Griffin, The Invisible Man

*Warning, this post contains Naked Pictures of Invisible Man*

Naked Picture of Invisible Man
I must say, this is how I feel trying to grapple with the Invisible Man. He is a troublesome character and, even now, I’m not entirely sure how to approach him. So, unlike my other posts that try to give more definitive answers, this will be (more so) an exploration of the character.

The Invisible Man was written by H.G Wells and was first published in 1897. The story follows the actions of Griffin, a mysterious stranger that’s just rolled into a small town. He stays at the inn, secluding himself in his room and preforming some sort of odd experiments. The town is greatly suspicious of Griffin’s various chemical apparati and general seclusive manner. Griffin quickly runs out of money for his lodgings, though a mysterious burglary in the town is implied to be his doing. The landlady of the inn demands his payment and immediate expulsion from the inn. During the argument Griffin reveals part of his invisibility, causing an uproar. He strips naked and manages to escape his pursuers. Griffin then convinces a vagrant, Thomas Marvel, to assist him. Marvel is sent back to the town to recover some books, but he betrays Griffin and alerts the police. Griffin attempts to avenge this betrayal but Marvel is under police protection. During the scuffle Griffin is shot and takes shelter at a nearby house — actually the house of an ex-colleague Dr. Kemp. It is to Kemp that Griffin reveals the process of his invisibility. After leaving the house, Griffin realizes he is ill suited to survival in the open streets. It is during this period of hardship that Griffin reveals to Kemp that he plans a “Reign of Terror” on the nation. Kemp, like Marvel, has already alerted the authorities. Again, Griffin manages to evade capture, but now he swears vengeance on Kemp. Kemp organizes a plan to use himself as bait, but it is ultimately the township that forms a mob and slays the Invisible terror. It is only after the beating that the body becomes visible again. The final chapter reveals that Marvel had kept Griffin’s notes, and it is only here that the identity of the Invisible Man is revealed as being Griffin. Until then he had been referred to as the stranger, or as the Invisible Man. Another note-worthy mechanism of the novel is that it is written in the third person, a shift from the first-person perspective of The Island of Dr. Moreau, and The Time Machine.

So, clearly Griffin has a rather disreputable past. It isn’t surprising that the man who wants to perpetrate a “Reign of Terror” across Britain would also rape women at an academy, or sell Britain out to the aliens.

Griffin's Reasoning

One of the interesting things about the original H.G Wells rendition is the use of the small-town setting. Just as a text like Silas Marner illustrates, that small-town settings have no secrets. Silas, a recluse in his own right, is talk of the town because of his wish to remain apart from it. There is a tight community aspect to this kind of setting that allows for maximum surveillance. One of the things that can be noted about the Wells’ The Invisible Man is the failure of authority to capture Griffin (or the albino man, as LoEG depicts). If we are to return to the idea that Nemo is a type of judge, or Quatermain as a type of detective, Hyde’s capture of Griffin elides with the original book. Hyde represents something non-authoritarian; someone who can see and understand the dark side of morality. Moore seems to be advocating for a type of street justice, or a localized defence of the nation. Griffin’s actions are to literally rob the nation (again, think of Mina as Lady Britannia) of its secrets and to sell out the country from within. These invisible actions are ignored by our authority figures, and even Mina wishes that no harm came to the man. Once again, Hyde is able to fulfill what must be done without considering the greater ethics that bind the others from delivering retribution. Griffin is able to escape that panopticon social structure and it becomes the localized responsibility of Hyde to end his “Reign of Terror”.

