History of The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen

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In the fictional The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen universe there have been a number of versions of the League, and in particular in the comic book The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: Black Dossier the membership and activities of these Leagues were fully explored, interwoven into an extensive world timeline.

17th Century[edit]

Prospero's Men[edit]

The first League was established at the behest of England's Queen Gloriana recommending that Italian sorcerer Prospero and his squire Orlando found a group of extraordinary individuals after her death who would operate independently of the government. This seems to have been done in the hope of establishing a bridgehead between her own faerie realm and the mortal world, via the ethereal Blazing World archipelago in the North Atlantic, in the wake of her successor King Jacob's ruthless purge of faeriekind from the British Isles, and the subsequent retreat of those magical elements from everyday life.

  • Prospero, the Duke of Milan, the sorcerer protagonist of Shakespeare's 1611 play The Tempest. Before his League was assembled, he lived in Mortlake under the alias of John Subtle. (The faux-Shakespeare fragment in The Black Dossier entitled Fairy's Fortunes Founded includes a list of Prospero's alter-egos, also including historical English occultist John Dee.)
    • Caliban, Prospero's malformed, treacherous servant, also from The Tempest.
    • Ariel, a sprite and air spirit, bound to serve Prospero, also from The Tempest.
  • Christian, a pilgrim Everyman, protagonist of John Bunyan's 1678 novel The Pilgrim's Progress.
  • Captain Robert Owe-much, a British explorer and discoverer of the Floating Island called Scoti Moria or Summer Island, President of the Council of the Society of Owe-Much, and the central character from Richard Head's 1673 book The Floating Island (published under the pseudonym Frank Careless).
  • Don Quixote, the Spanish aristocrat, from Miguel de Cervantes's Don Quijote de la Mancha.
  • Amber St. Clair, the courtesan from Forever Amber by Kathleen Winsor.
  • Orlando, the sex-changing immortal from many works, but drawn most closely from Virginia Woolf's Orlando: A Biography.

This League collapsed in 1690 when the unwilling extradimensional traveler Christian found the heavenly realm he had been searching for in order to lead him to his home, the Blazing World. Some years later Prospero followed him into this realm, as did Caliban and Ariel, thereby beginning the League's connection with this otherworldly realm as per Gloriana's desires.

18th Century[edit]

Gulliver's League[edit]

The second League was formed by Lemuel Gulliver in the 1750s and secretly gathered in Montague House, London, in service to the British Crown.

This League ended with the death of the elderly Gulliver in 1799. Natty Bumppo having already departed the League some time before, the remaining members continued their association for some time, though not in a capacity as agents of the Crown.

19th Century[edit]

Mid-19th Century League[edit]

Based on some of the portraits displayed at the British Museum HQ, there has been since the first issue of the LoEG some fan speculation about the existence of mid-19th century league. Some names frequently mentioned are:

Although there are some strong hints of its existence, no reference is made, not even in the Black Dossier issue.

The Time Traveler's League[edit]

"Allan and the Sundered Veil", the prose short story accompanying vol. 1 describes an unsuccessful attempt by the Time Traveler (the nameless hero of H.G. Wells' The Time Machine) to assemble a League of his own. This group drew three heroes from different points in time:

It had been the Traveler's hope to create a group capable of heading off the looming threats of the Lovecraftian world of Yuggoth. This gathering proves ill-fated however, as the three heroes were each drawn from out-of-body experiences, and each returns to his own life before the Traveler can impart any knowledge of consequence about the enemy (though the denizens of Yuggoth would later prove to be persistent foes of later incarnations of the League).

Wilhelmina's First League[edit]

The Victorian League was led by Mina Harker, recruited for Military Intelligence by Campion Bond. They meet in the British Museum, built on the remains of Montague House. First convened (unknowingly) under the service of Professor Moriarty, they later report to Mycroft Holmes, brother of the great detective Sherlock Holmes.

Associates[edit]

This League collapsed during the closing days of the Martian Invasion of 1898 following the deaths of Griffin and Jekyll/Hyde, and the resignation of Nemo. Quatermain and Murray went their separate ways shortly afterwards, although continued their ties with Campion Bond and British Intelligence as they traveled the world.

Early 20th Century[edit]

Wilhelmina's Second League[edit]

A second League was formed by Mina in 1907, upon the return to England of herself, Quatermain and Orlando, whom they had met while traveling. Still meeting in the museum's secret vault, they continued to work for Mycroft Holmes' British Intelligence.

