Monday, 22 July 2013
FIGHT! FIGHT! FIGHT! #41
The League of Gentlemen are a loose grouping of characters who inhabit the allegedly fictional village of Royston Vasey. Grotesque, dark and generally odd, they live in an insular world and generally react very badly to the outside one. Played by only three people – Mark Gatiss, Reece Sheersmith and Steve Pemberton – they are men, women, child, and local. The League of Gentlemen ran for three series (and one disappointing film).
The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen is a loose grouping of late Victorian fictional characters, re-appropriated by Alan Moore and Kevin O'Neill for a series of graphic novels. Together they fight for the glory of the British Empire, because that was a super institution, obviously. They are men, women, both, and invisible men. Later on in the series characters from later novels and works of fiction appear but for the sake of sanity we're sticking to the early issues. The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen was also made into a film, but here the word “disappointing” doesn't cut it.
The League of Gentlemen consist of an incredibly wide variety of characters. Simply by sheer force of numbers they might pose a credible threat, although points should be negated for the fact that most of them would attempt to maim, kill and eat each other, only possibly in that order. Whilst they're all capable of acts of almost unspeakable horror, certain individuals are worth pointing out as being particularly dangerous. Local butcher Hilary Briss is capable of... well, no one is sure what he's capable of, but he's certainly handy with a knife. Pauline is a dab hand at kidnapping, as well as the traditional psychological torture meted out to a job seeker. Tubbs and Edward are capable of practically anything, as long as someone isn't local. Papa Lazarou is probably one of the scariest things to ever be seen on BBC2, including Homes Under The Hammer.
The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen consist of a slightly less wide variety of characters but from a much wider fictional pool. Deliberately chosen to encompass some of the most powerful figures of Victorian literature, they're hand-picked to create a team of devastating efficiency. Mina Harker has survived the unthinkable; Quartermain is a crack shot; Captain Nemo is a scientific genius with a proto-submarine; the Invisible Man is, well, invisible.
That's before you even get near the strange powers of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde. Individually, they have the ability to be lethal. As a team, they are capable of bringing down some of the greatest fictional villains of all time. They have the skills, the equipment, and the abilities. Some people have all the luck.
THEIR BACK: WHO HAS IT?
The League of Gentlemen is essentially tied in to itself, inhabiting an individual and mostly fictional world. Even their own creators tried to kill them in the aforementioned disappointing film. Few outsider have been invited in, and so few can said to have their back. One is Christopher Eccleston, a brilliant actor with apparently no sense of quality control. Another is the inexplicably popular Roy 'Chubby' Brown (real name: Royston Vasey).
The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, theoretically, can call on the support of any character from Victorian and Edwardian literature, what with this essentially being the premise of the series. There's also the very real point that they can call on some of the resources of the British Empire at the turn of the century. To put this into perspective, by 1922 the British Empire ruled over 458 million people and approximately a quarter of the land mass of the planet, leading to a continuing political, economic, linguistic and militaristic hangover on the planet that is still thoroughly in existence today. Also, that's a lot of red-shirts.
That said, Roy 'Chubby' Brown is very popular in Blackpool, so bar a large portion of the population of Blackpool the Extraordinary Gentlemen can count on British Empirical superiority. So there we go.
Nuance wise, the League of Gentlemen have cast a long shadow over British comedy and television. The three actors have gone to write and star in a variety of comedy and drama programmes, whilst the hidden writer has also gone on to write for a variety of comedy and drama programmes. The dark, gothic style of comedy remains popular, and the phrase 'Are you local?' is so prevalent that a pub round my way has a yearly festival called 'Are you Loc Ale?'. This is amusing after several pints.
You will have several pints.
The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen can take responsibility for being there at the start of the Steampunk sub genre, taking Victorian fashions and industry and melding them with the computer age. Of a sort. Steampunk fashion today is increasingly popular, looking cool in a corset and goggles without taking into account the racial and social problems that a continuation of Victoriana would bring. It can also take a certain amount of credit the idea of taking other author's creations and moulding them into an unlikely scenario and mashing of genres, with prominent examples including Pride and Prejudice and Zombies and, of course, the popular blog FIGHT! FIGHT! FIGHT!.
Look, I'll be honest, I'm slightly grasping at straws here. With so many characters and permeations available in each canon, the nuances are either so subtle I can't grasp them or so strong they seem too obvious to write about.
