• Hellboy: The Wild Hunt #8 (Feature Image: The Osiris Club) Annotations 

    Hell Notes: The Heliopic Brotherhood of Ra

    By | October 2nd, 2015
    Posted in Annotations | 8 Comments

    Welcome to Hell Notes, Multiversity Comics’ annotation column for the Hellboy Universe. Sorry this one is a little late. I had something entirely different planned for September and it fell through.

    For now, I’m going to look at the Heliopic Brotherhood of Ra.

    Spoiler Warning. I’ll be discussing huge spoilers for Frankenstein Underground, the latest developments in B.P.R.D. Hell on Earth: End of Days (Part 1), plus a lot of general stuff from Witchfinder, Hellboy, and Abe Sapien.

    THE GOLDEN AGE

    And Larzod said, ‘Behold,’ and light sprang forth out of his eye, and the darkness of that place became as day, and things hidden since before the coming of Man were revealed. And it was like in the beginning when Atum-Ra, with his great eye, looked into the abyssal waste of the Nun and saw it, and had understanding of it.

    In 1728, a French merchant named Eugene Remy published a pamphlet, an account of his recent visit to Egypt and his encounter with a being he called Larzod. Remy claimed that Larzod had led him into a secret chamber beneath the Great Pyramid of Cheops. There, Larzod revealed to him knowledge kept secret since the time of Atlantis.

    Remy’s claims were largely dismissed, but his writing caught the attention of some wealthy patrons and in following year the Temple of Heliopolis was established, and with it the Heliopic Brotherhood of Ra. The Brotherhood believed Remy’s claims of a pre-human race (the Hyperboreans1) and of a mysterious power called Vril2. The Brotherhood arranged expeditions and performed experiments, and soon they had more than just Eugene Remy’s writings upon which to base their organisation: they had scientific proof.

    Eugene Remy died in 1745, and for a while the Brotherhood was without its founder. But Remy returned to them. In 1845, a thirteen-year-old girl from Nîmes, France, proved herself to be the reincarnated Remy. She was renamed Tefnut Trionus, Queen of Heliopolis, and became the only female member of the Heliopic Brotherhood of Ra.

    This was considered the Golden Age of the Brotherhood, and in this period the society grew enormously. In 1857, the Universal Temple of the Heliopic Brotherhood of Ra was established in London, and in 1872 the Golden Lodge was established in New York City.

    In 1882, Tefnut Trionus confided to those in her inner circle of visions she had had. She told them of the Watchers, the creation of the Ogdru Jahad, the birth of the Ogdru Hem, and the war that followed. She also told them of the fall of the Hyperboreans, how Ogdru spirits had corrupted the hearts of the first men. And she told them of the end, how the world would be overrun with Ogdru Hem. But she also saw hope.

    THE EXPEDITION INTO THE HOLLOW EARTH

    Queen Tefnut Trionus believed the remnants of Hyperborean civilisation in the Hollow Earth would be the refuge of humankind. Over several years, an expedition was arranged. They set off in 1889, led by an American and former soldier called William. The expedition members were expecting a paradise, but what they found was more akin to Hell; the Hollow Earth was full of monsters. William and a few other survivors found refuge in a Hyperborean city, but it was too late for William’s daughter, Norah. She died in her father’s arms.

    During the night, the spirit of the city filled Norah and brought her back to life. The expedition members thought it was a miracle, and that they really had found their promised land. But one of the expedition members, Dr. Lubitsch, started digging around in the Hyperborean tombs of the Black Priests. He awoke an Ogdru Hem spirit, which he channelled into William for his own purposes.3

    Norah saw the change in her father and confronted him, so William shot her. Since then, all the expedition members grew older, but never died. By 1956, they were all walking corpses, except William and Dr. Lubitsch; those two had not aged a day. And that’s when Frankenstein’s creature showed up (or Frank as I like to call him).

