A spin-off of The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, the book revolves around the exploits of Janni Dakkar, daughter of Captain Nemo.
While taking a trip to America, Ayesha, Queen of Kor, is robbed by Janni Dakkar and the crew of the Nautilus. Ayesha's host, a media baron named Kane, vows to retrieve her stolen treasure; he hires a team of adventurers led by a gung-ho twerp named Swyfte to pursue the Nautilus.
Meanwhile, Janni Dakkar has decided to embark on a journey which her father was never able to complete: a voyage to the South Pole. When she and her crew finally reach their destination they find themselves in the Mountains of Madness, where they must confront not only Swyfte and his cohorts, but also abominations of the most eldritch kind.
As with the other League books, the characters are drawn primarily from prexisting works of fiction.
The Nautilus expeditionEdit
Janni Dakkar is an original character created by Moore and O'Neill for the League series; although, as the daughter of Captain Nemo, she is obviously derived ultimately from Jules Verne's Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea. She first appeared in the League book Century: 1910; her original portrayal incorporated elements of the character Jenny Diver and the song "Pirate Jenny" from Bertolt Brecht and Kurt Weill's The Threepenny Opera, but this connection does not play a role in Heart of Ice.
Janni is accompanied by her lover Broad Arrow Jack, lifted from the penny dreadful of the same name by E. Harcourt Burrage. Jack, along with the first mate Ishmael (from Herman Melville's novel Moby Dick) have been portrayed as crew members of the Nautilus since the first volume of League.
Also on board is Professor Augustus S.F.X. Van Dusen, a detective nicknamed the Thinking Machine (created by Jacques Futrelle) although how a detective came to be working for a crew of pirates is unclear.
The other three Nautilus crew who are identified by name are all implied to be descendants of fictional pirates: Old Tom (Tom the Cabin Boy from John Ryan's "Captain Pugwash"), Jake Jr (presumably Cut-Throat Jake, also from "Captain Pugwash") and Mistress Kidd (possibly Mumsy from the Whizzer and Chips strip "Captain Kid").
The expedition also includes an unnamed helmswoman and an Indian man who is referred to simply as the Sepoy.
The ruthless African queen Ayesha is taken from H. Rider Haggard's novel She and was mentioned in previous League volumes, although she makes her first appearance here. She is accompanied by her beau Leo Vincey, introduced in the same novel; here, she kills him when he fails to prevent Janni's robbery. Mr. Kane, although not identified by his full name, is clearly Charles Foster Kane — a fictionalised version of newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst from Orson Welles' masterpiece Citizen Kane.
The three adventurers hired by Kane are all drawn from the "Edisonade" genre: stories from the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries about youthful inventors who save the day with their ingenious machines. Edisonades have been criticised by modern commentators for their racist, imperialistic and reactionary overtones, which may explain why Moore and O'Neill use heroes of the genre as villains in Heart of Ice.
Swyfte, the leader of the three, is a thinly-veiled version of Tom Swift, originating in Edward Stratemeyer's 1910 novel Tom Swift and his Motor Cycle and subsequently starring in over a hundred sequels; the character is still under copyright, hence the change in name. In Heart of Ice he is portrayed as crass, bigoted and willing to cheerfully kill and torture his opponents. Frank Reade Jr. was created by Luis P. Senarens as a successor to Frank Reade, a character introduced in Frank Reade and His Steam Man of the Plains by Harry Enton. Finally, Jack Wright is from Luis Senarens' 1891 story Jack Wright, The Boy Inventor and its many sequels.
The otherworldly creatures encountered by the explorers at the South Pole are lifted from The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket by Edgar Allan Poe (1838) and the works of H.P. Lovecraft.