(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 in blue)
Cover: Jerry Boyajian notes that the title of the book may be an allusion to the 1960 British film The League of Gentlemen, based on a 1958 novel of the same name by John Boland. The movie is about
a group of ex-military men forced into retirement who plan and carry out a bank robbery. One amusing piece of happy coincidence (or is it?) is that two of the characters in the movie's League are named Hyde and Mycroft.John O'Neil notes a possible connection in the title of the book to the rock group The League of Gentlemen. Mags Halliday sees the title as an allusion to the League which helped Percy Blakeney, the Scarlet Pimpernel, in Baroness Orczy's book of the same name.
Peter Briggs suggests that "The artwork style seems, to me, to be vaguely reminiscent of the long-defunct Illustrated London News."
Page 1. Panel 1. Dover is the point in England which is closest to France; it is famous for its white cliffs, which can be seen in the background.
Panel 2. The figure on the cigarette case is Harlequin. To quote from Benet's Reader's Encyclopedia:
Apologies to the individual (whose name I've lost) who suggested, when this issue came out, that the Harlequin here was a Aubrey Beardsley illustration; I doubted you, and I was wrong. The source of the Harlequin is Beardsley's "The Scarlet Pastorale," which was published in 1898 in The London Year Book. Mikael did us a big favor and found an online image of "The Scarlet Pastorale."
Panel 3. As Bill Jennings points out, the image of the hansom cab is linked with A. Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes stories; its appearance here is likely not coincidental, for reasons which will soon become apparent.
Panel 5. "John Bull" is the name of the unofficial icon of England, in much the same way that "Uncle Sam" is the nickname of the unofficial icon of America. You can see images of the pair of them at this very nice Library of Congress exhibit site. (Thanks to Fred Hadley for spurring my correction here.) Peter Briggs notes that "Bryant and May have produced matches...oooh, for ages!"
Panel 7. Our introduction to two characters who will be central to this series. The gentleman is "Campion Bond." This has the ring of the familiar to me, but as best I (or anyone else) has been able to come up with, it's a wholly original name. It could simply be, of course, that Moore came up with a familiar-sounding name which has not literary basis. Kate Paice, among many (many) others, pointed out that Campion Bond shares a name with Margery Allingham's detective character Albert Campion. I myself don't see much resemblance between the two characters beyond the name. Kate also mentions that a "campion" is "a small wayside flower...like a scarlet pimpernel." Mags Halliday mentions that the floral meaning of the campion has some relevance, given that it is a flower like the scarlet pimpernel and the possible derivation of the "League" from the Pimpernel's League.
Pedro Gutiérrez Recacha points out that in this sequence
Bond takes his cigarette case from his jacket, takes a cigarette and fires it; we can't see the character's face till the end of the sequence - is very similar to the sequence of the film "Doctor No" (Terence Young, UK, 1962) in which the James Bond character is introduced -Connery takes a cigarette and fires it whiile playing at the casino. It's not until the girl he's playing against asks his name when the camera shows his face saying his famous sentence "Bond, James Bond"and speculates that this is proof of Campion's relation to James Bond.
Jerry Boyajian reports that a recent Wizard article confirmed that there is no prior literary source for Campion Bond, and that
Page 2. This is our first indication that what we are seeing is the England of an alternate reality. The massive structure that Bond and Murray stand upon is (as can be seen from the plaque) the "Channel Causeway," that is, a bridge across the English Channel, which would link England and France. Although such a bridge, like the idea of a tunnel under the Channel, has been proposed for many years (Henry Spencer notes that the idea was first proposed in 1802, to Napoleon), nothing like this was ever built, not just for the obvious political reasons but also for technological ones; the machinery needed to construct a bridge of this size, like the cranes seen here, was not available, certainly not in 1898. We might surmise that the reason for such the difference in this world is that personalities from Victorian-era fiction, such as Sherlock Holmes, might have made a difference in the course of events, and so put England much farther ahead than it otherwise was. So this series might properly be called "steampunk," for that genre of fiction, including Paul Di Filippo's "Steampunk" trilogy, Ronald Clark's Queen Victoria's Bomb, and Bruce Sterling & William Gibson's The Difference Engine, in which science fictional events take place against the backdrop of the 19th Century, usually late 19th Century London. (Nancy A. Collins points out that K.W. Jeter's Morlock Night and Infernal Devices: A Mad Victorian Fantasy (not Infernal Machines, as I first wrote; thanks to Robin Anderson for correcting me) predates DiFilippo's and Gibson's work) Emilio Martin prompts me to add Tim Powers' novel The Anubis Gates to the list of steampunk novels.
Stuart Nathan says, of the Channel Causeway:
Moore isn't the first Brit author to mention this. in Michael Moorcock's Hawkmoon novels (particularly the first tetralogy, "The Runestaff") there is a 'Silver Bridge' across the Channel, linking England, or as it's called here the Dark Empire of Granbretan, with Europe — most of which it has conquered. Moorcock is, like Moore, a heavily-bearded science fiction author who has consumed more drugs than is feasible.The one-and-a-half-armed statue of the woman on the bridge is of Britannia, who is a personification of the British Empire. The first known instance of the use of this figure to represent Britain was on a Roman coin, circa 150 AD; the figure was revived in 1665, during the reign of Charles II.