    Continued below

    Frank was of particular interest to Dr. Lubitsch. He believed that Frank had been brought to life by Vril, the secret flame. This was true, and it was through the Vril power inside him that Frank was able to talk to the Hyperborean spirit that had possessed Norah so long ago. From her, he learned how the Hyperborean city had been perverted by the Black Priests during the later years of the Hyperborean Empire, and how the evil that had destroyed the city lived inside of William.

    Of course, there was a big confrontation with Frank, Dr. Lubitsch, and the possessed William. Frank’s efforts released the Hyperborean spirit, destroyed the Ogdru Hem spirit, and freed the souls of the expedition members.

    As for Frank, he was alone, but the underground was transformed into a beautiful garden. Perhaps some day this garden will be the refuge of humanity, just as Queen Tefnut Trionus foretold.

    THE FALL OF THE BROTHERHOOD

    In 1883, Tefnut Trionus relinquished her crown and retired to a small farm in Manitoba, Canada. She lived there quietly until she died in 1939, over a hundred years old. I wonder what caused her to retire though? Could it have anything to do with Sir Edward Grey, the paranormal investigator and agent of Queen Victoria?

    Sir Edward has quite a history with Brotherhood. He first encountered them in London, 1879, while investigating the mysterious deaths of the Saunders Expedition members.4 The Saunders Expedition had apparently discovered a civilisation in the Sahara desert that predated the human race. So obviously this was of interest to the Brotherhood.

    To make things even more interesting, the Saunders Expedition had found the bones of a creature (one of the slave race creatures created by the Hyperboreans in the Hollow Earth). The spirit of this creature fed on the ectoplasm of each member one by one, gradually returning itself to life. Sir Edward sought to bind the spirit back to its bones, while the Brotherhood wanted the bones for their own studies.

    August Swain, a member of the Brotherhood, attempted to buy the bones from Sir Edward, and when he was refused, delivered a thinly veiled threat. Later the Brotherhood tried threatening Sir Edward at gunpoint (which obviously didn’t work because you’ll never get Sir Edward to co-operate by pointing a gun at him).

    But the biggest mistake the Brotherhood made was when tried to capture the Hyperborean slave creature.

    Oh, and there was one other thing that the Brotherhood wanted, one of the relics found by the Saunders Expedition…

    Yep, that’s the sword of Agent Ted Howards5 from the B.P.R.D. And before it was his sword, it belonged to the prehistoric warrior Gall Dennar. And in 1879, for a short while, it was Sir Edward’s until the Heliopic Brotherhood of Ra knocked him out and stole it. Of course, they couldn’t kill an agent of the Queen without causing trouble for themselves, so instead they killed all Sir Edward’s allies.

    That was a pretty stupid move on their part. They had lit a fire under Sir Edward, and he wasn’t going to rest while the Brotherhood operated. In 1880 he travelled all the way to Utah just to track down Lord Adam Glaren, a member of the Brotherhood. Sir Edward was extremely persistent.

    The 1880s were a period of upheaval for the Heliopic Brotherhood of Ra, and no doubt Sir Edward had much to do with this, but unfortunately those stories haven’t been told yet. The Witchfinder series is only up to 1881 at the moment. I suspect we’ll bump into the Brotherhood in the next miniseries, which will likely be set in 1882. If not that one, then the one after that.

    However, we aren’t completely in the the dark. We know Sir Edward was involved in the investigation into the Jack the Ripper murders in 1988. Rumours have it the Brotherhood was involved in this affair. Sir Edward wanted to reveal the true identity of the killer, but Queen Victoria thought it best to keep this information a secret, prompting him to leave her service in 1889.

    Continued below

    After that he set about his own business… which is interesting because in 1890, the Golden Lodge in New York and the Temple of Heliopolis in Paris both closed. I suspect Sir Edward was involved. In 1893, the Universal Temple in London closed, an incident Sir Edward was certainly involved in; he admitted it himself in the pages of Hellboy in Hell.

    This is one of many reasons why I get so excited about new Witchfinder stories. There are so many mysteries waiting to be be explored.

    THE OANNES SOCIETY

    Oannes.

