Written by Ben Aaronovitch, Andrew Cartmel | Art by Lee Sullivan | Published by Titan Comics
Rather like the first ‘Rivers’ limited series, Rivers of London: Night Witch has been a solid read. Sometimes perhaps promising a little more than it ultimately delivered, but usually maintaining a good balance between telling the main story and interweaving those plot threads that will pay off down the line. I also like the fact that the series is as readable to someone who hasn’t read the books as it is to longtime fans. This being the final issue of this arc, and also titled ‘Sacrifice’, I expecting the series to go out with a bang, but the creators proved to be more subtle than that, and the story ultimately more satisfying.
My very speedy recap (hey, read the previous reviews!), tells you that Thomas Nightingale, PC Peter Grant’s boss, has been kidnapped by a Russian businessman to force Grant to help him find his daughter, seemingly kidnapped by a Russian forest demon or spirit. Grant had tried to pay a ransom, but it all went disastrously wrong and now there’s no money, no Nightingale and the daughter is still missing. Oops. Also Peter’s embittered ex-partner Lesley May is still lurking in the shadows, which you just know is going to bite him somewhere soon.
I always find final issues a mixed bag, sometimes foot to the floor fun and breathless action to tie everything up, but also sometimes collapsing under the weight of the endless exposition needed to tie everything up after some poor earlier pacing. Here we do get a lot of talking, but it is necessary to fill in a few gaps still left in the back story and to make sense of some characters motivations. The dialogue is well written, and never feels over done. It was also nice to see Peter make the initial breakthrough in the case through detective work, not magic. Magic is a nice ‘get out of jail free’ card story wise, as there is very little restriction on what it can do, but the writers hear had the mystery resolved through good old fashioned detective work.
Lee Sullivan’s art continues to be excellent. He has really grown into the characters, now he has all those issues under his belt, and has faces and posture down to a tee. I know that when I get round to reading the novels, which I will, they will look exactly as drawn by Lee Sullivan. The art is always nice and clean, large standard panels that help the story flow, and always great composition. The colourist Luis Guerrero also needs a mention, bright and muted colours distinguishing flashbacks from the present, among other things. Nice work.
One aspect of the these ‘Rivers’ limited series (a third one is on the way very soon) is that they never really resolve, and ‘Night Witch’ follows that path. Although each storyline has a very definite beginning and end, these very much just feel like chapters in a far larger story. For me, personally, this is a good thing, and something that works well in these days of episodic Netflix-esque tastes. Things aren’t always tied up neatly, just as in real life. And it keeps us coming back, which is probably the point.
That said, the writing is good enough that if you only ever pick up that one series that catches your eye you will not need to read any of the others to enjoy it.
But you should, they are most definitely worth it.