The lion appears on the arms of England in passant gardant, that is, walking and showing the full face, as it does here.
"Albion reach," seen on the stand below the lion, is a sort of double pun, I think. "Albion" is an ancient, poetical name for England, most likely deriving from the Latin "albus," (white) and from the white cliffs of Dover. So "Albion reach" puns not only on "all beyond reach"--that is, England being beyond the reach of the world--but also on "reach" in the meaning of "England's grasp"--that is, England, by linking itself via the bridge with France, has France, and perhaps the world, within its grasp.
Stuart Nathan adds:
In your note on 'Albion Reach', you don't mention the literal - non-punning - meaning. A reach is a stretch of water visible between bends in a river or channel. It's quite natural that a bridge connecting England to the continent would be sited at Albion Reach.Note the pun on the crane's side.
Paul O'Brien points out that the announcement of the delay in the completion date of the Causeway is a reference to "the infamously behind-schedule" construction of the Channel Tunnel.
Page 3. Panel 1. I'm afraid I'm going to have to spoil the identity of "Wilhelmina Murray" at this point, so if it's surprises you are after, read no further.
"Wilhelmina Murray" is in fact Mina Harker, of Bram Stoker's Dracula. "Murray," in the novel, was Mina Harker's maiden name, and "Mina" is short for Wilhelmina. In Dracula Mina Harker was the wife of Jonathan Harker, the putative protagonist for the novel; they, along with Dr. van Helsing, came into conflict with the vampire, and eventually triumphed, although not before Mina was bitten by Dracula and forced to drink his blood. At the end of the novel, however, she was again human, and with Jonathan and their son seemed to be a family. Clearly something happened between then (1897) and the current time to cause Mina to divorce Jonathan.
Panel 3. It may be that Bond's "ravished by a foreigner" is a reference to Mina's being bitten by Dracula, although knowing Moore's work it's something more intricate.
Page 4. Panel 1. Campion Bond's words here imply that he works for the British Secret Service. It may be that Moore is implying that Campion Bond is a familial predecessor to James Bond - a grandfather or great-grandfather, perhaps?
Mycroft Holmes, in the world of A. Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes, is the older, fatter, and more intelligent brother of Sherlock Holmes; it was established in the Holmes stories that, just as Sherlock had occasion to render Her Majesty certain services, so too did Mycroft, but on a more regular basis. In "The Adventure of the Bruce-Partington Plans," Holmes and Watson have this exchange:
I had some vague recollection of an explanation at the time of the Adventure of the Greek Interpreter.
"You told me that he had some small office under the British government."
"I did not know you quite so well in those days. One has to be discreet when one talks of high matters of state. You are right in thinking that he is under the British government. You would also be right in a sense if you said that occasionally he is the British government."
"My dear Holmes!"
"I thought I might surprise you. Mycroft draws four hundred and fifty pounds a year, remains a subordinate, has no ambitions of any kind, will receive neither honour nor title, but remains the most indispensable man in the country."
"Well, his position is unique. He has made it for himself. There has never been anything like it before, nor will be again. He has the tidiest and most orderly brain, with the greatest capacity for storing facts, of any man living. The same great powers which I have turned to the detection of crime he has used for this particular business. The conclusions of every department are passed to him, and he is the central exchange, the clearing-house, which makes out the balance. All other men are specialists, but his specialism is omniscience. We will suppose that a minister needs information as to a point which involves the Navy, India, Canada and the bimetallic question; he could get his separate advices from various departments upon each, but only Mycroft can focus them all, and say offhand how each factor would affect the other. They began by using him as a short-cut, a convenience; now he has made himself an essential. In that great brain of his everything is pigeon-holed and can be handed out in an instant. Again and again his word has decided the national policy. He lives in it. He thinks of nothing else save when, as an intellectual exercise, he unbends if I call upon him and ask him to advise me on one of my little problems."
At the turn of last century (around 1900), in the Naval Department offices at Whitehall (that time part of the Foreign Office) was a man called Robert Cummins. When British Intelligence was formed separately, he was made first head of it, and liked to be known by the initial of "C". Afterwards, it became a tradition to call the head of this department by their initial, hence "M" in Bond, which itself has actually passed into usage!I should add that I've read, in at least one history of the British Secret Service, that the single initial tradition predates the Victorian era and goes back to Elizabeth's time.
Panel 3. "We live in troubled times, where fretful dreams settle upon the Empire's brow." It is interesting that Bond says this, in light of the fact that 1897, the previous year, was Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee, an event of great, even overwe'ening, self-celebration on the part of the British.
But the truth is that despite the boasting and hubris of the Diamond Jubilee, the general mood among British leaders and opinion-makers was pessimistic. France was re-emerging as a world power and expansionist European rival, newly-united nations like Germany and Italy were disturbing the familiar world order, British exports were falling, and the supremacy of the British manufacturing and commercial empire was being threatened by Germany and the United States.
As well, as Owen Erasmus points out, in 1898 Britain was run by the Conservative Party, who whipped up fears as a way to maintain power. Which are a few of the reasons that someone like Campion Bond would be worried about the future, even in an alternate Earth like this.
Page 5. Panel 2. We're in an opium den; those long instruments the men are holding are opium pipes.
Thanks to Daniel Nogly, I can now provide an Arabic translation of the following pages.
Guide: "Who's staying here, Miss?"
