Written by Ben Aaronovitch, Andrew Cartmel | Art by Lee Sullivan | Published by Titan Comics | Format: Paperback, 32pp
You can approach this issue, and this series, in two ways. One, like me, as a novice to the world of Peter Grant, already the star of a series of novels by Ben Aaronovitch. Or as someone already well versed in that world through the novels who wants an extra hit of Rivers of London. It is to the writers credit that the story can be followed by either demographic, and neither will be disappointed.
Rivers of London, for those not in the know, follows the adventures of Peter Grant, a policeman who works for the Metropolitan Police. What spices up this police procedural is that Peter Grant works for the secretive Met Police branch that tackles ‘magic and the supernatural’. That really is all you need to know to dive straight in, as his world is fully fleshed out expertly in this first issue. No doubt nods were in there to hardcore fans who understood certain references from the novels but they are nothing more than cherries on top.
This particular tale starts very dramatically as we witness a man drowning. A magical associate of Peter Grant, Beverley Brook, lets him know that magic was involved and he sets out to investigate, alongside two uneasy conventional police detectives. The story then follows what is both a very familiar conventional path, that of a step by step police procedural investigation (hunt down clues, question potential suspects etc), and a very unique one, that of magical crime investigation. The two strands fit together perfectly. It is only by the latter part of the story, involving a ‘possessed’ car and Peter Grant’s own use of magical abilities that we stray fully into magical territory.
The writing is very strong for a first issue, and as a reader you slip into this familiar feeling world quite easily. It feels easy to read, obviously a deliberate aspect as I assume a few fans of the books may have picked up their first ever comic to give it a try. I hope they stick around for the duration.
The art by Lee Sullivan has no small role to play in creating that familiar London, on the surface at least, that we know. Reading the text is very easy, as the layouts are clear and enhance the script no end. No over complication, just very nice line work throughout. If I wanted to be picky I could argue it lacked a little personality, a little individual ‘soul’ or style, again to possibly not scare off any comic newbie’s perhaps, but it’s a small price to pay for a solid job.
All in all, a very strong start to a series that looks like it has plenty left in the tank. The source material is strong, the creative team are strong and it is a world we feel as though we want to explore. The addition at the end of a 2-3 extra pages, with a one page short story, and a text history piece from Peter Grant on Putney Bridge just add to the appeal. Good value for money, and good on the eye. Can’t ask for more than that.
Rivers of London #1 is out now from Titan Comics.