League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: Nemo: Roses of Berlin annotations

By Jess Nevins


Page 3: Padraig o Mealoid writes, “This image is very similar to the embracing skeletons image from Watchmen.”

Page 4: “Captain Nemo: Science Pirate and Butcher.”

            Padraig o Mealoid adds, “This is presumably meant to be a German propaganda poster, depicting Janni Nemo attacking a Red Cross ship. Interesting that she’s referred to as a butcher here, when she also uses the expression to refer to the people holding Hira & Armand. All a matter of perspective, what?”

Page 7. Panel 1. The “X X” symbol is the symbol of the Tomainian forces of Adenoid Hynkel. It will be repeatedly seen throughout this issue.

Panel 2.Heil, Hynkel.”

                        As shown in the previous issues of League, there is no Adolph Hitler in the world of the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, just as there is no Mussolini and various other major world figures. What we have instead are literary or filmic analogues for these characters. In this case, Hitler is replaced by Adenoid Hynkel, the Hitler analogue from Charlie Chaplin’s The Great Dictator (1940). Set in the fictional country of Tomainia, The Great Dictator is about the rise to power, anti-Semitic behavior, and aggressive political activities of Hynkel.

            “Yes, yes. When these wild blacks yonder are done burning their mummies, I think we can dispense with the formalities. What did her royal majesty have to say about our plan?”

            As a reaction to the cold desert nights, a native Egyptian tradition was to burn mummies to keep warm.

            Panel 3. “She was very pleased with it, my Führer. If we meet their conditions, they will not stand in the way of Field Marshal Rommel's campaign.”

            “Do you hear that, Erwin? We have removed the last obstacle to your victory.”

            “That is wonderful news, my Führer. What are their demands?”

            The second individual from the right is Adenoid Hynkel himself. The individual on the far right is Erwin Rommel (1891-1944), the German Field Marshal during World War Two who became known as “the Desert Fox” because of his exploits while in command in North Africa.

            Panel 3. “She still has a bill to pay, for this she needs our help. Your opponent is also an enemy of Germany and Tomainia, so this drama will play out in our city. Her royal highness in Berlin not only solves their problems, but also ours….”

            So in the world of League there is both Germany and Tomainia, and Hynkel is the dictator of both. Berlin is the capital of Germany. Another location, as we’ll see, is the capital of Tomainia.

            Panel 4. “…and then we'll see whether the people still think I look ridiculous.”

            In the world of League Hynkel exists, therefore The Great Dictator, with its wickedly effective mockery of Hynkel, was about a real person, not an analogue for one. The Great Dictator was successful in drawing attention to how ridiculous Hitler looked.

Page 8. Padraig o Mealoid notes, “Janni seems to be wearing a version of the Niqāb, or Muslim face veil.

Page 9. Panel 2. “Our son-in-law is French, Jack. We could hardly remain neutral.”

            As was explained in previous issues of League, the son-in-law of Janni Nemo is Armand Robur, the son of Captain Jean Robur, of Jules Verne’s Robur the Conqueror (1886) and The Master of the World (1904). In the first novel the French Robur is the inventor of a heavier-than-air aircraft who proves its superiority to lighter-than-air aircraft; in the second novel Robur is a maniac who attempts to terrorize the world from his aircraft.

In the world of League Robur was a kind of colleague and rival of the original Captain Nemo, but Robur’s son Armand married Nemo’s granddaughter Hira Dakkar, thus joining together the Nemo and Robur families.

Panel 3. “Mr. Ishmael? Do we have a problem?”

As was established in previous issues of League, Ishmael, the harpooner from and narrator of Herman Melville’s Moby Dick (1851), is a member of the crew of the Nautilus. Padraig o Mealoid corrects me: “The person here, though, is Tobias Ishmael, who is presumably the son of the original Ishmael, who died in Heart of Ice, but definitely had a wife and son at the time.”

“They’re saying something’s happened to Mr. Robur’s aircraft.”

“The Terror? Tobias, what is it?”

In The Master of the World, Robur’s super-airship is named “The Terror.

Page 10. Panel 2. “We take the Nautiloid along the Elbe.”

            The Elbe is one of the major rivers of Central Europe.