    Other secret societies have their roots in the Heliopic Brotherhood of Ra. The Oannes Society was born in 1736 from a heated argument between Brotherhood members concerning the origins of the Egyptian god Atum. According to the revelations of Larzod, Atum was self-created. However, a small number of Brotherhood members believed Atum was “born from the primal sea.”

    These members left the Heliopic Brotherhood of Ra to form the Oannes Society, named after Oannes, the fish-man that was said to have taught the Babylonians horticulture and geometry. Unlike the Brotherhood, the Oannes Society did not grow over time, but rather dwindled. However, they had a few wealthy members, so they could still afford rather elaborate expeditions for the scientific research.

    In 1834, the young scientist (and future B.P.R.D. agent, Abe Sapien) Langdon Everett Caul joined the Oannes Society. Caul became an important part of the Oannes Society. Together with Ensner, Dameron, Sundbourne, and McWhirter, Caul discovered the location of Atlantis. In 1865, while exploring the ruins, Caul recovered a mysterious egg with some kind of entity inside it. During an attempt to commune with the entity, the spirit inside the egg awoke and entered Caul, transforming him into Abe Sapien.

    Caul’s companions were thrilled. They thought that Caul had been filled by the spirit of Oannes himself. And then they abandoned him. For whatever reason, Caul’s fellow Oannes Society members were afraid to stay in America after Abraham Lincoln’s assassination. Why they had anything to do with this event remains a mystery.

    Abe Sapien isn’t the only B.P.R.D. member with ties to these mysterious societies. In 1859, an elaborate party was held in the home of Lord Minnbrough for the unwrapping of a mummy from Thebes. Among the guests were Oannes Society and Heliopic Brotherhood of Ra members… Oh, and Panya. She was the mummy. You can imagine how excited everyone was when they discovered the mummy was alive.

    Lord Adam Glaren, of the Heliopic Brotherhood of Ra, took Panya into his care. Panya was never a member of the Brotherhood, but she certainly had a lot of contact with its members. For a while she was somewhat of a celebrity in London, until Lord Glaren decided to limit her contact with certain undesirable people (such as Martin Gilfryd, the curator of the Historical Society’s Egyptology Wing6).

    Though she was very involved in the Brotherhood’s activities, she was also a prisoner in their care. Eventually, Panya had had enough, and she escaped from the Brotherhood with the help of Oannes Society members Ensner, Dameron, Sundbourne, and McWhirter.7 Little did Panya know, she was merely changing prisons.

    The Oannes Society took Panya to a small island in Indonesia, where she stayed for well over a century. In that time Panya worked on experiments with the Oannes Society, creating a host of hybrid animals. But the Oannes Society did not trust Panya. She had already escaped the Brotherhood, and they were careful to make sure the same thing couldn’t happen. They burnt opiates around her bed to mute her psychic abilities. Over time, Panya became enfeebled, unable to walk, and, eventually, unable to leave her bed. At the time Panya said this was her age catching up to her, but since then she’s been examined by B.P.R.D. doctors that believe Panya is actually getting younger and may walk again. Perhaps the Oannes Society was doing something to her without her knowledge. Or perhaps Panya wasn’t being entirely truthful. (It wouldn’t be the first time.)

    The thing is, practically everything we know about Panya we have heard from Panya herself. It’s possible (though I think unlikely) that even her name may is a lie. The Oannes Society called her Naunet, a name Panya protested at every opportunity.

    Continued below

    I don’t know what happened to the Oannes Society. Perhaps it continued to diminish until there were no members left. I do know at least four members remained: Ensner, Dameron, Sundbourne, and McWhirter. They stayed with Panya on the island in Indonesia, working on their own projects. However, the were getting old, and so they built new robotic bodies for themselves, becoming Victorian cyborgs. These were merely temporary bodies though.

