"Captain Mors" is the hero of the Der Luftpirat und Sein Lenkbares Luftschiff ("the Pirate of the Air and his Navigable Airship") series of German dime novels (otherwise known as Kapitan Mors der Luftpirat - "Captain Mors the Air-Pirate") from roughlly this era. The creator of Captain Mors is unknown, but it is likely that well-known German science fiction writers of the era, such as Oskar Hoffman, may have been involved; Frank Astor is credited with having written at least two of the novels. Mors, the "Man with the Mask," is a Captain Nemo-like character, fleeing from mankind with a crew of Indians and involved in a prolonged fight against evil, both on Earth and on Venus, Mars, and the rest of the solar system.

Panel 2. Apparently Mina et al aren't the first League that the British Secret Service has assembled; Moore has said, in interviews, that he plans to do future League series using earlier groupings, and, presumably, this set of characters is one of them. The members of this previous League are, from left to right:
"Lemuel Gulliver," the world-traveler and explorer from Jonathan Swift's Gulliver's Travels. (Andrew Johnston notes that according to the chronology at the Gulliver's Travels Chronology site would be 127 in this portrait) (Stephen Johnston notes the presence, at the feet of Lemuel, of one of the Lilliputian cattle that he brought back after his first voyage)
"Mr. & Mrs. P. Blakeny," otherwise known Sir Percy Blakeney and Marguerite Blakeney, the eponymous hero and wife from Baroness Emmuska Orczy's The Scarlet Pimpernel (1905) and its ten sequels. The Scarlet Pimpernel was a dashing, French-Revolution-era Zorro and the enemy of Robespierre. Kathy Li points out that, properly speaking, they should be referred to as "Sir Percival and Lady Blakeney." Jason Tondro adds that "Lady Margeurite Blakeney was known throughout society as `the cleverest woman in Europe,' a fact which might help to explain her place in the League, and make her more than simply the Scarlet Pimpernel's wife." Myles Lobdell notes that the Pimpernell turned to heroics as a result of the Terror of 1792, and that he married Lady Blakeney in 1790 or 1791, which would make their presence together here something of an incongruity.
"The Reverend Dr. Syn," from Russell Thorndike's Doctor Syn (1915) and its six prequels. Syn, the vicar of Dymchurch near the end of the 18th century, was also the notorious pirate and smuggler Captain Clegg, aka the Scarecrow.
"Mistress Hill" is the bawdy heroine of John Cleland's pornographic novel Fanny Hill, Or, Memoirs of a Woman of Pleasure (1749). (It would appear that it is customary for the British Secret Service to employ at least one fallen woman...) (Andrew Johnston notes that she looks awfully young for someone who should be in her sixties)
"N. Bumpo" is Natty Bumppo, aka "Hawkeye," aka "Leatherstocking," from James Fennimore Cooper's Leatherstocking novels, the most famous of which is The Last of the Mohicans (1826).
"Montagu House," written along the bottom of the label, was a 17th century mansion on whose site the British Museum was later built.

Keith Kole points out that this would seem to be a photograph, rather than a painting--something of an incongruity, given the date on the plaque. "Lobdell" mentions Giphantia (1760), a very early work of proto-science fiction by Charles François Tiphaigne de la Roche (1729-1774); in Giphantia the narrator is taken by a typhoon to another land which has, among other things, a kind of working camera. If Giphantia is in continuity in the world of League, it might explain the photograph.

Clarrie O'Callaghan says

I was reading 'League of...' over again and puzzling over 'Mistress Hill's' presence in the photograph of the past 'league', having, as she did, somewhat *ahem* limited talents... When it occured to me, what's the possibility that Allan Moore perhaps had Fanny Hill confused with Moll Flanders in his mind? Madame Flanders was at least a thief, and a more independant 'fallen woman' whereas Fanny Hill was just a big whore....
Panels 3-4. It's no secret by now, between the clues that Moore has dropped here and the pre-publication publicity, so I'm going to assume that everyone has figured out that the "Warlord from the Orient," the man "far, far worse" than Captain Mors, is none other than the Insidious Dr. Fu Manchu. Fu Manchu was created by Sax Rohmer and first appeared in a series of short stories in 1912, which were put together, in 1913, as the novel The Mystery of Dr. Fu Manchu. As most everyone knows, he is an evil Chinese mastermind with world-conquering aims, and was perhaps the first, and definitely the most prominent, example of the Yellow Peril stereotype.

Steven Flanagan notes that Bond says, in panel 4, that Fu Manchu is "regarded as Satan," and compares that with Nayland Smith's description of Fu Manchu in chapter 2 of The Mystery of Dr. Fu Manchu: "Imagine a person, tall, lean and feline, high-shouldered, with a brow like Shakespeare and a face like Satan..."

Page 24. I know that Fu Manchu, in The Mystery of Dr. Fu Manchu, at least had a base in Limehouse, and I know that during the Victorian era Limehouse had a thriving population of Chinese immigrants (one example being Quong Lee--see the note, below, to the ad on page 32) but any further meaning of that part of London is unknown to me.

