Top Shelf Productions finds ‘Nemo’s’ literary adventures

The latest ‘League of Extraordinary Gentlemen’ graphic novel rejoices in its literary references.


Among the literary mash-ups of the graphic novel Nemo: Heart of Ice, published by Marietta’s Top Shelf Productions, one of the cleverest involves three former “boy inventors” turned adult mercenaries. At one point, “Swyfte,” the most brash and ruthless of the threesome, brags about one of his weapons: “A day’ll come when there ain’t a law officer in the world who’s not carrying my electric - ”

Casual fans of pop culture will probably recognize a satirical version of Tom Swift, the technically ingenious star of multiple book series beginning in 1910. Heart of Ice author Alan Moore, in the latest installment of his League of Extraordinary Gentlemen series, packs references within references. The book takes place in 1925, but Swyfte’s line anticipates the invention and population of the taser, a real-life anagram for “Thomas A. Swift Electric Rifle.” (It’s true!)

Nemo: Heart of Ice offers a throwback to the high adventure of the initial League of Extraordinary Gentlemen series, written by Moore and illustrated by Kevin O’Neill. First appearing in 1999 and helping to usher in the steampunk and neo-Victorian storytelling trends, the comic book envisioned a Justice League-style super-team drawn from Victorian and Edwardian literature. Gentlemen’s first two volumes launched such familiar figures as Mr. Hyde and Captain Nemo into thrilling escapades, while the subsequent books became less accessible, focusing more on mysticism and increasingly obscure characters.