Panel 3: Guide: "Whom are you you seeking here?"
Murray: "Thank you for your great help."
Page 6. Panel 2. Ms. Murray is speaking to Allan Quatermain, the hero of H. Rider Haggard's Quatermain books, the most famous of which is King Solomon's Mines. Quatermain was one of the prototypical square-jawed Great White Adventurers, journeying among native races in lost worlds on Earth. Allan Quatermain had an enormous amount of influence on pulp/genre literature afterwards; everyone from Edgar Rice Burroughs' John Carter to DC's/Ken Fitch's/Bernard Bailey's Tex Thompson to DC's/Whitney Ellsworth's/George Papp's Congo Bill to Indiana Jones can trace their lineage to Allan Quatermain.
Obviously his fate here, as an opium addict, is a new twist on the character, who was killed at the end of Allan Quatermain, in 1887. (His supposed death is referred to in Chapter 1 of "Allan and the Sundered Veil," in the back of this issue)
James Hudnall points out a website for those interested in finding out more about Allan Quatermain & H. Rider Haggard. It's a Haggard bibliography written by the author Jessica Amanda Salmonson, of the whizzo-keen Violet Books.
It might be supposed that Moore is at least indirectly influenced or inspired in part by the Wold Newton genealogy created by Philip José Farmer in Tarzan Alive! and Doc Savage: His Apocalyptic Life. The theory was that a meteor landed near Wold Newton, in Yorkshire in the 18th century, and irradiated a number of pregnant women, thus producing a family of extraordinary individuals, including everyone from Tarzan to Doc Savage to Sherlock Holmes to Harry Flashman to Travis McGee. For more information on the Wold Newton universe, check out The Wold Newton Universe web site. (R. Winninger notes that Moore directly refers to Tarzan Alive! in his preface to the collected edition of Frank Miller's The Dark Knight Returns.)
Panel 11. Mina: "Get off!" Guide: "Come here, woman! We are not that ugly. That's just a glass . You won't feel a thing."
Panel 12. Fat Guy: "Come on...be nice to us."
Page 7. Panel 1. Slim Guy: "You are going to like this. We are his darlings [favourites]."
Panel 3: Slim Guy: "...yes, that´s better."
Panel 4: Slim Guy: "I swear to God."
Panel 5: Quatermain: "That´s enough!"
Panel 6: Quatermain: "...leave her alone or I´ll crack your heads open."
Panel 7: Fat Guy: "...he´s exaggerating ...just look at him. He´s a destroyer."
Slim Guy: "You live like a dead man. Among gnats."
Panel 8: Slim Guy: "I´ll make a gnat out of you."
Panel 9. Martin Linck, a gentleman and scholar of much learning, contributes the following:
This panel depicts Quatermain's revolver, in detail, as he discharges it into one of Miss Murray's assailants. This panel attracted my notice because the revolver appears to be of a very unusual type. First, we can see that, unlike a modern revolver, and, indeed, unlike most revolvers being produced in 1898, this revolver has nipples portruding from the back end of each chamber on the cylinder. The presence of these nipples indicates that it is a black-powder weapon, requiring each chamber to be manually loaded with powder and ball. Once each chamber is loaded, a mercury-fulminate impact cap is placed over each nipple, the idea being that the hammer will strike the cap, send a spark through the nipple into the chamber, and detonate the round. Next, I feel I must point out that this weapon appears to have NINE chambers: One nipple is under the hammer, as the weapon fires, and I count four more on the side of the cylinder facing the reader. The other side of the cylinder must display a similar number. Very few revolvers have nine chambers; the more usual designs (such as the Colt Single-action Army or the Smith and Wesson Schofield) all boast six. Finally, this revolver appears to have two barrels: look closely at the illustration, and you may perceive that the cylindrical structure beneath the barrel proper is, in fact, another bareel, of a diameter equal to that of the first.Paul Andinach adds that
You may be wondering where I'm going with this. I shall keep you in suspense no longer: I must conclude, on the basis of these observations, that the revolver is a LeMat's, a very famous, rare and unusual weapon dating from the American Civil War. The LeMat's was, arguably, the highest incarnation of the concept of the black-power revolver. As I've pointed out, it had nine chambers, each containing a ball of .36 caliber, allowing the marksman 50% more shots between reloadings than his opponent. .36 caliber rounds are less effective than the .45 caliber rounds of Army Colt black-powder revolvers, but are on a par with the Civil-War-Era Navy Colts (the venerable Model 1851) However, this was not the main selling point of the LeMat's. The second, lower barrel pointed out previously is, in fact, a 12-gauge shotgun barrel. In dire extremity, or at will, the owner of the pistol could flip a lever on the side of the frame of the weapon, which would cause the impact of the hammer to fall, not on one of the chambers in the cylinder, but on the primer of the shotgun, discharging a hail of lead or shrapnel at his foe.