            Panel 4. Padraig o Mealoid writes, “This is presumably the Nautiloid, a replacement for the squid section of the original Nautilus, but now stored inside the mother vehicle.”

Page 11. Panel 1. “We’re lucky that Rotwang feller introduced so many changes.”

            See Page 14 below for information on Rotwang.

            “We took her to see the ghosts on Spectralia…”

            Spectralia is an island on the archipelago of Riallaro, from John Macmillan Brown’s Riallaro: The Archipelago of Exiles (1901). Riallaro is an island utopia near the Antarctic. Spectralia, part of Riallaro, is "the place of ghosts, where the supernatural can have things to itself without the intrusion of sceptical worldliness and common-sense."

            Panel 3. “The markers are all in Rotwang’sbessersprecht’ symbol-language.”

            Bessersprecht” means “better-speak.” Rotwang has invented a superior alphabet to English for communicating, apparently. Padraig o Mealoid adds, “The idea of the Besserspecht is very like Newspeak from George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four.” Padraig later adds, “It’s possible the Bessersprecht is a version of  Charles K. Bliss’s Blissymbols / Semantography, which dates from around the same time.”

Page 12. Panel 2. Why are the German troops asleep? See Page 15below.

Page 13. Panel 1. For the identity of the three characters, see Pages 14 and 15 below.

            Teufel” means “Devil.”

Page 14. This shot, of a futuristic Berlin, is an extrapolation of the Berlin of the Fritz Lang movie Metropolis (1927). The film is set in an unnamed future dystopia which is ruled by Joh Frederson but was designed by the inventor Rotwang. (In the world of League he is “Carl Rotwang”).

            Padraig o Mealoid adds, “The steep incline on the right-hand side with all the people on it is a direct image from Metropolis.” Padraig later adds, “Utamoh: In Metropolis, we see the words UTAMOH X THUMO written on the side of a building, lettered downwards, like this:















What’s interesting about this is that you could flip the letters vertically, as they’re all mirror images of themselves. As you can see in this image, lettering on other buildings is actually in reverse, suggesting it has actually already been flipped.”

Page 15. Panel 1. “I must say, this is a damn mess. Why did no one in my criminal empire know about these new explosive harpoons?”

            “Careful, dummy! You will let me fall! Do not complain, Mabuse. At least it was my my sleeping commandos who were slaughtered.”

            The speakers here are Mabuse and Dr. Caligari.

            Doctor Mabuse was created by Norbert Jacques and appeared in twelve movies and five novels, beginning with Dr. Mabuse, der Spieler (Dr. Mabuse, the Gambler, 1922). Dr. Mabuse is the hypnosis-wielding master criminal of Berlin (hence the reference here to his “criminal empire”).

            Dr. Caligari was created by Robert Wiene and appeared in Das Cabinet des Dr. Caligari (The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, 1920). In the film Dr. Caligari uses hypnosis to control a sleepwalker and commands him to commit crimes for Caligari.

            Obviously Moore’s extrapolation here is that Caligari used his hypnosis to create legions of “sleeping commandos.”

Panel 2. “I can not imagine that their deaths are so different. In addition, there are thousands more of the shit-commandos in the concentration-camps.”

“I told them to be careful. Mabuse, they are incompatible. Does our mission make you a little nervous?”

Panel 3. “What, because we were tasked to capture a member of the Nemo family? Because of our Fuhrer’s new freak ally? In contrast to them, Caligari, I'm not some crazy cripple. Of course I am ... questionable.”

            Heh heh. Don’t worry. Our girlfriend will find them.”

Panel 4. “Maybe. Meanwhile, we should split up to pursue our own projects. You know, sometimes he reminds me of the chief of the American comedians, Addie Hitler.”

There’s a reference here but I don’t know what to. Padraig o Mealoid writes, “If Adolf Hitler is replaced by Adenoid Hynkel, then why shouldn’t that well known London-born American comedian, Charles Chaplin, be replaced by Addie Hitler?”

James Bacon writes that ‘Addie Hitler’ “may be a reference to a Dandy comic story.”

Heh heh. Yes, you're right. Goodbye, Mabuse. I wish them all the happiness, that you will find our prey first.”

Panel 5. “I thank you. Likewise, naturally. Herr Doctor.”

