Along the tortuous route of human progress, there have been specially-gifted spirits who have banded together with singular purpose. Though often public figures and the groups as such often celebrated, the true work of these luminaries was rarely made public. They were often fronted as “literary circles” or “artistic movements” and their members forced to produce “works” that would justify otherwise idle lifestyles. Idle, that is, in appearance only. Behind the scenes, these gifted individuals were doing much more than scribbling silly stories or pictures or navel-gazing the meaning of life. They were fighting crime and/or defending the planet. The shroud of well-meaning deceit will now be lifted, for the world must know of the sacrifices of these brave heroes.
Episode One: The Bloomsbury Group aka The Bloom Squad: Secret Weapon of the Crown
Origins & History:
The Bloom Squad was active in the first third of the 20th century, primarily in the Bloomsbury area of London, England. Philosophically undergirded by the work of G.E. Moore, they were almost direct descendants of the earlier Clapham Set (Clapham Saints) who fronted religious and moral social work, while in fact doing bruising work that scrubbed the slave-trading filth from London, a la Marvel’s Daredevil, but in high collars and long dresses. The Bloom Squad kept an even lower profile, but had a reputation for swift, effective action. Though much of the day-to-day work of these heroes was in the poorer areas of London, keeping the streets safe, King George came calling during the First World War. Unprepared for a new technology, England had no initial defence against Imperial German dirigible bombers. The Bloom Squad met these bilious foes over the Channel, in their highly customized ultralights.
As members of the group grew older, and other heroes came along to take their place, they one-by-one resigned themselves to lives of deep involvement in art, literature, economics, and various other cultural pursuits. Years later, Strachey recalled seeing Woolf silhouetted in her ultralight, moments before a balloon attack, and said, “That was our moment. We had a job to do, we did it, and we didn’t care if the public knew of our service. It was enough that we were in cool ultralights, dropping Germans in the Channel for England.”
Virginia Woolf aka MindHowl – The undisputed leader of The Bloom Squad. Woolf – known publicly for her first-rate, stream-of-consciousness novels and essential contributions to feminism – guided the team thru the majority of their missions.
Superpower: Mind-reading, useful for interaction with supervillains and innocent standers-by, but also may have contributed to the particular intimacy of her prose style.
Lytton Strachey aka The Whisperer – Publicly known for his biographies of Victorian figures in Eminent Victorians, with which he upturned the myth of high Victorian moral virtue (ie – they were no better or worse than anyone else, despite advertisement to the contrary).
Superpower: Invisibility, indispensable in the fighting of crime. It also may have come in handy in researching his signature literary work.
John Maynard Keynes aka Futuro – Yes, the economist. Few economic thinkers have been as influential as Keynes was in the 20th century. That’s pretty good cover for a superhero. His individual-centered, humanitarian theories aimed to “save capitalism from itself”.
Superpower: Partial clairvoyance. Keynes could project outcomes with a very high-rate of probability. Keynes was also the best ultralight pilot on the team.
EM Forster aka The Reacher – Novels wrestling with human connection across class lines (and other social barriers) such as A Room With a View, Howard’s End and A Passage to India are so good, they are slam-dunk good movies. The posthumously published Maurice explored the same in the context of homosexual relationships.
Superpower: Stretchiness. His literary themes on the importance of people “connecting” must have been quite the inside joke amongst team members, as ol’ Eddie Morgan could literally give you a reassuring side-hug from across team headquarters.
NEXT UP: The Literary Brat Pack aka The Superhero Club: To the Max!