What does this choice of weapon say about Allan Quatermain? Not having read any of the novels about this character, I cannot say whether the LeMat's occurs anywhere in them. If it does occur, its presence here is easily explained...If Moore includes it here by his own prerogative, the problem becomes knottier. The weapon is archaic, even in 1898, since black-powder weapons became more or less obsolete in the 1870's, with the introduction of cased ammunition...I can only speculate that Moore might have included it here because it is a weapon that has an undeniable style. Not for Moore, the mass-produced and cliched Remington or Webley; no, he insists that the weapons his characters carry, like the characters themselves, be charming artifacts of the Victorian era; out-of-place in any modern context, but the paragon of man's ingenuity in their own time. I should add that I recently had a chance to inspect a LeMat's during a visit to Tombstone, Arizona, and that it differed in some small details from the weapon depicted here. I attribute these small differences to artistic license, however, and consider them of no consequence.
In KSM, Quatermain helpfully provides a list of all the guns packed for the expedition [available on request]; in AQ, he is less helpful, but it's possible to get an idea of what they are packing from various references. Neither book mentions the LeMat; Quatermain's revolver of choice appears to be a Colt.Peter Briggs wonders if Quatermain got the LeMat from John Carter, in "Allan and the Sundered Veil" (see below).
Panel 12: Fat Guy: "Son of a bitch, you killed my brother... I´ll tear your heart apart."
Page 8. Panel 1. Fat Guy: "You damned English...dirty..."
Panel 2: Fat Guy: "Son of a whore!"
Panel 3: Fat Guy: "You'll not stay tired.You are going to..."
Panel 4: Fat Guy: "...die?"
Panel 8: Fat Guy: "My friends, they have killed me! ....don´t let them escape!"
 What the "glass" comment might be is unclear; Daniel Nogly's translator said that it meant specifically a "wine glass."
 I'm assuming that "he's a destroyer" is a phrase for an opium addict.
Page 10. The submarine seen here is, of course, the Nautilus, the craft of Captain Nemo, of Jules Verne's Twenty Thousand Leagues Under The Sea and its sorta-sequel The Mysterious Island.
Jules Verne is commonly credited as the creator, with H.G. Wells, of modern science fiction. The Captain Nemo of the Disney film, the Nemo played by James Mason, is not the Nemo of the Verne novels. Verne wrote somber novels, full of gloom and marvelous (to late 19th century eyes) science, with a charming, romantic misanthrope in Nemo, someone quite a distance from Mason's Nemo.
Peter Briggs says that "that elegant symbol between the Nautilus' gallery "eyes" looks like a gussied-up question mark to me..." The question mark, as we'll see, becomes a leitmotif for this series.
Kelly Tindal says that "I notice that O'Neill's version of the Nautilus does not appear to have the three-sided spike on the nose that allowed it to sink so many ships and carve up the cunning cachalots...is it retractible? It seems to be an important point, as it is one of the only parts of the Nautilus that is described in detail." Kelly follows up by asking,
Since O'Neill's version of the Nautilus is clearly an original design, one must assume that the Nautilus did not have the tentacles upon it until further into its adventures...did Nemo add them after the battle with the squid pod in "Leagues" as a sort of honor to a vanquished foe (one which almost cost him his life)? I ask because tentacles such as O'Neill's would certainly have aided Nemo in escaping the underwater cave beneath Lincoln Island.Cory Panshin says, of the Nautilus, "Since I don't recall Verne describing the Nautilus as squid-like (but only as a sea-monster), I can't help wondering if this depiction of it is a Lovecraft reference."
Page 11. Panel 3. This is Captain Nemo. The Verne character is, as Moore shows here, an Indian prince, a Sikh, driven to misanthropy by British injustice; he is not someone who looks like James Mason. The specific event that drove to Nemo to become a pirate was the brutal suppression by the British of the Indians during their 1857-1858 uprising, an event that left a deep mark on the Victorian psyche, and an even deeper one on the Indian's; it was full of brutality and atrocities on both sides, and strengthened British conservatism on the subcontinent.
In The Mysterious Island, Nemo's origin is described in this way:
In 1857, the great Sepoy revolt  erupted. Prince Dakkar was its soul. He organized the immense upheaval. He put his talents and his riches to the service of this cause. He sacrificed himself. He fought in the front lines, he risked his life like the humblest of those heros who had risen up to free their country; he was wounded ten times in twenty encounters but could not find death when the last soldiers of the fight for independence fell under English bullets.
 "Tippu-Sahib" was, presumably, Tipu Sultan (1753-1799), the son of Haidar Ali. Haidar Ali (1721-1782) took the throne of Mysore in 1761, warred on the British, and eventually forced them to sign a treaty of mutual assistance, in 1767. Haidar Ali, with French help, attacked the British in the Carnatic in 1780, but was killed in 1782. Tipu Sultan carried on the battle in the Second Anglo-Mysore War, but stopped when French aid was withdrawn, in 1784. In 1790 Tipu attacked the city of Travancore, starting the Third Anglo-Mysore War, but was defeated in 1792. In 1799 Tipu, deep in correspondence & negotiation with the French, refused to cooperate with the British Governor General in his efforts to suppress French influence in India. The British sent two armies into Mysore and drove Tippu into Seringapatam, his capital, and took it by storm; Tipu died, bravely fighting in a breach in the walls.
Fred Ferro adds that Tipu Sultan, the "Tiger of Karnataka,"
That shell on the front of Nemo's turban is, of course, a nautilus.
"Memesahib" is a Hindi word, used by Hindus and Muslims in colonial India when addressing or speaking to a European woman of social or official status; "sahib" is the word used when addressing a male.
