Nemo: River of Ghosts is a 2015 graphic novel author Alan Moore and artist Kevin O'Neill. It is third part in the trilogy begun by Nemo: Heart of Ice and continued with Nemo: The Roses of Berlin. Like those books, it takes place in the universe of The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen.
The story begins in 1975, with Janni Dakkar an elderly woman who spends her time communing with the ghosts of her departed crewmembers. Despite having avenged her husband by slaying the evil queen Ayesha, Janni is not at rest. She has heard rumours of Ayesha being alive and well in South America, and although the people around her have begun to doubt her senses, she sets off on a journey to find and kill the queen once and for all.
She is accompanied on her voyage by the Ishmael Family, the youthful air pirate Colonel Manfred Mors, Janni's small grandson Jack (who stowed away aboard the Nautilus) and a absurdly powerful bodyguard named Hugo Cochlan. She is aided by intelligence from Ursula Mabuse (the daughter of Dr Werner Mabuse) in regards to the alleged whereabouts and activities of Ayehsa.
The Nautilus passes through the ruins of Mu, the dinosaur-filled Maple White Land from Arthur Conan Doyle's The Lost World, and the habitat of the Gill Man seen in Creature from the Black Lagoon.
Mabuse's intelligence reveals that the alleged Ayesha is working alongside the escaped Nazi war criminal Martin Bormann and a lecherous inventor named Heinz Goldfoot. Janni then orders Mors to head back to the dinosaurs' territory in a flying machine, for reasons as yet unclear.
The crew eventually come upon a factory built into an ancient temple. There, they find Goldfoot and Bormann, along with three Ayesha look-alikes - one of them a young girl. Also there are Josef Mengele, several identical boys and a group of scantily-clad female soldiers. These women turn out to be robotic "Bikinitrons" built by Goldfoot, while the Ayeshas are more sophisticated automata designed to carry on the illusion of an immortal Ayesha following the death of the original. The boys are clones of the Nazi dictator Adenoid Hynkel, being groomed to fill in for the original.
Janni decides to launch an immediate attack on the compound, privately revealing to Hugo that she has a fatal brain tumour - leaving her with no time to prepare a strategy.
Hugo fights off the Bikinitrons, while Janni takes out the two older robo-Ayeshas and Josef Mengele with a grenade. Colonel Mors arrives with dead cattle strapped to the back of his flying craft, luring a flock of pterosaurs in from Maple White Land. Bormann, Goldfoot and the Hynkel clones attempt to escape in a motor boat, but sail right into the breeding ground of the Gill Men, where they meet their presumed deaths.
Although Janni is determined to destroy all of the robo-Ayeshas, her grandson Jack takes pity on the childlike automaton and tries to rescue her from the ensuing fray. However, this machine turns out to be as evil as the original Ayesha and tries to kill Jack; she is destroyed in the nick of time by the Ishmaels' five-year-old child, who has managed to procure a handy firearm.
The Nautilus crew defeats the Nazi forces. Janni Dakkar, knowing that she has little time left, decides to stay behind; she seats herself on a pile of dead Nazis and smashed Bikinitrons, surrounded by the ghosts of her departed comrades- including her father Captain Nemo and her husband Broad-Arrow Jack. The Nautilus departs and the factory explodes.
The book ends with a prologue set in 1987. Jack has grown up to become the new Captian Nemo, and alongside various other international criminals - including the surviving Nautlius crew members, Frau Mabuse's son Helmut, and the Scaramanga Sisters - witnesses the unveiling of a statue commemorating Janni Dakkar.
River of Ghosts is the first book in the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen series not to contain a prose section. The endpapers to the book show the adult Jack sailing the Nautilus past some Lovecraftian creatures frozen in ice, as though retracing his grandmother's voyage from Heart of Ice.
As with Roses of Berlin, the protagonists consist largely of original characters who are descended from earlier fictional creations. Janni Dakkar, who first appeared in The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, is the daughter of Captain Nemo from Jules Verne's 1870 novel Vingt mille lieues sous les mers (Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea); she is now an elderly woman, ready to end her life of adventuring.
Janni is accompanied the ghosts of departed Nautilus crewmembers, which only she can see or hear. IT is left ambiguous as to whether they are genuine spirits or products of her imagination.
Janni's grandson, Jack, is a small boy who stows away on board the Nautilus. He was first introduced as an adult in the pages of The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen.
Hugo Cochlan is a superhumanly strong and uncannily long-lived mercenary whom Janni hires as a bodyguard; during his long life he has been known under other names, including Cuchulainn and Hugo Hercules. In terms of inspiration, he is a composite character. His chief model is Hugo Hercules, the hero of a short-lived comic strip drawn by William H.D. Koerner from September 1902 to January 1903. Cuchulainn is the name of a hero in Irish legend, the son of the god Lugh; since Hugo identifies himself as being one-quarter divine, he would appear to be the son of the original Cuchulainn. Finally, he is implied to be the father of Desperate Dan, and some of his traits - particularly his fondness for cow pies - are directly lifted from this character. The name "Hugo Cochlan" would appear to be Moore's own invention.
Colonel Manfred Mors is a youthful air pirate who is rumoured to be in love with Janni's daughter, Hira. He is the grandson of Captain Mors from the Der Luftpirat und sein Lenkbares Luftschiff (The Pirate of the Air and his Navigable Airship) series that began in 1908, and was introduced by Moore in the text feature to Roses of Berlin - which also established that Hira's husband, Armand Robur, was facing an unknown fate in French Indo-China, hence his absence in River of Ghosts.
The Ishmael Family are relatives of the protagonist from Herman Melville's Moby-Dick. Amongst them is five-year-old Tacarigua, who adopts the name "Misser Izmul" towards the end of the comic. This leads into the character's appearance as Mister Ishmael in both the epilogue to River of Ghosts and in the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen book Century: 2009.
Martin Bormann and Josef Mengele were real-life Nazi war criminals, and are amongst the relatively few historical figures to appear in the League comics. Bormann's presence is a reference to rumours, later debunked, that he had survived the war and fled to South America. Mengele's portrayal is based around that in Ira Levin's 1976 novel The Boys from Brazil in which he is involved with a plan to clone Hitler - hence the identical boys who follow him around in River of Ghosts.
Dr. Goldfoot is an evil inventor with a fondness for nubile women. He is lifted from the 1965 spy-parody film Dr. Goldfoot and the Bikini Machine, in which he was played by Vincent Price.
Goldfoot's Bikinitrons are a small army of scantily-clad female automata. Like their creator, they are borrowed from Dr. Goldfoot and the Bikini Machine, although the comic adds a few more connections: they are identified as being based on the mechanical woman from the 1927 film Metropolis (who appeared in The Roses of Berlin); some of them are shipped to America to become the Stepford Wives, from another novel by Ira Levin; and Hugo Cochlan notes their resemblance to the sexualized female Nazis, with oddly modern hairstyles, seen on the covers to 1970s men's adventure magazines.
Ayesha was the ageless queen of Kor, created by H. Rider Haggard for his 1887 novel She: A History of Adventure. Janni Dakkar killed her in The Roses of Berlin, but she receives a reincarnation of sorts in River of Ghosts, where the Nazis and Goldfoot have constructed multiple robot stand-ins for her.