Having tried (and failed) to avert disaster at George V's coronation in 1910 and battled their French equivalents in 1913 Paris, the end of Mina's Second League ostensibly came about with the outbreak of World War I, during which A. J. Raffles was killed. By the 1930s, an elderly Carnacki had retired for health reasons. In 1937, Murray, Quatermain and Orlando first made a clandestine excursion to the Blazing World, where they gained important future allies, unbeknownst to the government.

Les Hommes Mystérieux (The Mysterious Men)[edit]

Les Hommes Mystérieux are the French equivalent of the League, similarly composed of "questionable" or criminal individuals. In 1913, responding to psychic warnings received by Thomas Carnacki, Mina's second League traveled to the Paris Opera House to thwart a scheme of Les Hommes Mystérieux, where the two groups fought.

Les Hommes Mystérieux later participated in World War I, and during this conflict Jean Robur died when his airship was shot down at the Battle of the Somme. After the war Les Hommes Mystérieux supposedly disbanded.

Die Zwielichthelden (The Twilight Heroes)[edit]

The German version of the League, known as Die Zwielichthelden ("The Twilight Heroes"), was formed around 1909 and based in the "newly constructed Berlin Metropolis". Its members were:

  • Dr. Mabuse from a series of novels by Norbert Jacques. Mabuse is a criminal genius, gambler and in one Lang film an undying entity who can possess others.
  • Dr. Caligari, the homicidal mesmerist, and (supposedly) Cesare, his mind-slave, both from The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari.
  • Dr. Rotwang along with Maria, the "female automaton" he created. From Fritz Lang's Metropolis.

Following the end of World War I, Die Zwielichthelden was said to have survived up to the 1930s in different incarnations. Rotwang and Cesare both appear to have died prior to 1941 (presumably in the events of their respective films), while Maria was destroyed and Caligari killed in a confrontation with Janni Nemo in Berlin in 1941, leaving Mabuse the only surviving member of Die Zwielichthelden.

Late 20th Century[edit]

The Failed Warralson League[edit]

In the aftermath of World War II, Mina and Allan disappeared while on a mission to America in 1946, anxious about the imminent rise of a brutal totalitarian government in Britain, thereby narrowly escaping the "BB" years. With Orlando, the only other surviving League member, also having vanished by this time, (supposedly transformed by magic into an orange cat), MI5 assembled a team of surrogates in their place, each of whom was roughly intended to correspond to one of the members of Mina's original (Victorian) League, arguably the most successful of all the incarnations.

  • Miss Jane Warralson from the stories by W. E. Johns.
  • William Samson, Jr., the Wolf of Kabul, who appeared in Wizard and Hotspur. His father, William Sr., appeared in Volume II as a coachman to Murray's League.
  • Peter Brady, the Invisible Man, from the television series The Invisible Man.
  • Professor James Gray, the inventor of The Iron Fish submersible device, who appeared in The Beano. (He is seen as a child in Volume II.)
  • The Iron Warrior. A giant robot from Thrill Comics and New Funnies.

Fraught by tensions and failings from the outset, this largely unsuccessful team only went on one mission together, battling pirate-slaver James Soames and Italian Criminal mastermind Count Zero (both from Frank Richards's Greyfriars School series), before disbanding, the battle having concluded with the accidental explosion of the Iron Warrior.

To all intents and purposes, this marked the end of the League as a group in the employ of the British government. From this point onwards they would operate outside the law as fugitives and freelancers, working to their own agenda rather than that of any official masters.

The post-Ingsoc Ensemble[edit]

By 1948 a totalitarian government (Ingsoc) was in control of Britain which denounced and denied the League in all its forms, leading to many believing the extraordinary individuals had never existed, being nothing more than characters from fiction.

In 1958, not long after the Big Brother government's fall, the two surviving Leaguers (Mina Murray and Allan Quatermain) returned to London and broke into British Intelligence, stealing the Black Dossier that contained details of all the League's incarnations.

It was up to a new and deadly breed of Cold War agents to stop them and retrieve the Dossier.

Eventually successful, Mina and Allan departed to the Blazing World once more, far beyond the reach of the shadowy agencies pursuing them, where they were reunited with Orlando, Prospero, Fanny Hill, and many other previous members of the League. In the process of their pursuit Drummond was killed by Jimmy.

