A battle to keep supernatural forces from wreaking havoc across Victorian London is beginning to build. Only the Duke and a select few allies stand in the way of the monstrous, horrific carnage being wrought by the evil forces that are emerging from the darkness.

The Duke – a member of a secret society known as the Vittori – meets with an informant in a pub, having heard that dark things are afoot at the wharfs. When the Duke and his informant – the foul-mouthed, rough and ready Irishman Jellico – arrive at the wharfs, they manage to rescue a Detective from a horrific fate; they are, however, too late to save the policeman’s colleagues. With Bailey, his eyes now open to the supernatural threat to London, on their side the pair set about stopping the increasing number of demonic creatures that are carrying out their vile, murderous actions in the city.

Right from the start, London Gothic – by writer Nick Henry and artist Michael D. Burton – pulls no punches. Its narrative flashes back and forward; though taking place primarily in the Victorian era, the opening sequence is within a much more biblical milieu.

The story felt a little unclear at times; not only could the script have used a bit more exposition – or at least some form of voiceover-style captions at the very least – but even the action sequences were a little difficult to parse due to the dark nature of the art and the sometimes overbearing use of digital effects.

There’s a lot of threads to the story and plenty happening, but it doesn’t always feel coherent and, at least until the end of this first issue, didn’t feel like many of the threads were coming together.

The constant swearing and very graphic violence became a bit numbing by the end too; it’s laid on so thickly that it becomes almost comical to an extent. That said, there are some truly shocking moments of violence; they would have likely become even more so if the graphic gore and dismemberments had been used a little more liberally until that point.

Those issues aside, there’s a lot to like about London Gothic. It’s an intriguing introduction that uses its setting to great effect; Victorian London feels ominously, tangibly dark and grim – there’s a great sense of frustration, fear, angst and overwhelming darkness through the environment and its characters.

In my opinion, Henry’s script would be a lot more effective with more sparing use of profanity and gore, but even without that restraint I felt that London Gothic was a compelling, sometimes disturbing and horrific read.

There’s at least one scene that’ll stay seared in my mind due to its sheer horror; there’s not much higher praise I can give than that when you consider the fact that this is a comic which definitely – and unapologetically – sets out to shock and scare.

Many thanks to Nick Henry for providing me with a digital copy of London Gothic Chapter 1 for review purposes. You can purchase London Gothic from the LG website at this link.

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