Griffin's Character

One of the more prominent changes Moore makes with the “Invisible Man” (other than bringing him back from the dead) is that he gives him a name. I believe this change is in order to seduce us into thinking that Griffin is capable of being ‘one of us’, or part of the League. Hyde, after all, is just as dangerous as Griffin, but he becomes more a hero rather than a villain. Hero may be the wrong word for it, but he is certainly more helpful than Griffin. This name though, it once again localizes Griffin. He is not the abstract ‘stranger’, or ‘invisible man’, he is part of the League and, in extension, part of British society. In this way, it is harder to imagine him as ‘the other’, faceless as he may be. His reappearance at death is also symbolic of this humanizing. It is easy to kill a man that cannot be seen, especially as he terrorizes the nation. However, the blood we are faced with after his death is unsettling. We remember that he is in fact a human and not purely a villain.
Griffin characterizes himself as something not so different from the rest of society. Certainly some of his actions ring true as to what an invisible man would do in such a scenario. His atomism is something that Thomas Hobbes considers in Leviathan, something Hobbes believes to be part of the ‘state of nature’. One of the things that I thought humanized him was his constant laughing. Eventhough I pictured it sounding something like Morph from the 90’s X-men cartoon, it was still a humanizing aspect. His identity as a sort of ‘joker’ character, the comic-relief in some ways,  makes his betrayal all the more painful. Ultimately, I believe Moore designed this character to be as familiar as possible so that he could critique the differences between authoritative surveillance (its impotence) and a sort of local surveillance (its strength, but also its possible brutality). Perhaps there’s a middle ground to be had, or perhaps invisibility is the problem. Like I originally stated, the invisible man is an elusive character to define.

Works Cited:

Moore, Alan. League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Volume One. La Jolla: America’s Best Comics, 1999.

Moore, Alan. League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Volume Two. La Jolla: America’s Best Comics, 2002.

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Jekyll / Hyde

Robert Louise Stevenson’s The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde was first published in 1886. Since then there have been many retellings of the tale, one of my personal favourites being the Tweety Bird / Sylvester short “Hyde and Go Tweet.”


Most retellings misconstrue the original dichotomy between Jekyll and Hyde, making Hyde a large and monstrous creature, and Jekyll the small, weak character. The original tale is more nuanced than this. For one, Hyde is depicted as a small, younger, and more effeminate character. Jekyll is the larger more prototypically masculine character. Evil is conveyed as being a sort of feminine quality and ‘Good’ as the masculine. However, it is important to note that Jekyll’s experiments do not completely work. Though he desired to separate good and evil, Jekyll is not the ultimate ‘good’ being he desired to be. Rather, he is consumed with guilt. This is the sort of nervous, sweaty Jekyll we get in LoEG.

Jekyll

As Jekyll continues his experiments, Hyde slowly gains power over Jekyll, which is ultimately portrayed as an increase in size and strength. This is the sort of rendition we see in LoEG and in that Tweety / Sylvester short. The first time we see Hyde in the original novel, he is not the entirely evil entity we might imagine. Though he tramples a small girl (that jerk) he nonetheless reimburses the family, showing some consideration to societal repercussions but no real moral conscience. However, that violent Hyde depicted in LoEG soon emerges after Dr. Jekyll attempts to go without the ‘Hyde’ formula. Jekyll discovers that he is turning into Hyde in the night, likely visiting prostitutes, burglarizing, or worse. Again, this is the sort of night time excursions we see in LoEG. However, the original work did not explicitly describe Hyde’s action as LoEG does. As the book progresses and as Hyde gains strength the role of the formula changes. Jekyll begins to require it in order to suppress Hyde, and the metamorphoses begins to happen even in the waking hours. Eventually Jekyll runs out of his potion and is unable to recreate it. The final portion of the story is told through the framing of a letter written by Dr. Jekyll, explaining his experiments and his worries about an irreversible change into Hyde. Two friends of Jekyll, Enfield and Utterson, discover the letter in Jekyll’s laboratory where they also find Hyde who is presumably dead by suicide. The book closes with the ominous words: “I bring the life of that unhappy Henry Jekyll to an end,” proving, once again, the failure of Jekyll as a being of ‘good’.