Page 16. “…and Tomainia receives Meccania in the Pan-German Union. This will be celebrated tomorrow at exactly nine clock.”

            Meccania is a reference to Gregory Owen's Meccania, the Super-State (1918). Meccania is the ultimate in totalitarian dystopias, a state completely regimented and controlled by the government. It would be a natural ally of Tomainia.

            Padraig o Mealoid writes, “Is that meant to be Heinrich Himmler, the Reichsführer of the SS, speaking on the television?”

Page 17. Panel 3. The “Twilight Heroes,” mentioned in the Black Dossier, were the German response to the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen.

            “In another heroic German-Tomainian victory…”

            Panel 4. “…the hated war machine of the French criminal Armand Robur was destroyed by…”

            Padraig o Mealoid writes, “It seems that, in the world of the League, television was invented by Dr Rotwang, and not by John Logie Baird.”

Page 18. Panel 1. “…German and Tomainian artillery above Mecklenburg Bay in the Baltic sea. The notorious air pirate Robur was caught trying to board a German airship, captured by surprise and alive. He is currently being held in the police fortress of Metropolis, expected to be tried and executed. In other good news…”

            Panel 2. “…the Red Army was entirely driven back to Moscow. The Russian….”

Page 19. Panel 1. Padraig o Mealoid writes, “‘I’m nearing fifty…’ Janni was born in 1895 (because we know she was fifteen in 1910, during the events of Century: 1910), so in 1941 is forty-six, still a bit off fifty…”

Panel 4. “Shoot them both.”

Page 20. Panel 2. “Poor old Van Dusen” is a reference to Jacques Futrelle’s Professor Augustus S.F.X. van Dusen, the “Thinking Machine,” from 48 stories and 2 novels (1905-1912). He is a brilliant crime-solver, scientist and logician. He is “poor old” because he died in Antarctica, as seen in Nemo’s Heart of Ice.

Page 21. Panel 4. “Here speaks the man-machine. I have located the target.”

            Padraig o Mealoid adds, “There is a 1978 Kraftwerk album called The Man-Machine, originally called ‘Die Mensch•Maschine’ in the original German. It contains a track called Metropolis, as well as a track called ‘Die Mensch-Maschine.’ Well worth listening to.”

Panel 5. “All units to the Hynkelstrasse ramp on the fifth level.”

Page 22. Panel 1. “I am approaching them now.”

            Panels 1-2. This is the android Maria, from the film Metropolis. In the film she is obedient to Rotwang’s orders and was built by her.

            Padraig o Mealoid adds, “At one point in Metropolis Rotwang disguises his robot as Maria, a member of the working classes, to try to incite them to riot, which is who we originally see on Page 19, above. The robot is eventually revealed beneath the skin due to a fire, as seen here, and the real Maria saved from a lynching.”

Page 23. Panel 1. “It’s like her highness from Toyland, Queen Olympia, or that American steam-man.”

            As mentioned in League v2 and the Black Dossier, Toyland—created by Enid Blyton and appearing in Noddy Goes to Toyland (1929)—is a country in the North Pole populated by toys and nursery rhyme characters. In the world of League Toyland is inhabited by far more than that, and is ruled over by Olympia, the doll from E.T.A. Hoffmann’s “The Sand-Man” (1817).

            The American steam-man is a reference to the titular android in Edward S. Ellis’ “The Huge Hunter, or the Steam Man of the Prairies” (Beadle’s American Novels, 1868), the first Edisonade.

Page 24. The men in the balconies on the left are controlling the electricity output; similar actions were seen in Metropolis.

            Padraig o Mealoid adds, “In the upper left-hand corner we see a ten-hour clock, which is from Metropolis.”

Page 25. Panel 4. “The Eternal Garden: State Bordello.”

            Padraig o Mealoid adds, “The Eternal Gardens are from Metropolis. They’re pleasure gardens for the rich young men from the elite classes. So, in other words, a brothel…”

Page 29. Panel 1. The Moloch Machine is from Metropolis. Video here.

            Panel 2.‘his original somnambulist…’ Dr Caligari’s original somnambulist, and the actual contents of the Cabinet in the title of the film, was Cesare, played by Conrad Veidt – whose name was partially influential on the name of another character from Watchmen, Adrian Veidt, AKA Ozymandias.”

