10th Mar2017

‘Rivers of London: Black Mould #5’ Review

by Dean Fuller

Written by Ben Aaronovitch, Andrew Cartmel | Art by Lee Sullivan | Published by Titan Comics


The final issue of a story arc is always a mixed blessing. On the one hand, you want a resolution, you want to see how it all finishes and if it lives up to what has gone before. On the other hand, it’s always sad to say goodbye to a storyline and characters that you have been enjoying immensely. That’s the case here. For me, this has been the best storyline in the Rivers of London series so far. Dark humour, laugh out loud dialogue, sinister events intertwined with funny interludes, we’ve had it all. The creative team have done superbly, and I’m hoping for a suitably impressive ending.

The first thing that grabbed me this issue was the cover, I thought it was a guest appearance by Papa Lazarou, from The League of Gentlemen. Unfortunately not, but freaky enough. Black Mould has seen a self-aware killer mould killing off wealthy tenants, all leading back to the same very rich property developer. Peter Grant and colleague Sahra Guleed have done most of the legwork and mould-fighting, but last issue saw Peter involve his father and Inspector Nightingale take a more active role. Both proved helpful. Peter’s father filled in a lot of detail on Buddy Rainbird, a vodun (voodoo expert) back in the Fifties who had dealings with that same property company back in the Fifties, who’s building suffered from, you guessed it, really bad mould. Nightingale took Peter to meet a present day vodun expert , Astrid, to try and help.

So that’s why we start this issue with Astrid pointing a gun at Peter’s head. Er, say what now? Turns out it’s a test, and Peter passes, by essentially not wetting himself. Astrid confirms she knew Buddy, but he was a vodun for show only, no real ability as such. Just as Buddy is starting to look like a dead end, Sahra rings to take the investigation a different way, telling them that Lola (who they had previously interviewed) had only been married to Buddy for a few months before he took up with her friend Sherry, who was married to him for nearly 20 years.

Peter calls on an old friend who takes him to her house in the Hertfordshire countryside. Sherry confirms Buddy died from his lungs giving out, due to the mould from those old properties, and Peter quickly realises that Sherry is behind it all, in revenge for Buddy’s death. Although Sherry was behind it all, Buddy still has a role to play. The mould, strengthened by Peter’s use of magic on it in the past, has taken on the shape of Buddy. His one last task? to see Matthew Wellcome, the slum lord responsible for his death, fall from his penthouse window to a probably deserved death. And that’s that. With Wellcome dead, the mould has gone, Buddy has gone, and Sherry is no longer a threat. Case solved.

As a whole a great storyline, but felt this issue fell a little in terms of both enjoyment and quality. A lot has happened, and been built up, for such a swift and low-key resolution. It was good, but could have been great. Humour and snappy dialogue was also scarcer than normal, sadly. However, when the villain of the book is a sentient black mould, I can’t get too disappointed now, can I?

Lee Sullivan did his usual bang up job on the art, and it was revealing how thin the script was by how many pages had larger panels, some without dialogue. Partly due to pacing perhaps, but more than normal. Technically, though, Sullivan can’t be faulted, he’s the perfect artist for the book, body language of characters especially being so key to making this book work.

Overall, strongest and funniest arc yet. Magic, in fact.

**** 4/5

Rivers of London: Black Mould #5 is out now from Titan Comics.


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