So, there isn’t too much changed about Hyde and Jekyll, it is seems more like a natural extrapolation of the original story: Jekyll continues his descent into guilt and misery, where Hyde continues to gain power, redepicted in the physical size and mannerisms of each character. The most major change would be that effeminization of Hyde that has turned into a more bestial, ape-like depiction: top heavy, long arms, flattened face, brownish skin. The word ‘atavism’, I will argue, applies here. As we discussed in lecture, atavism and biological determinism has been applied to popular conceptions of criminality, especially in the Victorian period. Hyde, as a morally void creature, certainly fulfills that ‘criminal’ identity, but also physically displays atavism. What becomes more interesting is how Moore reworks this idea of atavism into a defense of the nation.
Here I’d like to make a connection to Tennyson’s Charge of the Light Brigade. Particularly these lines:

“Theirs not to make replay,
Theirs not to reason why,
Theirs but to do & die”

This is, basically, what Hyde displays at the end of the novel. He kisses goodbye to Mina, who we might imagine as a stand in for Lady Britannia, or, in the very least, that ‘English Rose’ we’ve already discussed in the post dedicated to her. Hyde then has an odd display of showmanship, acting in a mock-gentlemen fashion: doing a dance, wearing his suit with top-hat, and singing rather than swearing. However, as he enters battle he is stripped of that outer-decorum. Hyde becomes primal, swearing, ruthlessly dismantling the alien tripod, and finally eating the pilot of the craft. This seems to be a reinterpretation of that solider identity, connecting a sort of atavism as a requirement of being a loyal British subject. To those who enter battle for the nation, Brittania will give you a kiss on the lips and allow you to touch her breast, but in return you will “do and die.” Hyde’s final act reimagines both the character of the original book, making him into that atavistic beast, but also reimagines the act of the soldier as suicide, not sacrifice.

Innoble Hyde

This act is given to Hyde especially because he is that immoral creature. We cannot misconstrue his act as an act of sacrifice and conscience because he has been chemically altered to be without that conscience. All we have is that critical judgement on what the role of the soldier really is and the disillusionment of Tennyson’s honourable treatment of death for the nation.

Hyde - Welcome to England

I think the most powerful moment in this whole scene, perhaps the whole graphic novel, is the above image: Hyde rips open the alien ship, “welcome to England,” and proceeds to eat the thing alive. Quite symbolically, the aliens blow up the bridge to London proper, leaving them to their solitary, island identity. Ultimately, Hyde depicts the brutal consumption of the non-British by soldiers and colonial powers. Although it may seem very honourable and sacrificial, Hyde himself states the true malicious intent that becomes reflected unto the nation. Moore criticizes the British nation as being blood hungry underneath the vestiges of aristocracy and, so, Hyde is their ultimate soldier.

Works Cited:

Moore, Alan. League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Volume One. La Jolla: America’s Best Comics, 1999.

Moore, Alan. League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Volume Two. La Jolla: America’s Best Comics, 2002.

Mina Harker

Bleiiiiigh!

Bram Stoker’s Dracula was published in 1897. It is a story with many iterations, being the template for the modern vampire narrative. The story is fairly straight forward: Count Dracula requires legal advice to gain access to Britain. The unwitting Jonathon Harker goes to assist the Count in his dealings only to find himself a captive in the mysterious and remote castle. Despite close encounters of the vampiric kind, particularly Dracula’s three sisters, Harker escapes the estate. Dracula follows Harker back to Britain aboard another ship, killing all of the crew on his way. This is where Mina gets involved, who at this time is actually in Budapest where she and Jonathan wed. Dracula begins to search for her but ends up getting involved with a friend of Mina’s, Lucy Westenra. Lucy is in the midst of sorting through marriage proposals from three different men: Dr. John Seward, Quincey Morris, and Arthur Holmwood (or Lord Godalming). When Lucy suddenly begins to wither away these three men band together and collect their resources. Most importantly is a call made to Seward’s old teacher, a Professor Abraham Van Helsing. Helsing immediately identifies the vampiric nature of the illness but does not disclose it to the three suitors. Due to some miscommunication between Helsing and Seward, the Westenra house is left unguarded and is attacked by ‘a wolf’. Mrs. Westenra dies of fright (those sensitive female sensibilities) and Lucy is perceived to be dead soon after. However, after burying Lucy there are reports of children being attacked in the night by a beautiful lady. Helsing returns and, with the assistance of the three suitors, stakes, beheads, and stuffs the mouth of Lucy with garlic (that ought to do it). At this time the newly hitched Harkers return to Britain. Dracula, savvy of Helsing’s plots against him, decides to turn Mina into a vampire. He feeds on her at least three times and also feeds her his own blood, creating a psychic bond (more female subservience). After sweeping London out of all of Dracula’s lairs, the Count returns to his castle in Transylvania. The group hunts him down and, after a spat with some gypsies, they slay the Count. Harker lops of Dracula’s head and Quincey stabs him in the heart, turning the Count to dust. The novel ends with a note from Jonathan Harker, written seven years later, describing that he and Mina remain together with a son.

