The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Volume II is the second installment in the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen comic book series written by Alan Moore and illustrated by Kevin O'Neill which was was published between September 2002 and November 2003 by the DC Comics imprint Knockabout. A trade paperback has been published under both Vertigo and America's Best Comics.
While still borrowing from the works of various authors of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, the plot revolves mainly around the extraterrestrial invasion of H. G. Wells' The War of the Worlds. It is the second and last volume to take place in the Victorian Era and the last to follow the initial roster of the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen.
"The beleaguered London of 1898 has barely had time to assess the injuries of recent conflagrations in its lower class district when a new threat arrives, falling from the upper atmosphere in gargantuan metal cylinders that leading scientists claim have travelled from the planet Mars! Once again a calls goes out to an improbable group of champions: The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen.
Allan Quatermain, Captain Nemo, Hawley Griffin, Dr. Henry Jekyll, Mr. Edward Hyde, and Miss Mina Murray are those champions, and they muse rise to the occasion on their country's dire need, risking life and limb and disregarding all sense of personal propriety. But will even their best efforts be enough against a threat so horrific that it nearly defies description?"
Issue 1: Phases of Deimos
Volume two opens on Mars, where John Carter and Lt. Gullivar Jones have assembled an alliance (including the Green Martians, the Hither People and the Sorns) to defeat the aliens who have been bedeviling the native Martians. These prove to be the aliens from The War of the Worlds, who learn about Earth from spying on the humans on Mars (using a Crystall Egg) and launch themselves there when driven off by the Martian resistance using a huge cannon.
Issue 2: People of Other Lands
When the aliens begin arriving on Earth, the League is dispatched to guard the first resulting crater. They are present when one of the first Martians emerges from the spacecraft, after an onlooker falls into the pit. When a team of men descend into the pit to make peace with the visitors, the aliens unleash the power of their Heat-Ray. Before the weapon opens fire, Captain Nemo realises its nature and pushes the group onto the ground, keeping them below the deadly beam while the rest of the crowd is burned. Dr. Jekyll turns into Mr. Hyde and begins to rage, threatening the aliens with violent death.
Realising that they can hardly fight the creatures alone, the League retreat to a nearby inn where they meet a military detachment led by a confident Major Blimp that has been sent to defend the crater. Hyde indulges in a somewhat compassionate conversation with Mina Murray, and Griffin (under cover of invisibility) leaves to form an alliance with the Martians.
Issue 3: And the Dawn Comes Up Like Thunder
The next morning, the group emerges from the inn and hear the military shelling the spacecraft, and the aliens retaliate with their Heat-Ray. Most of the army division is obliterated along with the inn, which the League were fortunate enough to exit moments before.
A carriageman (William Samson, Sr., the father of the Wolf of Kabul) arrives to take the group back to the British Museum, where they shall receive more orders from Holmes. He tells Murray to stay at the museum and learn what she can about Mars, also giving her the locations of the British gun emplacements. Hyde and Allan Quartermain return to the crater in order to survey the situation, leaving Murray unprotected. Griffin stays behind, assaults Murray, and helps himself to the military plans, which he turns over to the Martians.
During their reconnaissance, the other three members of the League come close to a Martian tripod, an enormous three-legged war machine. They return to their coach and are taken swiftly back to London. Upon returning, Hyde finds Murray lying beaten on the floor and realises what has happened. Shortly after, Mycroft Holmes sends Murray and Quatermain on a new mission, giving them very vague instructions concerning their task.
Issue 4: All Creatures Great and Small
In the meantime, Nemo and Hyde defend the capital by patrolling London's rivers in the Nautilus. The advanced technology Nemo has aboard the Nautilus proves to be an even match for the Martian tripods, allowing them to kill and drive back the Martian advance and retrieve samples of their technology and engineering. They save a boy who is the only survivor from a train attacked by the Martians.
During their mission in the countryside, Murray and Quatermain encounter a man called Teddy Prendrick, the protagonist from H.G. Wells' The Island of Dr. Moreau. He is insane and gives them little information, save that in the woods nearby lurks a doctor whom he once encountered. Their search is uneventful, and they return to a country inn. Quatermain remarks that he'll be damned "if [he] sleeps on the floorboards", while Murray replies that he doesn't have to. The two make love, while Griffin tells the aliens they "have to do something to the river" in order to stop the Nautilus and invade London. Awakening after sex, Quatermain discovers the scars on Murray's neck, and is apparently horrified.