Dr. Rainer Nagel adds

You may want to know that, besides Sax Rohmer, other writers have made references to Limehouse in their novels. Oscar Wilde has Dorian Gray come to Limehouse to smoke opium and Charles Dickens sets a scene here in the Mystery of Edwin Drood.

Also, the film 'Broken Blossoms' directed by D W Griffiths, 1919, was set in Limehouse. During the 20's and 30's Limehouse was the fashionable place for bright young things from the West End to visit and smoke opium. Billie Carleton, a West End actress died as a result of an overdose of opium in Limehouse. Charlie Brown's Railway Tavern with its antiques and curiosities also attracted visitors from far and wide.

Chris Davies notes, of the image of Fu Manchu in the sky, that
while the style of moustaches that he's wearing have come to be identified with him to the degree that they are called `Fu Manchu moustaches', he's never described as having a moustache in Sax Rohmer's novels.
Cory Panshin adds that "I'm sure the image of Fu Manchu's face in the sky is a quote from something, but I'm going nuts because I can't track it down."

"Allan and the Sundered Veil." Allan Quatermain meets Randolph Carter, John Carter, and the Time Traveller. Randolph Carter is from H.P. Lovecraft's "The Statement of Randolph Carter," in which he accompanies his friend Hal Warren on a trip, and then stays behind as Warren Tampers In Those Things That Man Was Not Meant To Know; he also spent some time doing some dream-traveling to unknown Kadath, in the 1926 Lovecraft novel The Dream Quest of Unknown Kadath. (Andrew McLean points out what I should have remembered: that Randolph Carter also appeared in Lovecraft's "The Silver Key" (1926) and "Through the Gates of the Silver Key" (1932-1933), which Lovecraft wrote with E. Hoffman Price.) (R. Winninger notes that Carter also appeared in "The Unnameable" (1923), and that Carter, a writer, was a stand-in for Lovecraft himself). John Carter is the swashbuckling Confederate veteran of Edgar Rice Burroughs' A Princess of Mars (1912) and its nine sequels. And the Time Traveller is the nameless hero who travels to the year 802,701 and meets the Morlocks and the Eloi in H.G. Wells' The Time Machine (1895). Stephen Geigen-Miller notes that there was no familial relationship, originally, between the two Carters. There wasn't; this is Moore just playing around with the Wold Newton concept and extending the bloodlines just a little bit farther.

Jerry Boyajian notes that the description of the landscape in "Allan and the Sundered Veil" seems similar to the description of the dying earth that the Time Traveller visits near the end of The Time Machine. You can compare them for yourself by going here.

The ads: they are, as far as I can tell, all legitimate, which is to say, they're real reproductions of Victorian advertising, with four exceptions, which Bill Jennings also noted:

Page 29: the advertisement for issue #3 of The League.

Page 30: an ad for various America's Best Comics books.

Page 31: an ad for the "Edison Patented Electrical Negro." The key to understanding this seemingly horrible ad is knowing about what science fiction critic John Clute dubbed the "Edisonades," examples of which include Philip Reade's Tom Edison, Jr. books and the Tom Swift novels. To quote Clute: As used here the term ‘edisonade' - derived from Thomas Alva Edison (1847-1931) in the same way that ‘Robinsonade' is derived from Robinson Crusoe - can be understood to describe any story which features a young US male inventor hero who uses his ingenuity to extricate himself from tight spots and who, by so doing, saves himself from foreign oppressors.
As creations of the late 19th and early 20th century, the Edisonade characters (a grown-up version of which recently appeared in Warren Ellis' excellent Planetary #1) were quite typical of the time, embodying many of the ideals of their writers - which is to say, they were, quite unconsciously, racist, sexist, and imperialistic. Which is why the "Electrical Negro" is a perfect Edisonade invention. (The very first proto-Edisonade invention had been Edward S. Ellis' 1868 The Steam Man of the Prairie, a man-shaped steam engine; the "Electrical Negro" is a logical, if racist - and therefore typically Edisonade - extrapolation)

Nat Gertler adds that Edison himself had at least one black inventor on his squad, a rather daring move for Edison, given the time, and that it's inappropriate to link Edison directly with the Edisonades. While Edison may not have been a racist, the Edisonades were, and given how closely their creators took their inspiration and cues from the real Edison, it would be unfair and inaccurate to name the Edisonades after anyone but the real Edison. That said, it should definitely be stressed that the real Edison was not the racist that the Edisonades were, although Eric R. points out that he was an anti-Semite.

Gillman adds that This actually was a publicity stunt done by edison to promote the electric light when it was first introduced, and people were still unsure about the safety of having electricity in the home. The idea was that the light bulb hatted man would stand in some public place, handing out advertisements, and provide a "living demonstration" that the bulbs were not going to harm anyone, as well as providing quite a bit of novelty value in a world where flickering gaslight was the best artificial light most people had ever seen.
Jon Meltzer wondered if the concept of the "Electrical Negro" is a tip of the hat reference by Moore to Matt Ruff's Sewer, Gas and Electric, in which the concept is also used, albeit ironically.