So, obviously a lot has changed from Stoker’s Mina Harker to Moore’s Mina Murray, and I’m not just talking about the surname. The most prominent change is that Bram Stoker depicts a weak, subservient role for women where Moore turns Mina into a domineering ‘suffragette’.

Suffragette

She’s not only a force to be reckoned with, bravely venturing into opium dens for instance, but she acts as a leader to the League. Part of this role is based in her being original member, the one who collected this rag-tag band of misfits, but also her ability to form plans of action. The only one who doesn’t respect Mina (by the end of the novel) is, of course, Griffin, though, that’s kind of a moot case: Griffin sells out the world. If we were to consider a counter-balance to Griffin’s disrespect it is clearly found in Hyde’s respect, and retribution is fierce.

Mina is Leader

One of the important features of Mina is how she appears as the ‘English Rose’ archetype. She is pale, thin, petite, mannered even in a chase, and conservatively, yet, femininely dressed. Though it is a rather obvious assertion that the images in a graphic novel are important, physiognomy is also an important aspect in Stoker’s work. As David Glover explains:

“[to Stoker] physiognomy [is] a practical science of social relations, through which personality can be read from the configurations of the human face…. Hence, not only are Count Dracula’s malevolent powers recognizable from his ‘fixed and rather cruel-looking’ mouth or his ‘peculiarly arched nostrils,’ but when we meet Dr. Van Helsing, the man who will orchestrate the vampire’s downfall, moral fitness can be immediately discerned from his ‘large, resolute, mobile mouth’ and his ‘good sized nose … with quick, sensitive nostrils that seem to broaden as the big, bushy eyebrows come down and the mouth tightens'” (987).

This idea of physiognomy as a practical science of social relations applies to Mina quite readily. We expect Mina to be some kind of helpless English girl, something which the near rape in the opium den attempts to prove to us. She also behaves with the staunch manners of a lady, speaking politely though she remains in grave danger. However, the physical scarring of Mina’s neck subverts her ‘English rose’ identity. That ‘otherness’ which she keeps wrapped up allows her to not only take charge of a group of misfits, but it also allows her to survive in dangerous circumstances. Consider her posing as a prostitute. This is not only lewd behavior, unbefitting a true ‘English Rose’, but her survival against Mr. Hyde further subverts that helpless girl that is depicted in Stoker’s Dracula.

What acts as the ultimate subversion of the ‘English Rose’ is the fetishization of that scarring. When she finally removes that scarf, it is a source of pleasure in the sex act. It is Allan Quatermain, expert on colonizing ‘otherness’, that helps her with this discovery.

Mina's Neck

I mentioned in my last post that Quatermain becomes a sort of Patriarch to the League. It is this scene in particular that I had in mind as these two fulfill the double taboo of the British colonizer and the British colonized. Though Mina states “I-I quite forbid it,” she cannot resist Quatermain. Rather, as I have already stated, this is part of pleasure of the act, the taboo and fetish relationship. Mina imagines that her scarring makes her “a Native girl.” She is something ‘other’ than British, she is not a member of the nation in this moment. She subordinates her identity to Quartermain as he reinterpolates her as a British subject through his role as a colonizer. In this way her power is given up and she becomes reliant in Quatermain to solidify her British identity.

However, this does not last. She ultimately spurns Quatermain despite his protestations. Moore allows us to trace Mina’s journey from the ‘English Rose’, into minor subversions, into complete inversion, and finally a rejection of that colonized – colonizer interpolation process. Mina’s identity remains open at the close of the novel, which is a true testament to how tricky an author Moore can really be. Furthermore, this rejection of physiognomy as a practical social science reinterprets how identity is founded and read. Moore deflates Stoker’s model of social reasoning.

