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The Official Bryan Talbot fanpage / Articles

The Adventures of Luther Arkwright:
A review

This review was first published at, and is republished here with their permission.

Okay, I have to make a confession here. The Adventures of Luther Arkwright is one of the main reasons that I read comics. I never read comics as a kid. But when I was in college I hooked up with Tony Hicks and we began to pursue some mutual dreams. I would write and he would draw--comics. This was the mid eighties. New and exciting things were happening, but I still wasn't convinced that comics had a place for the kind of story telling that interested me. Then a friend gave us a copy of the first British compilation of the first three books of Bryan's 9 issue series.

Suddenly I understood the potential of the art form. The amazing, intricate black and white art blew the pants off of most of what was being done in color. And still does.

But you want to hear about the book. The story and artwork are complex. I re-read it about once a year and get more out of it each time. The basic idea is that there are many parallel universes with parallel Earths. There are forces at work that would destabilize these realities. There is one parallel that is aware of all the others and tracks the events that show the presence of the destabilizing forces. There are also "agents" who can communicate with their parallel selves, telepathically.

And there is Luther Arkwright. Unlike the others, who have parallel selves Luther is singular. He is the only one who can travel between parallels and use his extensive psychic abilities. Luther's wide perspective makes him interesting, but not always likable. Fortunately he is surrounded by characters like Rose Wylde an agent who's affair/relationship with Luther spans all parallels; Harry Fairfax, a most lovable rouge; Hiriam Kowolsky, a corespondent from the New Amsterdam Herald who sheds a different perspective on events; Octobriana, the no holds barred warrior who helps Luther find the Fire Frost Opal of Seth and saves his life when they are attacked by Disrupter forces; the pathetically evil Nathaniel Cromwell, leader of the Puritan British Government, to name a few.

Most of the action centers on a world where the English civil war is happening in what (technologically speaking), seems to be, the 1930's of the world we know.

This book is well researched and still highly imaginative but not for the faint of heart. All manner of human evil and human good get their turn on the page. If you like complicated science-fiction epics, intense woodcut like art, original takes on history rearranged, then this is the comic that you have been waiting to read.

Many thanks to for letting me re-use this, and also specifically to Tasha Lowe, the author.


The design and content of this page and this entire website is copyright 1999, 2006 by James Robertson: all images are copyright 1999, 2006 by Bryan Talbot