Issue 5: Red in Tooth and Claw
The next day Nemo discovers that the Martians have filled the Thames with some sort of red weed, draining all the water and immobilising his submarine. Meanwhile, Quatermain tells Murray that he was not shocked by the nature of her scars, but rather his second wife (named Estella, from Haggard's book Allan's Wife) had similar scars on her own neck, and that he found it odd "that destiny should so distinguish the two women [he] loved the most".
They have sex again in the forest, but this time are disturbed by one of Dr. Moreau's animen, who is comically based on the children's comic-book character Rupert Bear, and indeed the rest of his animal-human hybrids are similar to famous characters from children's fiction (Tiger Tim and Jumbo Elephant from Herbert Sydney Foxwell's weeklies, Mother Goose, Puss in Boots, and the four male protagonists Mr. Toad, Mr. Rat, Mr. Badger and Mr. Mole from The Wind in the Willows.
Hyde returns to the British Museum and finds Griffin there. Revealing that he has been able to see Griffin all along with heat-sensing infrared vision (a small detail shown in Volume I), Hyde punishes him for the assault on Mina and his treachery by beating and raping him, and leaving him in agony.
Mina and Allan meet with Dr. Moreau in his secret hideout in the forest, and tell him that MI5 has asked for something known as H-142. Moreau seems disturbed by this request, but obliges nonetheless and offers the duo dinner.
During dinner back at the museum, Nemo discovers that Hyde has killed Griffin when the Invisible Man's death results in copious bloodstains becoming visible. Horrified and disgusted, Nemo attempts to kill Hyde, but is held back by the coachman Samson, who urges him not to, as Hyde's incredible strength may be useful against the Martians. Nemo grudgingly agrees.
Issue 6: "You Should See Me Dance the Polka..."
The following morning, upon their farewell at the train station (where Foxes can be seen devouring the body of Peter Rabbit), the Doctor casually comments that his nephew is the only human who visits him, seeking inspiration in his subjects (a reference to the real-life painter Gustave Moreau). He also makes a distinct reference to the trial of the publisher of Oz magazine when he describes the sexual tendencies of his Rupert Bear hybrid. Murray and Quatermain return to London with H-142, finding gas-masked intelligence agents waiting for them, along with Agent Bond. They proceed to the riverside, where Nemo and Hyde are waiting for them. Bond says that all bridges apart from London Bridge have been made impassable in a bid to impede the invaders, and that H-142 must be delivered. Bond leaves with the cargo crate carrying H-142. As the League arrive at the bridge, they see that the Martians have managed to destroy the last of the city's defences and have gathered all their forces on the other side for their final push into the capital.
Seeing that nothing is stopping the Martians from crossing, Hyde bids Murray a fond farewell, and dances out onto the bridge towards an oncoming tripod, singing See Me Dance the Polka. The machine attacks him with its heat ray, burning off all his skin and apparently killing him, but he survives, charging into its front leg and ripping it off. With the walking machine toppled, Hyde rips open the top hatch and begins eating the alien inside. The other tripods activate their rays and kill Hyde with a combined barrage, destroying the only bridge left on the Thames and stranding them on the South Bank.
Following an artillery delivery, Bond tells Nemo that the H-142 has been fired. Quatermain is confused, and Bond explains indifferently that it was indeed one of Moreau's hybrids, but was in fact a hybrid bacterium, made up of anthrax and streptococcus. Nemo is infuriated, and Bond coolly replies that they will claim that, officially, the Martians died of the common cold, whilst any humans found dead will have been killed by Martians. Angered by the British government's reckless use of biological weaponry, Nemo leaves in the Nautilus and tells Quatermain and Murray to "never seek [him] again", mistakenly believing that they knew the details of the British plan.
A month later, Murray and Quatermain are walking through Serpentine Park (which Allan says will soon be named after Hyde, thus giving it the name Hyde Park). Murray says that she is to leave for Coradine, a ladies' commune in Scotland, leaving Allan alone on a park bench, and ending volume two.
Just as in the first volume, the back of the second contains additional information on the League and its world. The chief is "The New Traveller's Almanac," serialized in the back of the six issues and collected in the volume, serving as a guide to the World of the League, including numerous references to classic and modern fictional works, like talk of the City of Opar, and Laputa, narrated by the creators.
The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen film intended to spawn a franchise based on subsequent volumes, with Volume II being the basis for the sequel. Hints to the Martian "volcanoes" appear on posters within the film. The critical failure of the film led to an end of all likelihood of a sequel.