Works Cited:

Moore, Alan. League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Volume One. La Jolla: America’s Best Comics, 1999.

Moore, Alan. League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Volume Two. La Jolla: America’s Best Comics, 2002.

Glover, David. “Bram Stoker and the Crisis of the Liberal Subject”. New Literary History , Vol. 23, No. 4, Papers from the Commonwealth Center for Literary and Cultural Change (Autumn, 1992), pp. 983-1002.
Published by: The Johns Hopkins University Press.
Article Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/469180

Allan Quatermain

Allan Quatermain appears in a series of stories written by H. Rider Haggard, the most famous being King Solomon’s Mines, written 1885. This book chronicles the adventures of British colonialists searching for the fabled treasures of King Solomon in South Africa. Aristocrat Sir Henry Curtis and a Captain Good approach Quartermain about a search for the mysterious mines. Using a map belonging to Quartermain, one in which he never took seriously, the three prepare for their journey. A native of Africa, Umbopa, also joins them on their quest. Notably, he is described as being more well spoken and handsome than other native Africans. The four proceed on their journey, have a brief quarrel with an elephant who claims one of their servants, and reach the edge of a desert (recall the iconic elephant gun Quatermain uses in LoEG). They proceed across the desert on foot, almost dying in the process, until they reach an oasis: this is the half-way point on the map. From the oasis they reach a mountain named Suliman Berg where they discover the frozen corpse of Jose Silvestre, the cartographer of their map. A second servant dies, frozen, and is left in the cave of Silvestre.

 Book Cover: Presumably Foulata, Quatermain, Cpt. Good, Sir Henry Curtis, Gagool

From here they reach Kukuanaland, a lush and verdant region, whose inhabitants are described as having a well-organized society, including an army, and speak an ancient Zulu dialect. The Englishmen are met with hostility though they are saved by Captain Good’s false teeth: the men fashion themselves as sorcerers, playing off the superstitions of the Kukuana to stave off an early death. We can see a colonial discourse being played out here as the inhabitants are placed in an exotic sheltered location, developing only a ‘primitive’ society.

To continue, the four men are then brought to King Twala, a ruthless and violent leader, and his adviser Gagool, an ancient hag-like woman (a witch in her own right). Umbopa is targeted as a traitor to the royalty and it is only thanks to Solomon's Mines / KukuanaQuatermain’s cunning and protection that he is kept from harm. It is revealed that Umbopa is actually named Ignosi and was the son of the old King. Ignosi was forced from Kukuanaland after the slaying of his father by Twala. The Englishmen are able to gain support for Ignosi by predicting a solar eclipse, again playing on the superstitious fears of the Kukuana. It is Sir Henry who beheads King Twala in a duel during the Ignosi rebellion, ultimately winning the day and restoring Ignosi to his rightful throne.

Gagool, the adviser, is also captured during the battle and leads them to the sought after mines of King Solomon. As Quartermain and his crew marvel at the treasures, Gagool sneaks out and attempts to seal them within the mines. Though she successfully activates the stone door mechanism, one of the Kukuana, named Foulata, manages to push Gagool under the stone door. Foulata is the woman who nursed Captain Good back to health after the great rebellion and, further, is his love interest. Unfortunately, Gagool mortally wounds her and Foulata dies in Captain Good’s arms. The Englishmen, eventually find an exit to the mines after almost starving to death. They are only able to bring with them what diamonds they can fit in their pockets — still enough to acquire a small fortune (of opium?). They then return to England to be among their own people and bid farewell to Kukuanaland and their friend Ignosi.

It is of note that in the other tales of Quartermain he suffers the loss of two different wives and his only son. In the story Allan Quartermain (1887) he himself dies and, ultimately, the battle is carried out by his companions. Notably, this is where Umslopogaas, a Zulu chief, makes his appearance. If you may recall, this is the name Quatermain calls out for in LoEG during his battles with opium withdrawal aboard Nemo’s vessel. Umsolopogaas can be seen as the ‘other’ who, nonetheless, fights to maintain traditional or rightful authority; he is a noble-savage in his own right.