Chris Davies points out that this is "both the first time he's been depicted as ‘Indian' in dress, and that (aside from that) he winds up resembling Nemo's portrayal in ‘Fushigi no Umi no Nadia' fairly closely." Fushigi No Umi No Nadia, aka Nadia: The Secret of Blue Water, is an animé set at the same time period as League, and is about a circus girl named Nadia, and is roughly based on Twenty Thousand Leagues.
R. Winninger, among others, points out that Nemo was sixty during the events of Mysterious Island, which would make him considerably older during League #1, and that Moore & O'Neill have taken some artistic license with Nemo's appearance here, Nemo not being nearly so distinctively Indian in dress in the Verne novels.
William Stoddard, among others, took issue with the idea that Nemo could be both Hindu and Sikh. However, Moore himself has stated flatly that Nemo is a Sikh, so the conclusion to be drawn, I think, is that Nemo is ethnically a Sikh and a Hindu by faith. Santosh Menon adds the following:
Actually it is kind of possible for Nemo to be a hindu and a sikh. Hindu families in punjab sometimes initiated the eldest son into the sikh faith; sihkism being a martial religion in some sense and sikhs being the defenders of the faith and the land - more or less.Santosh added, in a later e-mail:
There is one unlikely "fact" here though - Prince Dakkar/Nemo as Tipu Sultan's nephew ie the sikh nemo is the muslim Tipu's nephew.
Good news ;) - it is actually possible for Nemo to be Tipu's nephew. In fact it is quite easily explained. There are several parallels of muslim/moghul monarchs marrying the daughters of Rajput/Hindu Kings in Indian history. And possibly vice-versa. The most famous example is that of Akbar the Great - he married the the daughter of the Rajput king of Amber, Rajasthan. Many of these were intended to achieve alliances between the kingdoms sometimes in the face of a perceived common enemy (some of these were love affairs and have inspired painful hindi films). So the british would have presented a common enemy here. QED. (Caveat - in our universe this is a bit unlikely; bundelkhand is in Central/North india and Tipu's sphere of operations was entirely in the peninsula.)All of the preceding said, those, like me, who have no problem with Nemo being shown as so overtly Indian in League must admit that he was given no particular ethnicity in Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea, and that it was only in The Mysterious Island that his ethnicity, along with his background, were revealed. Jean-Marc Lofficier was kind enough to provide me with a scan of the original illustration by Alphonse de Neuville of Captain Nemo, which you can see here.
As for the hindu-sikh part - martial sikhism is popularly believed to have evolved from hinduism in response to invasions (mostly muslim) from the middle east and central asia. It is not all that unusual to find sikhs worshipping in hindu temples and vice-versa. There lot's of revisionism and grenade lobbing over the origins and history of sihkism so i'll leave it at that.
The white man, on the right, is Nemo. A (very) rough translation of the text which accompanies his first appearance reads:
The second unknown man deserves a more detailed description. A disciple of Gratiolet or Engel could read his open physiognomy. I immediately recognised his dominating qualites: his confidence, for he held his head nobly on an arc fromed by the line of his shoulders, and his black eyes looked at me with a cold assurance; his calm, for his skin, pale rather than colored, exhibited the quietness of his blood; his energy, which was seen in the quick contraction of his muscles; and finally his courage, for his great respiration implied a big heart.Clearly, Verne engaged in a bit of retconning in changing Nemo into an Indian. (He originally wanted to make Nemo Polish but was talked out of it by his publisher.) Which is certainly his right, as the author, but it does leave those of us with a penchant for continuity in a bit of a bind. But in the world of League Nemo is clearly an Indian, and that's that.
I judged that this man could be trusted, for his close looks and his calm seemed to reflect deep thoughts, and that the homogeneity of expressions in the gestures of the body and face, following an observation of his physiognomy, resulted an inscrutable frankness.
I felt myself involuntarily reassured in his presence, and this augured well for our interview.
This person had thirty-five or fifty years, I was unable to judge more closely. He was tall, with a wide forehead, a straight nose, a clearly drawn mouth, magnificent teeth, fine hands, a lengthy and eminent body...all of which seemed worthy worthy to serve such a high and fascinated soul. This man formed certainly the most admirable type that I had ever met.
Ivan Kristofferson points out that "There is an old superstition among seafarers that it brings bad luck to have women aboard. Maybe this is what Nemo's reluctance to `have women on his ship' is referring to."
Panel 4. "Mohammedan" is an old word for Muslim; it was, though, in vogue during the Victorian era. Moreover, as an Indian, Sikh, and Hindu, it is quite logical that he would be contemptuous of Muslims; the Sikhs and the Muslims have rarely gotten along well, and more often been at each other's throats.
Panel 5. Man: "Don't let the white devils escape...the damned tall one...isn't he..." 
 The "isn't he" is presumably the pursuing man (policeman?) recognizing either Quatermain or Nemo.
Panel 6. Man: "You will tell us..."
Page 13. Panel 5. As Jason Fliegel points out, "Nemo" is Latin for "no one." "Nemo" isn't the real name of the Captain of the Nautilus, in Verne's novel; when asked his identity, he says,
Page 14. Panel 3. Kelly Tindall asks, "When we first see Allan in the Nautilus, he is topless and clearly has three ragged scars on his belly. Attacked by a tiger or lion? Which "Allan Quatermain" story is that from?" Paul Andinach responds to this question: "In King Solomon's Mines (and again in Allan Quatermain, I think), Allan mentions an encounter with a lion, earlier in his career, that left him with a recurring pain in one leg. The scars may be from the same attack."
