The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen - Alan Moore
Alan Moore's retro-futuristic adventure sees various public domain characters forming a Victorian superhero team and saving London from shadowy, steampunk dangers. It predominantly seems interested in name-checking as many different fictional people as possible, with a considerable sideline in flirting with and mildly subverting the era's various stereotypes.
In many ways, I wonder if the impact of this comic is really lost on someone reading it for the first time now. Maybe when it was first released, the idea of Professor Moriarty bombarding the East End from the air may have seemed really novel. But now we've seen plenty of works using just this kind of over-the-top cocktail, and we need them to be underpinned with something stronger - first rate storytelling, for example, or just a bold sense of fun.
I don't want it to seem as if I disliked this book. I didn't. It's got a great modern take on classic figures of literature and nicely styled artwork. But I think what surprised me is that this story is more about cramming in references to existing works 'with a twist' than about forging a path of its own.