sees and deems it his personal failure. “How would I seem to you?” he asks. “Some antique fiend or penny dreadful horror, yet you frighten me ! You have not souls. With you I am alone. Alone in an Olympus. Though accomplished in the sciences, your slightest mechanisms are beyond my grasp. They HUMBLE me, yet touch you not at all” (10.22). Modern time, to Gull, is god-like yet beastly. Despising what he observes, he wishes he had no part in its creation. Here, Moore reveals what he believes to be a fundamental truth: while everyone does not kill, modern society dehumanizes and disconnects from those around us. This point is further highlighted with the reproduction of William Hogarth’s “Reward of Cruelty” engraving, which appears in the chapter preceding Gull’s final and most gruesome murder. In the image, a medical doctor performs an autopsy in front of an audience. The grisly incisions mirror those that fourth victim Mary Kelly sustains. 5 The reproduction of this particular visual quotation reinforces a connection between Gull’s spectacles and the sanctioned sensation of science. Both, according to Moore, damage humanity’s perception of itself. 5 Moore postulates in From Hell that the Jack the Ripper murders suggested Masonic connections. Interesting, Hogarth, a Freemason, portrays a Masonic ritual in “Reward of Cruelty.”
39 The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen , the series Moore created with artist Kevin O’Neill, starts with a quotation similar to that found in From Hell : “The British Empire has always encountered difficulty in distinguishing between it heroes and its monsters.” From the imagined autobiography of British Intelligence officer Campion Bond, it sets forth the primary concern of the narrative: the heroes and monsters of the narrative succeed only because Victorian society has deemed them all monsters. In The League , Moore revises the comic book concept of a superhero team by presenting their Victorian ancestor. The team comprises Mina Murray from Dracula , pulp novel adventurer Allan Quaterman from H. Rider Haggard’s King Solomon’s Mines series, Jekyll (and sometimes Hyde) from Robert Louis Stevenson’s novel, Jules Verne’s Captain Nemo, and H.G. Wells’s invisible man. When he assembles this group, Moore demonstrates a conspicuous problem with superhero teams: none of these characters’ authors constructed them with this history. None were meant to be supporting members of Queen Victoria’s villain-fighting team. Rather, they were meant for their original narratives and nothing more. The final point demonstrates what Moore specifically likes about them. Out of copyright, they are free to be interpreted by any writer. Re-writing their characteristics, Moore thus appropriates them for The League . Moore had the concept of combining literary continuities in mind for quite some time.
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