The discovery of “The Adventures of Luther Arkwright” by British comic book artist and writer Bryan Talbot when I was 12 was an amazing moment for me. I was in Birmingham for a couple of days. The city was completely unfamiliar to me and somewhat intimidating in the way that unfamiliar places can be. My dad gave me a couple of hours to explore some shops and I stumbled across a comic book store in the now-gone Bullring. Comic book stores like book stores and games stores have always been places of refuge for me, and so I instantly felt more relaxed.
I had a bit of pocket money I had saved up and I was determined to spend it.
Flicking through the comic books I came across the first two books in The Adventures of Luther Arkwright. Right away the cover grabbed me, it spoke of science fiction, what would now be called steampunk, and adventure. Even the name of the main character had a certain ring to it. I quickly bought them, full of excitement.
Reading the comics was an experience that I have had from one or two other sources. The story, in brief, is about Luther Arkwright, a truly unique individual who can cross between parallel dimensions of Earth. He crosses them all fighting to save the universe from destruction by the nihilistic Disruptors. It features a Nazi-esque Puritan regime in England, a neo-Victorian England ruled by Victoria III as well as a high tech society at the centre of the parallels. The story features sex, drugs, brutal warfare, genuine emotion and epic adventure. It had it all and I was smitten.
Of course, for the first 20 or so pages I had absolutely no idea what was going on, and that is because this book demands you think for yourself. One more reason to love it.
The dark parallel of a Puritan England where the New Model Army and Parliamentarians were never replaced by Charles II, in particular, was a stunning ‘what if?’. The comic reflected a English soul that resonated with me in a way that very few things have done, and Luther Arkwright remains one of my heroes with Bryan Talbot also attaining heroic status for the creation of such an amazing world.
It is an amazing book, and even better all three books have been collected into one edition that has been reprinted by Dark Horse Comics. You can find it here:
Bryan Talbot has gone on to create and work on many other wonderful comics, but Luther Arkwright holds a place in my heart that is inviolate. You should all read this comic!