Page 15. Panel 1. The "diamond mines" Quatermain raves about are King Solomon's, which Quatermain found after many a fierce adventures. "Umslopogaas" was Quatermain's brave and noble Zulu companion. His fate is revealed in "Allan and the Sundered Veil," at the back of this issue. Taina Evans adds, of Umslopogaas' death, that
it is gone into in more detail in Rider Haggard's final Allan novel- the eponymously titled Allan Quartermain (1887, as you note elsewhere). Umslopogaas' death is undoubtedly heroic--and gone into in far more detail than in the Sundered Veil story--as is Allan's death.The steering wheel of the Nautilus, seen behind Nemo and Murray, is the god Siva, in his dancing form. Siva is the Hindu god of destruction and of the dance, and one of the three most important of the Hindu religion. It makes a certain amount of sense that Nemo, who is both warrior and philosopher/scholar, would worship Siva, who embodies those (and other) characteristics. Plus, as Moore pointed out in an interview, making the steering wheel of the Nautilus into a statue of the dancing Siva is good design sense; this is another deviation from the description of the Nautilus in the Verne novels, but one within the bounds of artistic license.
Panel 2. We get another hint about the nature of this alternate Earth: Nemo, Quatermain, and the others were written about, and their adventures popularly consumed, just as certain gunfighters in the American Old West read about their exploits in the pulp press. Bill Jennings notes that this happened to Sherlock Holmes, also, as seen in "The Valley of Fear."
Panel 4. As Bill Jennings points out, still another indicator of the true identity of "Mina Murray" is seen here; Bill notes that "while sidestepping the issue of her ‘qualifications' to be involved with men as dangerous as Nemo & Quatermain, Murray is unconsciously holding her scarf, even pointing to her neck." Dr. Eric Fennessey notes that Mina's scarf is red, a perhaps-deliberate hearkening to Walter Sickert's red scarf in Moore's From Hell.
Page 16. Panel 1. A few people, MogenDave among them, have pointed out that the Parisian cityscape seen here seems to indicate that this really is a Steampunk story, what with the balloons, smoggy sky, and the strange vehicle in the lower right. Pedro Valente notes what I should have gotten immediately: that this is a reference to Jules Verne's Paris in the Twentieth Century.
Panel 3. The "‘Mysterious Island' affair" is a reference to the book of the same name, the kinda-sequel to Twenty Thousand Leagues Under The Sea.
Page 17. Panel 1. Auguste Dupin was the creation of Edgar Allen Poe; he was the brilliant French amateur detective, and appeared in "Murders in the Rue Morgue," "The Mystery of Marie Roget," and "The Purloined Letter." Poe, in the character of Dupin, is credited with establishing, to the greatest degree, the genre of detective fiction. Like Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes, Poe's Dupin was based on a real character, but the elements which make the stories part of the detective genre were Poe's alone. Terence Chua adds that the source for Dupin was Francois Eugene Vidocq, an ex-criminal who rose from being an informer for the police to the head of the Sureté (the Parisian police force). More on Vidocq can be found here.
Duncan questions how Dupin could still be alive, given the time between "Murders in the Rue Morgue" and the current story. "Rue Morgue" was published in 1841, and if Dupin had been 30 in the story, he'd be in his late 80s in League: old, but certainly not out of the realm of the possible.
As a few people pointed out, including Warren Ellis (!) and Pete Meilinger, an early Sherlock Holmes story referred to Dupin, with Conan Doyle, via Holmes, being contemptuous of how Poe wrote Dupin. In "A Study In Scarlet," Watson, in response to a typically Holmesian explanation, says:
Sherlock Holmes rose and lit his pipe. "No doubt you think that you are complimenting me in comparing me to Dupin," he observed. "Now, in my opinion, Dupin was a very inferior fellow. That trick of his of breaking in on his friends' thoughts with an apropos remark after a quarter of an hour's silence is really very showy and superficial. He had some analytical genius, no doubt; but he was by no means such a phenomenon as Poe appeared to imagine."
Panel 4. The "Whitechapel fiend" is Jack the Ripper, who preyed on the poor women of the Whitechapel district of London.
Panel 5. The Anna/Nana Coupeau referred to here is Emile Zola's character from L'Assommoir and Nana; she is a woman who is driven to prostitution by the alcoholism of her parents.
Panel 6. A "demi-mondaine" is a prostitute, more specifically kept women or women putting themselves forward for same.
Page 19. Panel 3. My guess is that Murray's reluctance to remove her scarf is due to the lasting scar left on her throat by the bite of Dracula.
Pages 21-22. My French is not good, but I'll try to translate...
Page 21. Panel 8. Dupin: "Excuse me, ma'am."
Panel 9. Streetwalker: "Good evening, Daddy. You again?"
Dupin: "I'm looking for a woman. A small brunette. She was with a client..."
Page 22. Panel 1. Streetwalker: "Yeah, I saw her steal my client! She went in that direction with Henry The Englishman less than two minutes ago!"
Dupin: "This Henry is a strapping man, yes? A true gorilla?"
Panel 2. Streetwalker: "Henry? He's a small Englishman. He has a place on the corner."