Mina tried to look around the darkened room, finding herself wishing for enhanced senses; anything to try and puzzle out why she was here and who else was with her. She knew that at a distance – but not a distance she could measure, not at the moment – there was a large group of people nearby who felt... odd.
There was suddenly a rustling in front of her, and Mina heard the striking of a match. It lit up a hideous countenance which filled her with an instinctive dread. The man – if it was a man – smiled.
Suddenly, as if from nowhere and strictly for narrative purposes, bright lights lit up the room, rendering the dark visage briefly angelic. Then they dimmed, and left the room in darkness again.
Mina headed backwards, quickly and quietly, before lighting another match. She was overjoyed to see some familiar faces stood near her – Captain Nemo, Allan Quartermain and a collection of clothing who she presumed was Hawley Griffin. Indeed, it looked like the whole League had assembled in this strange place, although she knew not why.
Her relief at seeing these figures meant it took her a moment to notice who was standing along the opposite wall. A collection of grotesques were peering at her from the other side of the room.
“Edward, Edward!” squeaked Tubbs, peering at the strange group of people - far too glamorous to be residents of Royston Vasey - “What are they?”
“I don't know, Tubbs,” responded Edward. “I don't think that they're... local.”
“What kind of barbaric accent is that?” asked Hawley from the other side of the room. “They're not... Northern, are they?”
“Edward, he's undressing me with his eyes!”
The one called Edward walked slowly forward, an expression of pure disgust across his face. He stopped, and turned his head to look at them all. He chose the no-tail with the thin, white hair. He should pose the lightest threat.
Quartermain's reaction to seeing a snarling mass of inbred fury flinging himself towards him is to swiftly flick out a handgun and shoot him right in the chest.
“Edward, no!” shrieked Tubbs, running towards his twisted remains.
Taking advantage of the confusion that immediately breaks out, Papa Lazarou's long, clever fingers curl around Mina's wrist. She finds herself being dragged away, a demented minstrel nightmare-face leering “You're my wife now.”
Mr Hyde lumbered forth into the fray, having watched the fracas with interest. Warning Quatermain to take a care with his rifle lest he do something unspeakably biological to him, he waded in, swinging wildly. Cries of “Harvey, no, think of the toads!” and “But I have a Crème Brulee gig next week!” echoed around the hell as bodies flew, and Allan trained his gun on the larger crowd, identifying them for better or for worse as a threat.
It was beginning to look like an overwhelming defeat for the League of Gentlemen, superior arms and fighting skills winning, despite the powers of Papa Lazarou leading to an early casualty on their side. However, more numbers were slowly grouping at the back for the residents of Royston Vasey.
“What's going on, Pauline?”
“I'm not sure, Mickey luv,” was the response. “But let's go get these bastards!”
Armed only with pens, Pauline would have been taken out automatically, but when Geoff attempted suicide rather than fight, he managed to miss his own head from three centimetres, and struck Quartermain through the heart. The Extraordinary team had lost their vital sniper.
“Bloody hell,” said Geoff into the sudden hush, thereby echoing the thoughts of all surrounding them.
The Extraordinary team become aware they were increasingly surrounded by a wide – yet somehow facially similar – variety of enemies.
“Surely we should be able to call on some classic forms of literature?” cried out Nemo, buckling his swash as best as he was able in a grim knife fight against Hilary Briss. “The evils of this monstrous Empire surely at least enable us to call for back up?” He was stopped by Briss nicking his face using nothing but his cleaver.
No back up came. Even Griffin, ducking and diving amongst the multitude, was leapt on with great force and dragged under, seemingly never to return. The last thing he ever heard was “I got one, Pauline!”
Eventually only Mr Hyde remained, his mighty power managing to take out several minor characters but failing to protect Nemo, who was dragged away bleeding and mutilated by Briss; Griffin was lying prone at the feet of Pauline and Mickey, who was crowing over his victory.
The crowd parted suddenly, and a panting Hyde was left alone, surrounded by a braying crowd filled with blood lust and their losses. Out of the darkness came a single figure, vaguely feminine, wearing a pair of familiar hiking boots.
“You,” she pronounced, “Are not local. I think my son David would like to meet you.”
The howls of pain roared long into the night. Oh, what vile things were done in that struggle