The Legend of Luther Arkwright
Bryan Talbot (@bryan_talbot)
Reviewed by Matt Adcock (@cleric20)
"The die is cast. The Grand Illusion has already begun. We are observers but we are also part of it..."
If you by some chance haven't had the joy of reading The Adventures of Luther Arkwright, stop reading this, get yourself a copy and read it!! Come back afterwards if you want to know if this incredible sequel lives up to following what is considered by many not only to be the first British graphic novel but also one of the very best.
Still here/back? Excellent - I had the immense pleasure of meeting the acclaimed graphic novelist, Bryan Talbot, himself at a preview event for The Legend of Luther Arkwright at the Cartoon Museum in London and I can confirm that he's every bit the legend you'd imagine him to be from reading his work. I had the chance to grab a preview copy of the new Arkwright tome and here are my thoughts on it...
The good news is that not only is Luther back, but he's still a reluctant soldier fighting across a multiverse of parallel Earths and trying to right wrongs whilst facing impossible odds. Legend jumps straight in with a heavyweight threat, Proteus, a being superior to Luther who initially wants to recruit him to their cause. Alas, this cause is to wipe the existence of petty human life and establish a utopia for those like Luther who have powers - so Luther decides to fight!!
This new 240-page tome works as a stand-alone story but still maintains the much-loved lore and continuity with the Arkwright mythos. There are some fun returns of other characters too, which is just as well as the battle Luther faces here seems so hard to beat, he's going to need all the help he can get.
Chapters break with quotes from Shakespeare and George Orwell, Darwin and H.G. Wells, and the black and white artwork leaps from the pages and jumps straight into your soul. 'Legend' is a staggering achievement by a guy who's been doing this since the 1970s and he's lost none of the mind-altering verve, systemic shock-value or adrenaline-pumping action which are the hallmarks of Arkwright. It's quite something coming some 40+ years after his original story first saw publication.
Luther is a comic book icon, a hero of the underclass who holds no love for fascists. Where previously the backdrop of the rise of the British extreme right influenced Talbot's earlier works (he was doing voluntary illustrative work for his local Anti-Nazi League Group). Now, it feels incredibly timely that as the extreme right seems to be on the rise again, Luther's return is a pertinent one.
The Legend of Luther Arkwright will, as Talbot's early works be an inspiration to all free-thinking comic creators - I hope that the next Alan Moore, Warren Ellis, Grant Morrison or indeed Bryan Talbot reads this and sees just what can be done with the ageless medium of the graphic novel.
(5 - Welcome back Luther - you are a legend indeed!)
Get your copy of The Legend of Luther Arkwright
And whilst here help support this project: Bryan Talbot: The Father of the British Graphic Novel
Check this vid from the Arkwright preview event:
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