Written by Ben Aaronovitch, Andrew Cartmel | Art by Lee Sullivan | Published by Titan Comics
Some people don’t like too much humour in their reading, be it science fiction, horror, etc. They seem to think it dilutes the effectiveness of the genre. I tend to think the opposite. Very few things in life, entertainment included, aren’t improved with a dash of humour. You need to judge that dash just right of course, too much can ruin everything quite easily, but when you do magic appears. Rivers of London is a perfect example of not only a meshing of genres (part police procedural, part action film, part supernatural drama), but of the perfect use of humour to enhance it’s already good narrative. This particular story arc, Black Mould, has been the best so far at using all these elements together, in a rather wonderful way.
The black mould of the title is of course a ‘class war evil supernatural fungus’, or something like that. Peter Grant and colleague/ Muslim ninja Sahra Guleed have been destroying it wherever it has been cropping up, including the home of Peter’s girlfriend Bev. The good news was that Peter managed to clear it out of Bev’s house. The bad news? It hitched a ride on his hazard suit, then inhabited it and can now walk around in humanoid form. Oh, and picked up some big shiny knives as well. Not great.
Issue 4 starts right there, with the Mould attempting to kill a sleeping Peter. Luckily for him, maid Molly is there with two knives of her own and manages to hold the Mould off until Inspector Nightingale joins the fray. Peter leaps into action after securing two propane torches, and incinerates the Mould. Invasive as it is, a small piece has escaped under the sofa, and just as you think it will live to fight another day there is a nice little homage to the film The Thing as it is finally disposed of. Meanwhile Sahra, Peter’s partner, has been following up with the shady property company, only to find herself up against something of a racist brick wall in the shape of a purple slippers wearing old man. He’ll turn up again, as it turns out.
Peter, meanwhile, decides you can go home again (you just have to bypass the traffic at Camden Town) and goes to see his father. Turns out his dad not only remembers the black mould infested buildings of Wellcome Matt back in the 1950′s, he also knew Buddy Rainbird, the singer we learnt about a couple of issues back. Wouldn’t you know it, Buddy was a bit of a voodoo man, or ‘vodun’ as it should be called. Inspector Nightingale and Peter decide to pay a call on an associate, and vodun expert, to check into this development but things don’t quite work out as planned.
Another good issue, plenty of great dialogue, character spotlight, and story development. Plenty of fun too. Although the great ‘odd couple’ pairing of Peter and Sahra were split up this time round, we got to see Inspector Nightingale get a bit more screen time, which is never a bad thing. I love as well the gradual widening of the background cast, with Peter’s dad appearing and Asterid Bivalacquia, the vodun expert, all slotting in so smoothly as though they have always been there. Lee Sullivan’s art was as slick and clean as always, and he especially enjoys himself on the near text free first five pages of the book. I always enjoy his ‘quick cut’ style panels too, several quick panels on a page almost giving the illusion of actual movement. Great stuff.
A great book is only great if it can maintain a high quality over many issues, and Rivers of London has managed that effortlessly. Pure, undiluted comic book fun.