29th Sep2015

‘Rivers of London #3’ Review (Titan Comics)

by Dean Fuller

Written by Ben Aaronovitch, Andrew Cartmel | Art by Lee Sullivan | Published by Titan Comics | Format: Paperback, 32pp


For those not in the know, Rivers of London are a series of books by Ben Aaronovitch following the adventures of Peter Grant, assigned to the secret department of the Metropolitan Police in London who deal with supernatural and magical crime. Sort of Law & Order mixed with Buffy and Angel. This mini-series benefits from the fact it is co-authored by creator Aaronovitch, and is not just meant to be a minor distraction from the novels; it is in continuity, and takes place between books 4 and 5 in the series. Although new to this world, I very much like the concept and thinking behind it.

‘Body Work’ has a pretty simple case for Peter Grant to crack, though the point of this series is as much to introduce the characters and environments as it is to give the reader a single set story. To sum up simply, a killer car has been on the rampage around London, seemingly possessed as it is driving itself. The writers seem to be having fun, writing a more humorous  take on Stephen King’s Christine, which even the cover owes a, probably intentional, debt to.

There are one or two plot strands sitting in the background I assume for other days, but the focus this issue is very much on the haunted BMW. Inspector Nightingale and Peter Grant duly investigate, borrowing the ‘most haunted car in England’ to help with their investigation, a 1920’s Bentley. The fun thing with the Bentley is that while driving it, everything looks as though you are actually in the 1920’s; when you get out, you are back in the modern day.

It is all intentionally done tongue in cheek, though the humour never fully overshadows the drama, just mixes together very well. If I was to choose a single word to sum up this issue it’s ‘fun’. The dialogue is snappy, the premise fun, and the drama lighthearted though effective. The only thing I missed from earlier issues is the actual use of real London locales and landmarks, usually a strength of Aaronovitch. The use of real locations in London grounds the fantastical elements, makes us believe these things could really be happening just below the surface. London seemed very much a character in its own right in Issue 1, but in this issue we could be anywhere, with the brief exception of an appearance by Charing Cross Hospital.

I don’t dislike the art by Lee Sullivan, it is perfectly nice to look at and does a pretty good job of pacing out the script. I just find it a little static sometimes, individual panels nice to look at but lacking synergy with the panel before and after. The books colours also could do with being dialed back a little, these streets and places need to be a little darker in tone, more shadowy, not the bright colours found on most pages.

Overall, the balance of the series is just right, fine for a complete novice to pick up and enjoy, like me, or enough nods and winks to continuity for long time fans to feel as though they are getting that little bit just for them. I am very much enjoying the characters and story, and tempted to take a look at the source material novels as well. A big thumbs up as well for the extras every issue, giving greater depth to both the specific story itself and the wider Rivers of London universe.

Good, fun series and good value for money. Can’t beat that.

**** 4/5

Rivers of London #3 is out now from Titan Comics.


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