Tuesday, December 18, 2012

From The Idea Hole: The Literati

Hey, remember that thing where I'm willing to spend an inordinate amount of time working on a project, regardless of whether or not its actually a good idea (and for a more recent example, here)?

So, I'm watching The Raven, the recent period crime thriller starring Edgar Allen Poe as a detective's consultant, and in my review of that film, I mentioned an idea I had during the credits about a way to make the movie better. At the time, I still thought the idea kind of sucked, even if it was still better than that movie, but the more I thought about it, the more awesome it became in my head. Its still probably not good enough to merit actually being produced, except perhaps as an insane mockbuster of the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, a movie from several years ago that bombed, but its at least good enough for a pitch from the old Idea Hole. So here it is:

The Literati

It's basically the same premise as the Alan Moore comic and subsequent shitty movie, only instead of literary characters, it is the authors who inspired them teaming up as a group of old timey superheroes against a common threat. The set up would either be that the authors involved were inspired to write their classic tales based on real life experiences that also resulted in them gaining superpowers (experiences which they naturally kept secret), or perhaps some were destined to develop superhuman abilities based on the stories they are most well known for. In either case, the plot would focus on H.G. Wells, flying around history in a time machine he stole from Martians piloted by a crew of good natured Beast Men rescued from the Island of Dr. Moreau (as well as an invisible stowaway, the inspiration for The Invisible Man, who seeks revenge on the good scientist for some past slight).

I will now give you a chance to change your underwear.

Okay, moving on. H.G. would recruit the rest of the team, including Jules Verne, master of various Steampunk technological marvels, Edgar Allen Poe, who sees ghosts and talks to the dead, Mary Shelly, who has unlocked the means to bring the dead back to life and is herself an undead patchwork monster, HP Lovercraft, a dimension hopping demonologist, and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, possessing all the investigative genius of his most famous creation. I'm also toying with Issac Asimov being in the group, a robot disguised as a human, though he would work as a villain as well.

There is no image awesome enough to encapsulate the preceding paragraph, so here is an image of Abraham Lincoln wearing Ghostbusters Gear.

They would do battle against other superpowered authors throughout history who use their abilities for evil, beginning with The Bronte Sisters, possessing an expertise in comportment that translates to a Jason Bourne style understanding of ninjitsu, as well as an insistence on modesty and good manners that borders on fascism. The only other outright villains I can think of would be Ayn Rand, an expert in the exploitation of greed and self interest, able to turn normal people into complete douche bags, Herman Melville, a Prince Namor-esque Master of the Seas who has essentially become Captain Ahab, and L. Frank Baum, who was inspired to write about the world of Oz by the secretly evil residents of Oz themselves, so as to unknowingly create a portal to our world from theirs, precipitating an invasion.

It suddenly occurs to me that with the exception of Baum, every author I've thought of as an obvious villain is one whose novels I struggled with as a young boy, essentially my own literary villains growing up. Perhaps that is besides the point, or perhaps I should also throw in Thomas Hobbes as some massive mechanical Leviathan crushing humans in the state of nature, just to round things out. The rest of the ones I could think of could go either way, either becoming villains, or auxillary members of the team who show up to help out from time to time. They include:

1: J.R.R. Tolkien, master of magic and mysticism.

2: Theodor Seuss Geisel, able to enforce cartoon physics upon normal reality.

3: Ian Fleming, super spy.

4: J.M. Barrie, super fly(er).

5: Bram Stoker, vampire, vampire hunter, or possibly vampiric vampire hunter.

6: Rudyard Kipling, able to commune with animal spirits and take on their abilities.

7: Rober Louis Stevenson, multiple personality sufferer, able to take on new skills depending on who is in his head, including murderous pirate captains and psychotic monsters.

8: Franz Kafka, Brundelfly-esque were-bug

9: Edgar Rice Burroughs, super survivalist, throw him into any environment, be it the jungle or even Mars, and he finds a way to stick it out.

10: Washington Irving, headless Dullahan.

11: And finally, George Orwell, prophet of Doom.

I was also toying with Mark Twain as a rival time travelling huckster as a foil for H.G. Wells, riding a time traveling river boat powered by racism. That one didn't really come to anything though.

So there it is, The Literati. Just as a parody of the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, I think it works well enough, though probably not as anything independent of that. As always, let me know what you think in the comments, as I'm curious to see if anybody actually considers this one good enough to pursue. See ya next time!


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