    The four Oannes cyborgs were working on four bodies: large muscular men—their idea of perfection. These bodies would function as spiritual reservoirs, able to hold millions of human souls. The plan—originally conceived by Caul before his transformation—was to set off a series of earthquakes along the Pacific Rim, creating tidal waves that would kill millions and channel their souls into the Oannes Society’s waiting bodies. Ensner, Dameron, Sundbourne, and McWhirter were to each have a body of their own, full of human souls under their stewardship, each a living nation of humanity. With these bodies, they planned to claim dominion over the new world that will arise after the Apocalypse.

    Pretty crazy, huh?

    When Abe found these four Oannes members again in the early Twentieth Century, he was horrified that it had been his former self that had come up with this idea. He turned on the Oannes Society and utterly ruined their plans. Abe hacked Sundbourne to bits, blew up Dameron, and broke Esner’s cyborg body and left him to die.

    Only McWhirter escaped. He showed up briefly at the end of B.P.R.D.: King of Fear

    …but hasn’t been seen since. However, given that the last issue of B.P.R.D. had the Oannes Society submarine make an appearance, I think we’ll be seeing McWhirter again very soon.

    The Oannes submarine appears in B.P.R.D. Hell on Earth #135: End of Days (Part 1).

    THE OSIRIS CLUB

    Another secret society with its origins in the Heliopic Brotherhood of Ra is the Osiris Club. The club began with seven members, six of which were from the Brotherhood. On the 2nd of September, 1866, these six held a séance with Miss E.T. Hatton wherein the spirit of Larzod appeared before them. He told them they would live to see the last days of humanity, and that they should watch for the coming of a king. According to Larzod, this king would refuse his crown, yet his soldier would still know him. In the end, the king would lead his army into last battle. The king would die on that battlefield.

    Miss Hatton and the other six became the Osiris Club. Over time they accepted new members, and searched for signs of the coming king. In 1954, they made an arrangement with Professor Trevor Bruttenholm, Director of the B.P.R.D.: he was to send them his adopted son, Hellboy, for a test. Hellboy wasn’t told much by Bruttenholm, only that he should trust the Osiris Club.

    The Osiris Club told Hellboy he had to slay a dragon: the Saint Leonard Worm. They gave him the spear of a Sixth Century monk and sent him on his way, telling him that his success was “inevitable”. Hellboy was confused by the whole affair and thought that maybe the whole thing was a joke. But there was a dragon, and it nearly killed Hellboy. It was only by luck that the dragon was killed. The Osiris Club considered the result inconclusive; their experiment was a failure. However, they would continue to watch Hellboy.

    There’s a couple of curious things about this. Firstly, what was Professor Bruttenholm’s connection to the Osiris Club? Could it be that he was a member? In 1943, Bruttenholm rode as a guest with in the Wild Hunt, a group known to be affiliated with the Osiris Club. Other than that, we know very little about this connection.

    The second curious thing about Hellboy’s encounter with the Osiris Club in 1954 was that the members he spoke to were the original seven members. You know, the ones that saw Larzod at a séance eighty-eight years earlier. None of them appeared to have aged a day.

    Continued below

    This isn’t exactly unique to the Osiris Club. The two remaining members of the Heliopic Brotherhood of Ra’s expedition into the Hollow Earth in Frankenstein Underground also seemed to be frozen in time (although one of them was possessed by an Ogdru Hem spirit, which could have been responsible for this). And while the other Oannes Society members aged, Langdon Everett Caul remained youthful into his sixties.

    While you ponder that mystery, let’s continue to look at the Osiris Club. In the first decade of the Twenty-first Century, they sent Hellboy a letter. The had kept tabs on him since he left the B.P.R.D., but now they needed him in England to hunt giants. By this point, the original seven seemed rather certain of their theory that Hellboy was the king Larzod had spoken of. The other members of the Osiris Club knew that Hellboy had king’s blood, but unlike the original seven, they weren’t too happy about it, and they tried to kill Hellboy.

