25th Oct2016

‘Rivers of London: Black Mould #1’ Review

by Dean Fuller

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


The Rivers of London books are fast becoming among my favourites currently being published. Well written and drawn, great characters and stories with a nice blend of humour and action, and dipping in and out of different genres as and when required. Bit of police procedural here, bit of magic there, a little dash of noir. Like I said, fun. The last story arc was especially fun because, Russian witches and fake woodland sprites aside, it started to develop the character of Lesley May, previously Peter Grant’s partner but now working with Peter’s enemy The Faceless Man. Peter of course is an office for The Metropolitan Police and, er, a trainee wizard. You knew that right?

This story arc, amusingly titled ‘Black Mould’ (hey, even I can’t fight that), sees Peter’s sidekick of sorts Sahra Guleed take centre stage, as she investigates a friend’s house. Her friend has left her house terrified of something, and Sahra quickly finds the source, a kind of black energy, or mould, that seems alive. She of course goes to Peter for his help, and he promptly takes her shopping for vinegar. The dialogue between the two really shines, they talk to each other not just at each other, something writers frequently get wrong. The banter gives a human touch to the story, makes you like the characters and therefore engages you more in the story. Really nice writing.

While all that’s going on, Peter’s boss Inspector Nightingale is working on mopping up a stray MP3 player from the haunted car case they worked on in the first story arc. All pieces of that car were haunted, and when installed to new cars then haunt those too. After a stirring talk from Nightingale on just how cunning and dangerous their foe is, helper Mr. Debden enters the lock up to find himself confronted by… an ice cream truck. But clearly a very angry one. Impossible to read this sequence without a smile on your face. The focus on giving the characters these chances to shine as personalities, rather than just taking the plot from A to Z, is something some other books could learn from.

Back to Peter and Sahra, who have been unable to find the source of the black mould but, with tongues firmly in cheeks, Aaronovitch and Cartmel have the mould hiding behind the fridge. It has grown stronger, and traps the two in the house, cut off from the vinegar Peter needs. Oh, and it feeds off magic so that’s no use either. Luckily, some old booze suffices and the pair soon escape to their vinegar supplies, and dispatch the mould. Job done. Or not, as it turns out. Turns out another building has a black mould infestation, and the problem with this one is it is about 30 stories high. As Peter comments, ‘oh, s**t’.

I’ve obviously commented a lot about the writing, which really is excellent, but equally as important here is the artwork of Lee Sullivan. Apart from the technical aspect of the art, which is just very well drawn and laid out, Sullivan manages to convey the humour in the dialogue superbly. Some of that great dialogue would just fall flat if the artist couldn’t ‘sell it’, but Sullivan does just that. His characters live and breathe on the page, and bring the dialogue alive. A mention also for the colouring work of Luis Guerrero, which elevates Sullivan’s work even higher. Aaronovitch, Cartmel, Sullivan and Guerrero are one of the more perfect creative teams currently working in comics anywhere for my money, perfectly suited to the material they are creating. Long may it continue.

This was the single best issue of Rivers of London so far. A little more tongue in cheek than usual but sparkling dialogue, fun plot, and plenty to look forward to in the following issue.

Comics are allowed to be fun, right?

****½  4.5/5


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