So, what does all this have to do with LoEG? I’m going to argue that Quatermain is a type of detective figure, though it is important to qualify what he detects.
Nemo's Reasoning

Though I may jest at the possibility of a “buddy cop” relationship between Quaterman and Nemo, the possibility of Quatermain as a detective helps us understand the presence of exoticism and the League’s conflict in the Limehouse district. It is important to note that Quatermain is the oldest and most traditionally minded of the group. I like to think of his opium addiction as a period of suspended animation. When Quatermain is released, he is still coming to terms with the modernization of the British nation. What he values is still that old colonialist tradition: ideas of ‘otherness’, of female subordination, exoticism.

                                Bad Cop / Good Cop
We can see how these exotic identities are progressed in Solomon’s Mines as witch-craft, myth, superstition, and magic are characterized in the Kukuana. In Rider’s text, Quatermain is able to detect that there is something noble about Ignosi; he even protects Ignosi at the risk of his own life. It is only later revealed that Ignosi is the rightful ruler of Kakuanaland and that Quatermain’s intuition makes him a defender of traditional authoritative powers. What Quatermain really deduces as ‘evil’ is that which upsets a traditional power structure — his fight becomes one of restoring ‘authenticity’ to Kukuanaland. This is where the two texts, LoEG and Mines, intersect. When Quartermain first confronts Fu-Man-Chu, he immediately recognizes him as evil: that which upsets the traditional power structure. Furthermore, Fu-Man-Chu is much like Gagool who is imbued with a magical identity. For example, the gaze of the exotic other is depicted as being a dragon eye.

Dragon Eye

It is interesting that Dr. Jekyll doesn’t seem to notice how fearsome Fu-Man-Chu is, despite his physical appearance. The inherent ‘evil’ nature of the exotic is posited as a subjective deduction. That is to say, Quatermain only sees ‘evil’ because of his colonial perspective. Counter to Quatermain’s view of ‘evil’, is Nemo, who distrusts the authoritative powers of Bond and, ultimately, Moreirty. That buddy cop sentiment isn’t so far-fetched after all. These two form a dual narrative that shows corruption on both sides of the war over Britain. However, as we have discussed in the last post, Nemo is unable to stop Quatermain from fulfilling his role as a servant to that traditional authoritative powers. Mina’s and Quatermain’s journey into the forest of Dr. Munroe establishes Quatermain as patriarch, fulfilling that colonial era discourse on male-female power relations, but also solidifies Quatermain’s identity as a servant to the nation as he retrieves and delivers the bio-weapons used against the alien invaders. Much like Solomon’s Mines, Quartermain helps re-authenticate Britain through a cleansing of the alien occupiers.

Okay. So to reiterate this rather lengthy post:

Quatermain: Detective. Detects ‘evil’. ‘Evil’ is the exotic, the non-authentic. Fulfills role as a colonial servant to the nation. Opposite of Nemo’s role.

Deep breath — The End! 

Works Cited:

Moore, Alan. League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Volume One. La Jolla: America’s Best Comics, 1999.

No-Man, Nemo

French writer Jules Verne wrote 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea in 1870. Since then there has been many translations and renditions, including the notable Disney rendition, or even Pixar’s Finding Nemo (though that rendition is very loose, it is still interesting to consider its intertextual value). The original text only vaguely resembles the Captain Nemo we see in LoEG. The text begins with rumours of a mysterious sea-monster. A Professor Pierre Aronnax and his two companions, Ned Land (Canadian master-harpoonist) and Conseil (a faithful assistant), are brought on board to hunt the mysterious creature. After much searching the creature is discovered, battle ensues, and the three men find themselves on the metallic hull of Nemo’s Nautilus. Surprise, the monster was no monster at all. Rather, Nemo’s ship is the first electric powered under-sea vessle, prompting its misrecognition as a monster, or creature.

NautilusVerne’s Nautilus.

