The League without Mina
by Alex Hern
2. Given how central she is to the story (and considering the end of this book) would it be possible to have a League series (or indeed, team) without Mina Harker?
Yes to the question, no to the parentheses. The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen is far more about the setting than the League itself (to the degree that Chris Sims felt that the story isn’t really there in the latest one), and as such I think it would be perfectly possible to have a series in that setting. Hell, I’d love it! Imagine a tense political thriller set in a world where House of Cards, Yes Prime Minister and the Thick of It were all literally true. Or a crime caper where the antihero is trying to escape the combined forces of every TV detective. Or a mythbending romp where Puck and Hercules have to save Julius Caesar from the Norse Gods. The options are mindboggling, and if Moore were the sort of person to do it (well, do it a second time, after he was burnt by ABC) he could absolutely set up an astounding shared universe in the world of the League.
Except, of course, for two things. The first is that it’s not really Moore’s world, is it? It’s Moore’s and O’Neil’s. It wouldn’t really be the same without both of them on board, and with both of them on board, why not just do the main series. And the second is that as a setting, its potential is obvious, but also too unlimited. The League works well because we see a very limited part of the world, but start expanding that and I fear the whole setting would fall apart. The problem with the conceit – all fiction is true, this is the world it happened in – is that it’s not actually possible. Just as a tiny example, this is a world in which there’ve been thousands of Prime Ministers. If you don’t look too closely, that’s fine, and certainly Moore can do a bit of finessing, as he already has (for instance, in the League world, 1984 actually happened in the fifties, and much of what is “true” in the book is revealed as lies in the Black Dossier), so maybe, I dunno, Hugh Grant’s PM in Love Actually is the same person as Anthony Stuart Head’s PM in Little Britain, just younger. Or something. But the point is that if every character you introduce also introduces everything that happened in their own stories, a shared universe becomes untenable pretty damn quick.
But I digress.
The second question, could the League itself, the team, happen without Mina? It could, but I wouldn’t care to read it. Mina (and Allan, who is unfairly overlooked in this question I feel) are the thread that makes this disperate collection of stories whole. As tantalising as the mention of “Prospero’s Men” was in Volume One, I didn’t need it to be expanded on, because no matter how cool it sounds, reading the “secret history” of a world that doesn’t even have a normal history is actually kind of dull. The only stories without Mina that worked in the Black Dossier were the ones that had another strong character, the Orlando and Fanny Adams ones. Attempting to introduce a whole other team, either before or after the current league, would be pointless, and get messed up in its own history.
I say, if Mina’s story ends but the setting has more gold to give, switch genre, characters, everything. Another League isn’t something I’d care for.