    The Osiris Club continued to watch Hellboy as he wrestled with his inner demons, until, at last, he claimed the sword Excalibur and became the rightful King of England. The Osiris Club members were extremely alarmed at this turn of events… except for the original seven. As far as they were concerned, Hellboy was the king foretold by Larzod. The end of days had come. So, while the other Osiris Club members were trying to call the Prime Minister and deal with the “crisis”, the original seven pulled out guns and calmly murdered them. There had been seven Osiris Club members in the beginning; there should be seven at the end.

    The seven planned to be there when Hellboy fought his final battle. They were going to cut off his right hand and use it to claim dominion over the new world. Or at least, that was the plan. The thing is, not everything Larzod said happened the way they expected. Yes, Hellboy was the rightful king, he denied his crown, and he died on the field of battle… but he didn’t lead his army into battle, he gave up his sword, and the battle he died in was not the final battle after all.

    So the Osiris Club decided they had been mistaken.

    But were they? There’s still a crown waiting for Hellboy in Pandemonium, one that he has since denied. And there’s an army waiting for him, an army that Hellboy is meant to lead into the last battle. But the Osiris Club doesn’t know this.

    THE BROTHERHOOD IN THE TWENTIETH CENTURY AND BEYOND

    By the end of the Nineteenth Century, things were going pretty badly for the Heliopic Brotherhood of Ra. After seeing various temples and churches shut down, the years of decline had begun. The Brotherhood was forced into the shadows, and gradually vanished from public consciousness.

    But they weren’t gone. In New York, 1902, Dr. Carp, a Grand Master in the Heliopic Brotherhood of Ra, performed an experiment. He managed to summon a demon—Hellboy from 1991—and take a sample of his blood.

    Carp injected Hellboy’s blood into a chimpanzee, which transformed the creature into a demonic version of itself. The creature went on a rampage, fatally wounding Dr. Carp and his associates before being shot to death. Upon the creature’s death, Hellboy was mysteriously returned to 1991.

    If you haven’t realised it by now, this event really hits the point home. The Heliopic Brotherhood of Ra was dangerously reckless. They were doing things that would get themselves and others killed. The San Francisco earthquake of 1906 and the Tunguska forest explosion of 1908 were rumoured to have been connected to Brotherhood activities. Whether there is any truth to these rumours remains to be seen, but it does seem likely.

    Sir Edward was certainly convinced the Tunguska incident needed looking into. He left London and spent the next six years travelling all over Europe, investigating the Brotherhood. In 1914, Sir Edward arrived in New York. For the next two years he hunted the remaining fragments of the Brotherhood.

    Continued below

    A medal worn by members of the Knights of the Silver Star.
    In Chicago, 1916, Sir Edward tracked down the Knights of the Silver Star, a branch of the Heliopic Brotherhood of Ra. Using their machines, they had summoned the demon Amdusias, one of the greater dukes of Hell. They thought they would be able to control him. If Sir Edward hadn’t been there, things could have gone very badly. He destroyed the Brotherhood’s machines, and Amdusias was sucked back into Hell. This victory came at a dreadful cost though. Sir Edward was dragged down into Hell with Amdusias, then cursed with immortality, torn to pieces, and scattered along the banks of the river Acheron.

    As for the Knights of the Silver Star, they continued to operate throughout the rest of the century.

    In the early Twenty-first Century, they attracted the attention of a kid called Scottie. He’d been dared to go into a creepy building, and in the process he stumbled onto the chamber where Amdusias had been summoned a hundred years ago. Scottie immediately freaked out and called in the B.P.R.D. who sent agents Lehane, Grafton, and Howards to investigate.

    Grafton immediately recognised the signs of the Heliopic Brotherhood of Ra. She knew quite a bit about the Brotherhood and suspected they had something to do with the Jack the Ripper murders. While she and Lehane investigated the machinery in the main chamber, Howards wandered off by himself and found a bunch of interesting relics in a display cabinet. One item in particular jumped out at him…

    Upon touching the sword, Howards fell into unconsciousness. Grafton and Lehane tried to get him out of there (being very careful not to touch the sword), but they were interrupted by the arrival of an old man.