The bulk of the story follows the travels of this vessel, the exploration of the bottom of the sea, the discovery of mysterious fishes and fauna, and the general stuff of aquatic science fantasy. There is of course the legendary battle with the giant squid, which will come in to play in Moore’s rendition of the Nautilus. The squid parts are an interesting addition to make as Nemo is further identified with the mysteries of the sea and the creature that challenged his own limits. Nemo sheds more of his civility for the skin of a monster. Moore nautilus

Moore’s Nautilus

It is also interesting that Nemo himself is not identified as Indian as he is in LoEG. Rather, his country of origin remains a mystery, even in the final conflict between the Nautilus and said mysterious nation. We get some idea as to Nemo’s self-imposed exile from that nation where tragic circumstances have rended him from his family. Again, Nemo’s exact history remains a mystery. The name Nemo itself is believed to be a reference to The Odyssey, where Odysseus states that he is “No-man”. The latin translation of this becomes Nemo. This is, of course, the same introduction that Nemo gives to Quatermain: Nemo No-One

The story ends with Nemo gripped in despair from the conflict with his homeland. He “voluntarily or involuntarily” drifts into the ‘Moskenstraumen’, a whirlpool off the coast of Norway. The three castaways, Arronax, Land, and Conseil escape, but Nemo and his crew vanish.

Nemo Judge

So what role does Nemo play in LoEG? Primarily, he is the ultimate outsider and judge of the nation’s activities. Moore emphasizes the ‘No-man’ aspect of Nemo and completely disassociates him from the British Nation. This allows him to remain objective and aloof.  It is Nemo, after all, that sends Griffin to spy on Campion Bond, revealing the hidden identity of ‘M’, not Mycroft Holmes but his enemy Moriarty. It is Nemo too that witnesses Hyde’s hidden plan to kill Griffin. His reaction is a violent one, despite that Hyde would likely kill the scantly armed Nemo (a sword is no high powered harpoon gun).  There is an interesting tension between Hyde, being able to see the invisible, and Nemo who acts as judge and observer. We can understand Nemo as seeing these atrocities as they happen, after it is too late to act, where Hyde has a certain foresight. Nemo is one of the few justice oriented members of the League, yet, he lacks the ability to prevent injustice from happening. Though he is right in determining the identity of M, the cavorite is still is delivered to Moriarty; Griffin is still raped; chemical weapons are deployed; atrocities are committed. Nemo’s solution is, ultimately, to resume his exile. The critique becomes a way of seeing the impotence of this particular brand of observant justice. We are frustrated by Nemo’s failed attempts and understand his rejection of the nation. Nonetheless, there is a sense of disappointment as his judgement is not followed through; justice is not served.

Nemo's Nation

Another interesting comparison between LoEG and Verne’s work, one that is easily overlooked, is Verne’s  illustrations. As Arthur B. Evans remarks in his article “Jules Verne’s Illustrators”, “today most French reprints of the Voyages Extraordinaires continue to feature their original illustrations — recapturing the ‘feel’ of Verne’s socio-historical milieu and evoking that sense of faraway exoticism and futuristic awe which the original readers once experienced from these texts,” (241). This type of exoticism and futuristic imagery comes to play in Moore’s work. Consider Quatermain’s awaking on the Nautilus, opening the curtain only to be frightened by an exotic fish. The entirety of the Nautilus itself is highly ornamental in an exoticized Indian fashion. There are images of many armed statues among deep sea diving equipment, all of which is entangled in the tentacles of the giant-squid. The name of this particular collection “Voyages Extraordinaires” should ring some bells in itself. Thus, we can see how Verne’s ouevre, both textual and visual, works as an intertext to Moore’s LoEG. Verne, considered the father of science fiction, permeates the work and grounds the historical generic elements of the text.

Works Cited:

Moore, Alan. League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Volume One. La Jolla: America’s Best Comics, 1999.

Evans, B. Arthur. The Illustrators of Jules Verne’s “Voyages Extraordinaires”. Science Fiction Studies , Vol. 25, No. 2 (Jul., 1998), pp. 241-270. Published by: SF-TH Inc.
Article Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/4240700