            Panel 3. “Thus he strikes deals with Meccania, or with Benzino Napaloni of Bacteria.”

            Benzino Napaloni of Bacteria is the League analogue for Italian dictator Benito Mussolini.

            Padraig o Mealoid adds, “‘exterminating Jews and brunettes.’ In The Great Dictator, Hynkel is also keen to exterminate brunettes.

             ‘Adenoid Hynkel: Strange, these strike leaders, they're all brunettes. Not a blonde amongst them.

            Garbitsch: Brunettes are trouble makers. They're worse than the Jews.

            Adenoid Hynkel: Then wipe them out.

            Garbitsch: Start small. Not so fast. We get rid of the Jews first, then concentrate on the brunettes.’”

Page 30. This is the Ayesha seen in Nemo: Heart of Ice, the immortal African monarch She-Who-Must-Be-Obeyed from H. Rider Haggard’s novels.

Page 31. Panel 1. “Go to Hell!”

            “Your royal highness, I have excellent news. My wonderful Maria has observed that the pirates are approaching headquarters. It is believed that they will arrive soon.”

            Panel 2. “Her royal highness, the sublime Ayesha, prefers not to speak your language. She finds it awkward.”

            Panel 3. “My Fuhrer, there are unconfirmed reports from Mecklenburg…”

            Panel 4. “Before the transfer was stopped, our outpost has reported that…”

            “Not now, dummy! I speak with a Queen.”

Page 35. Panel 1.Draw, my sleep commandos! Hands! Quickly!”

            “My Fuhrer, this has become a dangerous situation. Let the Dawn Heroes handle it.”

            “Yes. Yes, that’s a good idea.”

Page 36. Panel 1. “Wounds of Christ…”

            “Oh, God! Shoot him, my dream-soldiers! Shoot him before he…”

Page 39. Panel 3.Der Mager Mann” is “The Thin Man,” one of Rotwang’s agents in Metropolis.

            Panel 5. “Attention, all (Sled troops?). Meet me on the roof of the Moloch Machine.”

Page 40. Panel 2. Padraig o Mealoid writes, “‘Great Durg.’The Hindi goddess Durga.”

            “If Hira is fifteen in 1941, this means she was born in 1926, so probably conceived very soon after the events of Heart of Ice, which took place in 1925.”

Page 41. Panel 2. Padraig o Mealoid writes, “In The Master of the World, the Terror is used as an air, land, and water vessel, at various stages in the book, originally leading people to believe there were three different vehicles involved.”

Page 42. Padraig o Mealoid writes, “The Terror is equipped with those box-shaped Martian ray-weapons that the Victorian League would have dealt with in Volume II. Presumably these were back-engineered by the original Robur, and added to his arsenal. We see one in the League’s British Museum HQ, at some point.”

Page 43. Panel 4. “Sleep-commandos, open fire on the…”

Page 44. Panel 3. “I countermand the previous order! You should not open…”

Page 46. Panel 5. “Here is Robur, calling the Terror. I repeat, here is Robur. My love, I am with your mother on top of the Moloch Machine. I am so sorry to tell you, but your father is dead…”

Page 47. Panel 2. “I killed the Heavenly Mother of the West with a sword…”

            As seen in Black Dossier, Ayesha killed Hsi Wang Mu, the Chinese eavenHeaHea

Heavenly Mother of the West, Queen of the Immortals, on Mount K’un Lun.

Page 50. Padraig o Mealoid writes, “‘I suppose I shall have to give you what all your kind crave. You will of course want to know the location of my African pool, so that you too may be immortal.’

I think this may be the most important thing in the whole book. At the end of League: Century, there is some conversation about how dangerous it would be if there were an immortal Big Brother, or an immortal Hynkel. We can surmise from what Ayesha says here that she has given away the location of the pool that grants immortality to people before now. What if one of those people was her recent ally, Herr Adenoid Hynkel? After all, there have been stories of Adolf Hitler escaping from his bunker in Berlin, and living on in Brazil, or elsewhere in South America, so why not Hynkel? And, rather than through cloning, how about if Hynkel achieved immortality through simply not dying?”

Page 54. Panel 1. “It’s the Captain! He’s wounded!”

