22nd Nov2018

‘Rivers of London: Action at a Distance #2′ Review

by Dean Fuller

Written by Andrew Cartmel | Art by Brian Williamson | Published by Titan Comics

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I loved the first issue of the new story arc that we saw last time round. Ticked quite a few boxes for me. We got some period adventure, which is always nice. We learnt something new, again, very nice. Some spotlight time on Inspector Nightingale, which is long overdue. And a very good storyline, which of course for Rivers of London is what we expect for a minimum. That storyline, if you need your memory jogged at all, went back to a wartime friendship, a present day funeral, and a serial killer case in the 1950′s. A wartime friend, Angus Strallen, had approached Nightingale to help capture Professor Uwe Fischer. Not only was he a serial killer, he seemed to be using dark magic too.

So, a story about a serial killer of young women, all a bit heavy and dark you may be thinking. Fear not. After a sequence at the beginning we get a few pages of Molly the maid being, er, attentive to Angus, who is currently a house guest of Nightingale (circa 1957 London of course). Cup of tea in bed and extra big breakfast’s for him it seems. Angus’s day gets better when Nightingale gives him some great news. They’ve got Fischer, currently in lock up after a sweep of hotels. That’s the good news. The bad news is, where magic is involved things are rarely simple. By the time Strallen and Nightingale make it to the station Fischer’s gone. No magic needed though, just a shady American and 2 Special Branch officers.

So while Fischer is being protected, and our two heroes are trying to track him down, let’s not forget we have a third hero. Dr Frye. She is still back up North, and is tasked with getting into Fischer’s room to steal something he handles frequently and sending it to London. This she did, and uncovered another creepy development, Fischer’s collage of ‘girls of the world’ on his wall. Creepy it may be, but it gave Nightingale the clue he needed and they again caught up with Fischer, probably saving an Indian girls life in the process. The finding bit worked out well, the capturing bit, again, not so good. Fischer is one slippery customer it seems. So, what do you do when all else fails? Get a dog, and use his great sense of smell to your advantage. The game is afoot, as Nightingale’s Sherlock says to Strallen’s Holmes in a nice little Cartmel nod at the end.

Another good issue, though a quick read for two reasons. One, we only really followed one main plot thread, detailed though that was. We still got plenty of sparkling dialogue, a nice injection of humour, and a nice blend of action and mystery. The second reason was that artist Brain Williamson likes bigness in his art when space allows, so we often get two or three large panels where other artists would use six. This can make both the layouts, and the story, seem deceptively simple. Technically, the art is superb, lovely big panels, clean lines, and very nice camera angles chosen. I love the final full page splash too, also an affectionate homage to Holmes and Watson.

I like Andrew Cartmel’s writing a lot, so if I say Williamson’s art is the best thing about this issue then you know it’s a mighty good one. The Holmes / Watson riff is also cleverly done, I liked that little in-joke a lot. Again, a solidly written and drawn slice of fun with a side order of action, drama, and of course, magic.

**** 4/5

Rivers of London: Action at a Distance #2 is out now from Titan Comics.

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