Dupin: "Thank you, ma'am, you were very helpful."
Panel 5. Ivan Kristofferson notes that what is being thrown out of the window is an umbrella holder made out of an elephant's foot.
Page 24. The monstrous "Edward" is Edward Hyde, of Robert Louis Stevenson's The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. In the novel the good Dr. Jekyll uses drugs to separate his "libertine side" - his id - from his normal self. This leadss to the emergence of Jekyll's evil side, Edward Hyde, who indulges himself in various unspecified depravities.
In the book, however, Hyde was younger than Jekyll, as well as being stunted and nimble; as Peter David pointed out, via the Marvel supervillain Mr. Hyde, the story can be seen as an allegory of evolution, with Hyde being monkey-like, and therefore a step down the moral and evolutionary ladder from Jekyll. Hyde was not the monstrously huge figure seen here. As well, at the end of the novel Hyde commits suicide rather than face the gallows (thanks to R. Winninger for correcting my mistake here). No doubt these will be explained away as Quatermain's and Nemo's "deaths" were.
Steven Costa notes that the heavy cane Hyde is carrying here is the same kind that he used to kill Sir Danvers Carew in The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde:
He had in his hand a heavy cane, with which he was trifling; but he answered never a word, and seemed to listen with an ill-contained impatience. And then all of a sudden he broke out in a great flame of anger, stamping with his foot, brandishing the cane, and carrying on (as the maid described it) like a madman. The old gentleman took a step back, with the air of one very much surprised and a trifle hurt; and at that Mr Hyde broke out of all bounds, and clubbed him to the earth. And next moment, with ape-like fury, he was trampling his victim under foot, and hailing down a storm of blows, under which the bones were audibly shattered and the body jumped upon the roadway...J. Keith Haney adds, about Hyde:
It was two o'clock when she came to herself and called for the police. The murderer was gone long ago; but there lay his victim in the middle of the lane, incredibly mangled. The stick with which the deed had been done, although it was of some rare and very tough and heavy wood, had broken in the middle under the stress of this insensate cruelty; and one splintered half had rolled in the neighbouring gutter - the other, without doubt, had been caarried away by the murderer.
I have some hypotheses regarding the character of Henry Jekyll/Edward Hyde that came from my recent viewing of Rouben Mamoulian's "Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde" starring Fredric March. For starters, let us take the cane Hyde wields as he charges into the room in the very last page of the main story. The cane is practically identical to the one used by March's version of Jekyll/Hyde in the film (indeed, it becomes the murder weapon you mentioned in your annotation as well as the vital clue to the killer's identity). Secondly, the evolution of Hyde's physionomy can also be traced back to the film's treatment on the subject. With each onscreen transformation, Hyde becomes more monstrous, more simian than the previous one. Eventually, as in this series, any sort of stress will trigger the transformation, drug or no drug. It therefore is not that great a leap for Hyde to eventually become the huge Hulk-like creature he is by 1898.Note the "Edison/Teslaton" insignia on the wirebox. This provides a clue, I think, as to the source of the advanced science of League's England. Thomas Edison, of course, was the brilliant inventor and self-promoter who, with his associates, developed and created, in 1879, carbonized cotton thread as a filament for conducting electricity; this eventually led to the development of the electronic vacuum tube, and was directly responsible for electric lamps and lighting.
Edison's electronic inventions were powered by direct current - that is, an electric current flowing in one direction only and being constant in value/power. Nicola Tesla (1856-1943) was an electrical engineer who worked for Edison and later became his rival; Tesla invented, in 1888, the alternating current induction motor, which made possible the universal transmission and distribution of electricity. Alternating current is electric current which reverses its direction at regularly recurring intervals; Tesla's alternating current generators are the basis for the modern electrical power industry.
In real life Tesla had a difficult time persuading people to make use of alternating current, for Edison was much more popular and well-known at the time, and Edison felt that alternating current was dangerous to human beings. In the world of League, however, a way was seemingly found to combine the two.
"Allan and the Sundered Veil." I didn't know the literary source of "Lady Ragnall," but Jerry Boyajian did, and this is what he said:
Lady Ragnall dies in Allan and the Ice Gods and bequeaths Allan her supply of the taduki leaves. The fumes from the leaves allowed Allan and Lady Ragnall to experience past lives. I suspect that Quatermain's addiction to opium in League of Extraordinary Gentlemen is the result of his supply of the leaves being exhausted and his inability to get more. Lady Ragnall says in "...Sundered Veil" that the two of them are addicted to the leaves (though it might have been hyperbole). The opium might've been Quatermain's way of dealing with taduki withdrawal.
The only problem here is that Allan and the Ice Gods takes place prior to Allan Quatermain (in which Allan supposedly dies), but the reference to the latter book in "...Sundered Veil" clearly places this story long after the book. So how can Lady Ragnall still be alive? Given that (a) Allan's death was faked, and (b) there are a couple of instances in the novels where Lady Ragnall is believed dead but actually wasn't, I'd suggest that her death was as fake as his.
Re 'Sundered Veil', you say 'I'd suggest that her death was as fake as his.' (Lady ragnell). The text actually says 'Her ladyship was not without some personal experience in feigning death', and that she 'staged her own end some years earlier'. Just thought I'd let you know that you are therefore correct.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 #2 of The League.
