Friday, August 2, 2013

History of The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen Part 1

The fifth version of the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen
Alan Moore's League of Extraordinary Gentlemen has a rich history within its fictional universe. So, I am going to talk about the various incarnations of the League.
17th Century
The first league was founded in the 17th Century. It was created under orders of Queen Golriana (although the team was founded after Golriana died). The reason was to help relations with Britain and magical creatures. However, King Jacob I had purged faerie-kind from Britain. The team collapsed when Prospero, Caliban and Ariel when to the otherworldly Blazing World. Members included:
  • The wizard Prospero (from The Tempest)
  • Prospero's deformed servant Caliban (from The Tempest)
  • Prospero's sprite Ariel (from The Tempest)
  • The everyman pilgrim Christian (from The Pilgrim's Progress)
  • British explorer Robert Owe-much (from The Floating Island)
  • The Spanish aristocrat Don Quixote (from the book of the same name)
  • The gender-changing immortal Orlando (from various works especially Virginia Woolf's Orlando: A Biography
  • The courtesan Amber St. Clair (from Forever Amber).
18th Century
The second league was founded in 1750s by Lemuel Gulliver. Their base was secretly the Montague House in London. Gilliver's death lead to the end of this league. However, they continued their association with each other. Aside from Orlando (who also joined this version), the members were:
  • Lemuel Gulliver (from Gulliver's Travel)
  • The clergy member-turned-pirate-turned-smuggler Reverend Doctor Christopher Syn / Captain Clegg / the Scarecrow (from the Doctor Syn novels)
  • Sir Percy and Lady Marguerite (from the Scarlet Pimpernel novels)
  • The "deeyslayer" Natheanael Bumpoo, who is the hero of the Leatherstocking Tales
  • Frances Hill, who is the heroine from the adult-only novels of the same name
19th Century
The first 19th century incarnation was founded in the mid-19th century. We only see paintings of them and they are not mentioned the Black Dossier, which details the history of the League. Known members are:
  • The vampire Sir Francis Varney (from Varney the Vampire)
  • The gentleman traveler Phileas Fogg (from Around the World in Eighty Days)
  • The unaging Dorian Gray (from The Picture of Dorian Gray
  • The Blue Dwarf (also known as Spathwa)
  • Jack Harkaway (who first appeared the Penny Dreadful fiction Boys of England)
  • Count Allamistakeo (from Some Words with a Mummy)
The next 19th century incarnation was founded by the Time Traveler. He created the team to stop Lovecraftian horrors from the world Yuggoth. Each member was from different periods of time.  However, they ultimately failed and the Yuggoth monsters would be enemies of later versions of the League. The members were:
  • The leader the Time Traveler (from The Time Machine)
  • Pre-Murray incarnation Allan Quatermain (from King Solomon's Mines and its sequels)
  • John Carter (from the novels of various Edgar Rice Burroughs novels) before going to Mars
  • John's relative Randolph Carter (from various Lovecraft's works)
The last 19th century League were the protagonist of the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen volume one and two. They were assembled by Campion Bond for his boss, who turned out to be Moriarty (from Sherlock Holmes). Upon discovering this, the League turned on their boss and defeated him. The League disbanded after the death of Griffin, Nemo's resignation and the death of Doctor Jekyll during the War of the Worlds. Members were:
  • Explorer and elephant hunter Allan Quatermain
  • Doctor Henry Jekyll and Edward Hyde (from The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde)
  • The invisible Hawley Griffin (who is largely based on The Invisible Man although the titular character is a different person)
  • The Indian submariner Captain Nemo (from Twenty Thousand Leagues Under The Sea, The Mysterious Island and Journey Through the Impossible)
  • Wilhelmina Murray (from Dracula)
Early 20th Century
Upon returning to England in 1907 and meeting Orlando, Mina formed the first twentieth century league. They worked for British Intelligence and attempted to stop various diasters. The team disbanded around World War I after Raffles died, Carnacki felt ill and everyone else entered the Blazing World. Members included:
  • Miss Wilhelmina Murray
  • Allan Quatermain Junior, who in reality a de-aged Allan Quatermain
  • Reformed thief A. J. Raffles (from various E. W. Hornung stories)
  • Occult detective Thomas Carnacki (from Carnacki, the Ghost-Finder)
  • Orlando
Two other version of the League were formed at this time. All previous incariation of the League were British. However, France and Germany formed their own League.
Les Hommes Mystérieux was the French version of the team. They clashed with the League at the Paris Opera House. They disbanded after World War I. Members include:
  • Insane genius Jean Robur (from The Clipper of the Clouds and The Master of The World), who had built a flying machine
  • The albino Monsieur Zenith, who gained extraordinary abilities from using a special drug
  • Master thief Fantômas (from Pierre Souvestre and Marcel Allain works)
  • The superhero Nyctalope (from various Jean de La Hire works)
  • Master thief Arsène Lupin (from books made by Maurice Leblanc)
The German version was Die Zwielichthelden. They were formed in 1909. They worked in Berlin. After World War 1, the team supposedly survived in various incarnations (although none of these are seen). Members included:
  • The criminal genius and gambler Dr. Mabuse (from various Norbert Jacques novels)
  • Doctor Rotwang and "the female automaton" Maria (both from Metropolis)
  • The homicidal hypnotist Dr. Caligari and his mind-slave Cesare (both from The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari)
Since this post is going on too long and there are still five more incarnations of the League, I'll have a part two follow-up.

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