    Everyone started shooting, and Howards was the only survivor. But that’s another story.

    The point is, unless that old guy was the last living member, then the Heliopic Brotherhood of Ra is definitely still active. They may be operating on the fringes for now, but don’t expect them to stay there forever…

    HOMEWORK

    So this is new. I’ve never given you homework before, but this month Abe Sapien: Icthyo Sapien comes out, and it takes a closer look at the secret societies active in Langdon Caul’s time. You’ll get to meet some familiar characters, including Captain Elihu Cavendish. You may remember him from Hellboy: Seed of Destruction. He knew an awful lot about Hyperborea… but where did he learn this information? Was he a member of the Heliopic Brotherhood of Ra? Or the Oannes Society? Or a splinter group? Or did he learn about the Hyperboreans some other way?

    Abe Sapien #27: Icthyo Sapien comes out October 14. Take a read and see if you can figure it out which secret society Captain Cavendish was affiliated with.

    And that’s it for another Hell Notes.

    FOOTNOTES

    1Hyperboreans: See Hell Notes: The Races of Man.

    2Vril: See Hell Notes: What the Hell is Vril?.

    3What Dr. Lubitsch stirred up: Take a close look at this sequence in Frankenstein Underground. There’s some very interesting details with links to Abe Sapien: The Drowning and Hellboy: The Island.

    4The Saunders Expedition: See Witchfinder: In the Service of Angels.

    5Agent Ted Howards / Gall Dennar: If you don’t these guys, there’s a few arcs of B.P.R.D. Hell on Earth you should reread: The Abyss of Time, Wasteland, and Flesh and Stone.

    6Martin Gilfryd: The man who would become Memnan Saa, and former student of the necromancer Gustav Strobl. He played an important role in the B.P.R.D. Plague of Frogs story cycle.

    7Panya’s escape from the Heliopic Brotherhood of Ra: In Hellboy: The Companion the date of this escape is said to have occurred in 1891. This is incorrect. Panya’s escape could have been no later than 1880 since Lord Adam Glaren was still alive at the time.


    //TAGS | Hell Notes | Mignolaversity | Multiversity Rewind

    Mark Tweedale

    Mark writes Hell Notes, The Harrow County Observer, and The Damned Speakeasy. An animator and an eternal Tintin fan, he spends his free time reading comics, listening to film scores, and consuming the finest dark chocolates. You can find him on Twitter here.

    EMAIL | ARTICLES


  • B.P.R.D.: The Universal Machine #5 (Farewell) News
    Mignolaversity: January 2019 Solicitations

    By | Oct 18, 2018 | News

    Usually I’d welcome you to the latest news update, but I’m not doing the news this month. My heart wasn’t really in it. Don’t worry, we’ll still be showing the solicitations for January, but before we get to that, I want to pay tribute to Kees Lagerweij.Those of you that used to be on the […]

    MORE »
    Feature: Joe Golem: The Drowning City #2 Reviews
    Mignolaversity: “Joe Golem: Occult Detective—The Drowning City” #2

    By and | Oct 10, 2018 | Reviews

    Christopher Golden and Peter Bergting tease further mysteries “Joe Golem: Occult Detective—The Drowning City” #2 as we’re shown more of Mr. Church’s past…Written by Mike Mignola and Christopher GoldenIllustrated by Peter BergtingColored by Michelle MadsenLettered by Clem RobinsAs a madman’s plot to pierce the veil between worlds brings the Drowning City ever closer to doom, […]

    MORE »
    Feature: B.P.R.D.: The Devil You Know #9 News
    NYCC ’18: “B.P.R.D.” to End in May 2019

    By | Oct 2, 2018 | News

    “B.P.R.D.,” the long-running Mike Mignola-helmed book, will end in May of next year. It was announced today that Mignola will put the book to bed with issue #15 of “B.P.R.D.: The Devil You Know,” the current volume of the title.Here is what Mignola has to say about the end of the series: “So here we […]

    MORE »

    -->