01st Feb2019

‘Rivers of London: Action at a Distance #4’ Review

by Dean Fuller

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


Before jumping into the main part of these scribblings, after all you are here to read a review of the story are you not, I want to give a shout out to what a great cover this issue has. I mentioned with last issue’s review that I thought this story had a touch of the old pulps about it, and this issue has a rather fabulous cover that also references that. It’s in the style of the old EC comics of the 1950’s, and is a pitch perfect imitation. Not that I need a reason to love this book more, but this certainly doesn’t hurt. By now most of you will know what is going on, but for those that came in late, Nightingale and friend Angus Strallen have been pitting wits against a magic using serial killer called Professor Uwe Fischer. This took place in the late 1950’s, and Peter Grant is reading about it in a case file, learning about it as we, the reader, do.

So, Fischer knows he’s been rumbled by Nightingale and Strallen, and has bolted from London back to Cumbria. Ordinarily he’d still be reasonably easy to locate, but of course Fischer just happens to have very powerful friends. In this case, a CIA agent looking to poach him for the U.S away from his work at Windscale atomic energy plant. Nightingale investigates Fischer’s apartment, and among the various comic books finds detailed plans of an atomic pile. Could the serial killer also have ambitions to be a mass murderer? As Peter learns in the present, Fischer was invaluable to the U.K’s nuclear programme at Windscale, as he could move things without having to touch them, avoiding radiation poisoning. A blind eye was turned to his, er, moral shortcomings.

Turnabout is fair play of course, so as Fischer leaves with his new CIA friend, he leaves behind a present. An atomic pile fire, which creates what is, and will remain, the worst accident in British nuclear hsistory. Most people just leave a snotty letter to their colleagues of course, so it’s fair to say Fischer is the baddest of bad pennies. Just the way the CIA like them of course. Of course, what Fischer can do, Nightingale can also do as well, and he duly helps end the atomic ‘accident’ from getting any worse than it is. Three cheers for good magic. Nightingale and Strallen find the rather smug CIA agent, with Fischer, at RAF Alconbury, where Fischer is departing in a plane to Spain. Oh well, too late. The End.

Not fooled? Of course not. Remember the whole bit about Fischer and Nightingale being able to manipulate things without needing to touch them? Seems Fischer’s engine developed a sudden fault and, boom, no more plane. That being said, as a long time comic book reader, if I don’t see the body…Cut back to the present day, with Nightingale and Angus’s wife talking at Strallen’s funeral. Turns out Strallen had a son he called Thomas, who is the spitting image of his father. Something that obviously pleases the still Strallen obsessed Molly as well.

A decent resolution and wrap up, though I did think the story promised a little more than it ended up delivering. Fischer sort of got away with things in the sense his disposal was too easy, and all the chasing and legwork seemed for naught. That being said, I enjoyed the events being intertwined with the real life Windscale Fire crisis, and the story flowed nicely, so much so I was wishing there was more than there was. The Windscale text piece was very good reading, and the Peter and Beverley one pager raised a smirk as always. Fun as this blast from the past has been, I’m looking forward to Peter taking centre stage in the future.

A good story arc overall, with good writing with Andrew Cartmel over the four issues, and an ending that just felt a little too pat. Just a little. The art by Brian Williamson was as excellent as always, he’s been a fine replacement for Lee Sullivan, Williamson’s art was perfect for the 50’s setting and if we have any more cases from the past he should be the go to artist. Lovely stuff.

Consistently fun and entertaining in equal measure, always worth your money and time.

**** 4/5

Rivers of London: Action at a Distance #4 is out now from Titan Comics.


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