Written by Ben Aaronovitch, Andrew Cartmel | Art by Lee Sullivan | Colour by Luis Guerrero | Published by Titan Comics
Last issue, the first of this new ‘Black Mould’ storyline was an absolute cracker. None of the story arcs have disappointed of course, but this really had the feel of a creative team hitting its stride, with a perfect grasp on both character and story. I love the way they can make magic seem so mundane, just another skill certain people have. Like juggling. OK, more impressive than juggling, but you often forget Peter is a trainee wizard. The focus on Peter’s colleague and kind of sidekick Sahra Guleed last issue was very welcome, as she has as nice a line in sarcasm and black humour as Peter does. Thinking about it, so does their boss Inspector Nightingale. Must be the job.
The Black Mould of the title refers to a strange form of black energy or substance, which had appeared in the house of a friend of Sahra. After something of a struggle, the ‘mould’ feeds off magical energy don’t you know, they managed to defeat and banish it with, of all things, vinegar. Job done? Unfortunately not. Although that suburban two up two down is cleared, it turns out the local thirty story high rise has become infected. Issue 2 starts with Peter and Sahra wheedling their way in for an inspection, which they do, but find nothing. Further investigation reveals that in the past all the apartments had had problems with the mould, bar one. The only difference with that apartment was that its occupant was there under social housing.
‘Class war evil supernatural black fungus. I love it’ dryly notes Sahra.
The flat in question, number 105, is being lived in by Cecily and Keith, two students who shouldn’t actually be there. They do know about the mould though, and tell how other occupants warned them not to move in. The mould had been making people think and do strange things, causing fears and phobias to exaggerate or appear. Why would anyone want to move in somewhere like that? Well, it’s a rent controlled flat in London, they could put up with supernatural black mould apparently. Heh.
Peter tracks down the aunt of the Cissie, now in a home after a fall, and finds out she had been married to Buddy Rainbird, a jazz musician, many years ago. The only connection to the black mould seems to be they had to live in a variety of very bad flats, all with terrible mould. Another lead is two further addresses to check out, which Peter and Sahra taking on one each. Unfortunately for Peter his house is both infected, and has trouble in the form of the more human kind. Peter looks like being on the end of that most English of assaults, assault by cricket bat.
This issue didn’t miss a beat from last time round. The dialogue and interplay throughout is hysterically funny, with a handful of great one liners and many, many little snipey asides. Peter and Sahra are such well formed characters they feel like old friends with their constant bickering. Aaronovitch and Cartmel manage the difficult task of injecting a very sizeable dose of humour into proceedings while still taking us through a story with a few eerie elements to it. I like the fact as well that although Peter and Sahra get great lines, so do all the supporting characters. Never treated as just background fodder, every character is given personality and great dialogue. Fantastically good writing.
The art by Lee Sullivan is as great as ever, and is integral to my earlier point about everyone having a personality. He gives everyone a look, to distinguish them from everyone else, no generic lip service here. The great characterisations in the writing only work with help from the artist. He uses pretty standard grids for his layouts, which can be a little boring elsewhere but here allow the story to unfold at a steady pace, and allows all the dialogue, of which there is a lot, stand out.
Great issue, great creative team, and a real gem of a series.
Rivers of London: Black Mould #2 is out now from Titan Comics.