Page 32: an ad for "Quong Lee's Tea-House." Quong Lee was the creation of Thomas Burke for a series of short stories which later appeared in the books Limehouse Nights: Tales of Chinatown (1916) and The Pleasantries of Old Quong (1931); Quong Lee was a wise, elderly Chinese man in the books, similar to Charlie Chan.

Back cover: Professor Cavor's words about the "French attempt...with their artillery device" is a reference by Moore to Jules Verne's From the Earth to the Moon (1865), in which space flight is achieved by means of a spacecraft propelled from a very large gun. Jerry Boyajian pointed out that in From the Earth to the Moon it was a group of Americans who went to the moon from the barrel of a gun, not a group of French. (Steven Costa notes that it was a Frenchman who first proposed that the projectile be manned) The erudite Mr. Boyajian also noted that Cavor's quote mentions planting the Union Jack (the British flag) on Mare Tranquilitatus (the Sea of Tranquility), which of course was where Old Glory (the American flag) was planted during the Apollo 11 mission.
Chris Davies notes that this might also be a reference to the 1902 Melies film Voyage dans la Lune, based on the Verne story and featuring a French character who is behind the attempt. Emilio Martin sees the comment as an allusion to the 1960s "space race" between the Americans and the Russians, and remembers a JFK speech in which he swore to plant the US flag on the Moon before the Russians.

Relevant Web Sites

For those interested in reading some of the source materials for these works, or about these works and their authors, you can find them at the following places:

E-Texts, in the order in which they were mentioned here:

Jules Verne's 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea

Jules Verne's The Mysterious Island

Bram Stoker's Dracula

H. Rider Haggard's King Solomon's Mines

Robert Louis Stephenson's The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mister Hyde

H.G. Wells' The Invisible Man

Edgar Allan Poe's "The Murders In The Rue Morgue"

Edgar Allan Poe's "The Mystery of Marie Roget"

Edgar Allan Poe's "The Purloined Letter"

Jules Verne's The Master of the World

Anthony Trollope's Can You Forgive Her?

Anthony Trollope's Phineas Finn

Anthony Trollope's Phineas Redux

H.G. Wells' The War of the Worlds

Anthony Trollope's The Warden

Henry James' The Bostonians

Susan Coolidge's What Katy Did Next

Kate Douglas Wiggin's Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm

Eleanor H. Porter's Pollyanna

H. Rider Haggard's She

Jonathan Swift's Gulliver's Travels

Jules Verne's Journey to the Center of the Earth

H. G. Wells' The First Men in the Moon

Baroness Orczy's The Scarlet Pimpernel

John Cleland's Fanny Hill

James Fennimore Cooper's The Last of the Mohicans

Mark Twain's Fennimore Cooper's Literary Offenses

Sax Rohmer's The Insidious Fu Manchu (the later title for The Mystery of Fu Manchu)

H. P. Lovecraft's "The Statement of Randolph Carter"

H. P. Lovecraft's "Through the Gates of the Silver Key"

H. P. Lovecraft's "The Unnameable"

Edgar Rice Burrough's A Princess of Mars

H. G. Wells' The Time Machine

Jules Verne's From the Earth to the Moon

Related Sites:

Go back to issue #1

Jump forward to issue #3

Go far ahead to issue #4

Get up to date with issue #5

Finish the series off with issue #6

Enjoy some lagniappe with the League hardcover

Tide yourself over with the Game of Extraordinary Gentlemen

Marvel at the images from the French version of League


Gulliver's Travels Chronology

A Haggard bibliography assembled by the author Jessica Amanda Salmonson.

A Haggard biography

The James Bond Chronology

The Wold Newton Universe web site.

Thanks to Zimrah Ahmed; Pierce Askegren; Sean Barry; Jerry Boyajian; Gail Campbell; Mark Cannon; Mark Coale, as always; Steven Costa; David Crowe; Chris Davies; Drew Dederer; Dr. Argent; Duggy Dug; James Enelow; "Asp Explorer;" Frederic Ferro; Carl Fink; Steven Flanagan; Joe Gallagher; Sgarre; Stephen Geigen-Miller; Nat Gertler; Gillman; Joe Gottman; Greg; Peter Hardy; Fiona Harvey; David Hollander; Andrew Johnston; Stephen Johnston; Keith Kole; Ivan Kristofferson; Chick Lewis; Kathy Li; Martin Linck; Myles Lobdell; Dwayne Macduffie (!); Andrew McLean; Mike McConnell; Marcia/KingMobUK; Emilio Martin; Jon Meltzer; Dr. Rainer Nagel; Clarrie O'Callaghan; Joe Pacheco; Cory Panshin (!); tphile; TE Pouncey; Charles Prepolec; Eric R.; Jess Ray; Giles Robinson; SRoweCanoe; Alan Sinder; Robert Taylor; Kelly Tindal; Geoffrey Tolle; Jason Tondro; Steve Trout; Todd VerBeek; SWayment; and R. Winninger.

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