The Seven Stars League[edit]

Minions on the Moon reveals that Mina was part of a British super team in 1964, whose full membership is shown in 1969:[3]

  • Captain Universe, alias of Jim Logan, interplanetary superhero created by Mick Anglo.[4]
  • Vull the Invisible, in actuality Mina Murray; the original Vull appeared in The Ranger written by Temple Murdoch.
  • Mars Man, a Martian explorer who came to Earth to study its "social life and civilization", from the Marsman Comics.[5]
  • Zom of The Zodiac, whose magic grants victims of crime the power to stand up to criminals, from Big Win comics.[6]
  • Satin Astro, featured in "Burt Steele and Satin Astro in the Year 3000 AD" by Dennis Reader in Whizzer Comics.
  • Captain Zenith, in Captain Zenith Comic, a super-speedster.[7]
  • Electro Girl, from G-Boy Comics, Whizzer Comics, and Super-Duper comics.[8]

Murray Group Under Prospero[edit]

By 1969 Wilhelmina Murray, Allan Quatermain and Orlando are summoned by Prospero in order to investigate the recent activities of Oliver Haddo's sect. They settle in the Seven Stars' former headquarters and start searching for clues that eventually make them split ways. After ingesting a drug pill and meeting Haddo on the astral plain, Mina appears to be close to insanity and is taken away in an ambulance against her will, thus failing to rejoin her teammates, while the spirit of Haddo escapes into the body of the young Tom Riddle. Mina's disappearance leads Allan to fall back into drug addiction. In the late 1970s, Orlando leaves Quatermain and joins the British Army.

21st Century[edit]

2009: All that is left[edit]

By 2009, the League is defunct, until Orlando, recently discharged from the British Army, is tasked by Prospero to eliminate the Antichrist, and is reunited with Mina, and a now homeless and drug addicted Allan who at first refuses to join them. Meanwhile, Jack Nemo, the last descendant of Captain Nemo, is waging a terrorist campaign in the Middle East. The League battles the Antichrist, who's also known as the boy with the lightning scar, is holed up in a secret location with the still living head of Oliver Haddo.

During the onslaught, Allan was killed while fighting the Antichrist. Soon after Night was granted immortality and left MI6. Allan's body was buried in the same grave in Africa where he faked his death.

Spoofs[edit]

Spoof 1988 American League[edit]

In 2010, the "League of Extraordinary Gentlemen - America: 1988" was announced as an April Fools' Day joke, complete with mocked-up cover.[9][10] This 1988 league was the supposed successor to another league disbanded in 1979 by Oscar Goldman. The 1988 League was created after the murder of Mr. Miyagi to prevent a resurrected Tony Montana and his occult gang, the Lost Boys, from killing all those between him and domination of America.

Spoof 1996 "Extraordinary Gentlepersons" League[edit]

"The League of Extraordinary Gentlepersons 1996"[1] Abuse of Playback, the technologically-derived drug made from distilled human memories, is sweeping the world – and Special Agent Fox Mulder learned too late that Playback was put forth on this planet by the Purity, seeking to condition humanity to their rule so as to better combat the Deadite incursion threatening the aliens’ homeworld. Now Mulder is missing, and it falls to his partner, Dana Scully, to re-activate secret protocol LXG-71, the “League of Extraordinary Gentlepersons” (protocol renamed 1993 for “sensitivity reasons”).[11]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Fantastic Victoriana: B". Jess Nevins. Retrieved 2014-07-17. 
  2. ^ "Fantastic Victoriana: H". Jess Nevins. Retrieved 2014-07-17. 
  3. ^ The League of Leagues Fansite: The Seven Stars
  4. ^ "Captain Universe". International Superheroes. Retrieved 2014-07-17. 
  5. ^ "Marsman". International Superheroes. Retrieved 2014-07-17. 
  6. ^ "Zom of the Zodiac". International Superheroes. Retrieved 2014-07-17. 
  7. ^ "Captain Zenith". International Superheroes. Retrieved 2014-07-17. 
  8. ^ "Electro Girl". International Superheroes. Retrieved 2014-07-17. 
  9. ^ League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: News on Upcoming Volumes: 1st April 2010
  10. ^ Comics Alliance, April 1st 2010 By Chris Sims
  11. ^ "The next iteration". Mightygodking. 21 August 2012. Retrieved 2014-07-18.