            Panel 2. “Lift it carefully. Not too fast.”

Page 57. Hildy Johnson, as mentioned in Nemo: Heart of Ice, is from the Broadway comedy The Front Page.

            Lincoln Island” is a reference to Lincoln Island, home to Captain Nemo in Jules Verne’s The Mysterious Island (1874), the second of the Captain Nemo novels.

            “Guillaume.” If this is a reference to someone I don’t recognize it.

Page 58. “…the already-tottering Ubu dynasty’s regime.”

            This is a reference to Alfred Jarry’s play Ubu Roi (1896), about the murderous King of Poland. He is famous for his obscenity “merdre,” hence the “merdrers” here.

Finland’s relatively harmless and benign troll population.”

            This is a reference to the Moomintrolls, the lovable trolls from the Finnish Tove Jansson’s wonderful http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moomin Moomin books.

            “…or even their more vicious and belligerent near-relatives in Norway.”

            Just guessing, but maybe this is a reference to the Norwegian film Trolljegeren (Trollhunter, 2010).

            “…against the post-war U.S. communist administration of Mike Thingmaker.”

            Mike Thingmaker is a reference to Soviet science fiction writer Marietta Shaginian’s “Mess Mend” trilogy (1923-1925). In the books Mike Thingmaster (alternatively Thingmaker) is a Connecticut woodworker and a revolutionary Communist who defeats a corrupt capitalist conspiracy and achieves a Communist utopia in the United States.

            “…its ally in the ‘Big Brother’ Ingsoc regime which flourished in Great Britain…”

            As seen in Black Dossier during the post-WW2 period Great Britain was ruled by Big Brother, from George Orwell’s 1984.

Page 59. “Manfred Mors, a grandson of the famous 19th-century German Luft-Pirat who’d had family condemned to labor camps by Hynkel.”

            Captain Mors is a reference to the hero of the Der Luftpirat und sein Lenkbares Luftschiff ("the Pirate of the Air and his Navigable Airship") #1-165 (1908-1911). The creator of Captain Mors is unknown, but it is likely that well-known German science fiction writers of the era, such as Oskar Hoffman, may have been involved. Mors, the "Man with the Mask," is a Captain Nemo-like character, fleeing from mankind with a crew of Indians and involved in a prolonged fight against evil, both on Earth and on Venus, Mars,and the rest of the solar system.

            The original Captain Mors had his family imprisoned in labor camps by the Tsarist regime, so it is family tradition that Manfred’s family be imprisoned by another dictator.

            “…immediately after T.H.R.U.S.H. and SPECTRE…”

            T.H.R.U.S.H. was the international criminal conspiracy in the t.v. series The Man From Uncle (1964-1968). SPECTRE was the international criminal conspiracy opposed by James Bond.

            “The stench of the decaying giant ape that we transported to Skull Island for a decent burial.”

This is a reference to King Kong (1933).

            “…the radioactive exhalations of the huge bipedal saurian with which the Nautilus engaged some several years ago in waters off Japan.”

            This is a reference to Godzilla.

            “…and I remember yet annihilating nests of various extra-planetary species or prodigiously-sized nuclear mutants that were manifesting in America throughout the brief Thingmaker government’s regime and afterwards.”

            This is a reference to the various kaiju and atomic monster movies of the 1950s.

Page 60. “…there are phantoms of the sort one reads about in the accounts of Silence or Carnacki.”

            “Silence” is a reference to Dr. John Silence, the ghost-buster created by Algernon Blackwood. “Carnacki” is a reference to Thomas Carnacki, the ghost-buster created by William Hope Hodgson.

Page 61. The statue of Hynkel balancing the world on his finger is a reference to The Great Dictator.

Inside Backcover: Padraig o Mealoid writes, “grafittied on a wall we see the number 11811 - not a reference to the Eircom directory enquiries phone number, as you might think if you live in Ireland, but the number of one of the workers in Metropolis.” Padraig later adds, “Yoshiwara: This is a nightclub in Metropolis, which is itself named after a famous yūkaku or red-light district in Edo in the 17th century. That long lamp-shade is from the Yoshiwara club in the film Metropolis.



Thanks to: James Bacon, Padraig o Mealoid.