Page 30: the ad for "Rosa Coote's Correctional Academy for Wayward Gentlewomen." This is a reference to the anonymously-authored Victorian-era work of erotica, The Yellow Room, which starred the lusty heiress "Rosa Coote." Rosa Coote also appeared in a series called "Miss Coote's Confession," which appeared in the magazine The Pearl in the 1880s. (SRowe noted this, too)
Page 31: the ad for the first issue of Tom Strong, also written by Alan Moore.
Page 32: the ad for the consulting services of "S. Blake." This is a reference to Sexton Blake, who will make an appearance in future issues. Sexton Blake, created by Harry Blyth, first appeared in The Halfpenny Marvel #6, in December 1893; he was a consulting detective who lived on Baker Street, in London, and solved crimes with the help of Tinker, his young assistant. Moore has said that Blake, seeing that Sherlock Holmes is dead (according to Moore, in 1898 Holmes has already battled Moriarty for the final time and is thought dead by the public), has moved into Holmes' lodgings and is taking over for Holmes. It should be noted that Blake did not begin as a Holmes copy; if I might be so immodest to quote myself,
...when Blake began he had none of the characteristics of Holmes. He wore a bowler, not a deerstalker, was muscular rather than tall and lean, and used a heavy walking stick. He lived not on Baker Street but in New Inn Chambers, with his offices on Wych Street, off the Strand. And he was not a lone investigator, but was rather paired with Jules Gervaise, a French detective. (To quote one critic, "in those days it was a privilege to be linked with a French detective, so well had Messrs. Gaboriau and Leroux done their work.") It wasn't until a few years later, at some point in the late 1890s, that Blake (apparently in need of some build-up) moved into Baker Street, acquired a Mrs. Hudson-style housekeeper, and began taking on Holmes-like characteristics.Much more information on Sexton Blake can be found at my Sexton Blake page.
More than a few people, including Bill Jennings, Terence Chua, and lordjulius, pointed out that Moore's dates are off here; Holmes' "death," in "The Final Problem," takes place in 1891, with his return, in "The Adventure of the Empty House," clearly taking place in 1894. The easiest response to this (besides Moore's simply playing with dates to suit his convenience) is that Watson deliberately fudged the dates in his stories, although that response brings with it problems of its own.
Back cover: We see here the five people who will be making up the League. Moving from the cuff-linked hand, they are: Allan Quatermain, Captain Nemo, Mina Murray, The Invisible Man, and Mr. Hyde.
The Invisible Man, aka Dr. Griffin, was created by H.G. Wells in his 1897 novel The Invisible Man.
karfan usefully points out that there is a theme with the individuals who make up the league:
James Goldin sees a resemblance between this joining of hands and a similar scene in the origin of the Fantastic Four.
Regarding the quote, Robert W. Sharp notes that, although there never was a publisher named "Meeson's," H. Rider Haggard did write a book called Mr. Meeson's Will, which contains a lot of satire about the publishing industry.
Thanks to Robin Anderson; Paul Andinach; Trevor Barrie; John Walter Biles; Chris Blakely; Steve Bolhafner; Jerry Boyajian; Peter Briggs; Peter Brulls; Terence Chua; Nancy Collins (!); Steven Costa; David Crowe; Chris Davies; Doktor Pete; Dave Van Domelen; John Dorrian; Johanna Draper; Duncan; Warren Ellis (!); Owen Erasmus; Taina Evans; Frederic Ferro; Steven Flanagan; Jason Fliegel; James Goldin; P. Graves; Fred Hadley; Mags Halliday; Scott Hamilton; Brian Hance; J. Keith Haney; James D. Hudnall (!); Brian Jacobson; Bill Jennings; karfan; Ivan Kristofferson; Yeechang Lee; Martin Linck; Jean-Marc Lofficier; lordjulius; Kiralee Macauley; Rafael Marin; Dave McKenna; T. Troy McNemar; Don MacPherson; Marc; Marcia; Kevin J. Maroney; Emilio Martin; Matt; Drew Melbourne; Bala Menon; Santosh Menon; Mikel Midnight; Mikael; MogenDave; Stuart Nathan; Daniel Nogly; Paul O'Brien; John O'Neil; Kate Paice; Cory Panshin (!); Bradly E. Peterson; Pedro Gutiérrez Recacha; Josiah Rowe; Steven Rowe; Sgarre; Robert W. Sharp; Danny Sichel; William Stoddard; Bill Svitavsky; Jonathan Swerdlow; Anthony Tan; Kelly Tindal; Christopher L. Tumber; Pedro Valente; Todd VerBeek; Jason Verbitsky; Lawrence Watt-Evans (!); and R. Winninger.
And thanks, of course, to Alan Moore, who said of these annotations that "It's really heartening to know people are going over it in such depth and detail."
Go on to issue #2
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
And now, at long last....
Return with me now to the thrilling days of yesteryear with the Notes to the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen v2 #1.
Good heavens, Holmes--those are the tracks of a giant Notes to the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen v2 #2.
Rum, sodomy, and the lash can be found in Notes to the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen v2 #3.
There are three sure things in life: death, taxes, and Notes to the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen v2 #4.
Up the airy mountain, down the rushing glen to Notes to the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen v2 #5.
Return of the Son of Up the sequel to Notes to the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen v2 #6.