14th Oct2021

‘Rivers of London: Monday Monday #4’ Review

by Dean Fuller

Written by Ben Aaronovitch, Andrew Cartmel | Art by Jose Maria Beroy | Published by Titan Comics

This being the concluding chapter of the ‘Monday Monday’ arc, I think it’s fair to say I’ve found it quite an uneven one. I get what Aaronovitch and Cartmel have tried to do, by having a central storyline running through the issues that various characters can revolve around, but aside from novelty value I’ve found it hard to get into. That being said, nothing wrong with writers taking risks, trying to shake things up a bit to keep it all fresh. For me, though, I enjoy the secondary characters because they are just that, secondary characters. They work best as background to Peter’s shenanigans. Still, as this is a temporary aside, I’ll try to roll with it as the writers intend.

So, the first page of this issue made me chuckle even more, as the writers are doubling down on the experimentation. Not only are we continuing to follow secondary characters, Peter himself barely features at all, we are going to do so without dialogue. In the first 16 pages there are literally just 16 words, and not many more after that. I guess Aaronovitch and Cartmel felt that artist Beroy had to earn his keep, and tell a story with just the visuals. I know this has been done before, an Alpha Flight issue by John Byrne springs to mind, but still an interesting thing to do, as comics still rely on dialogue a lot to move the story forward. The fact we’ve seen some scenes from different viewpoints anyway I guess means there are fewer dots to fill in.

The initial part of the story revolves around Foxglove, who is a Fae who lives in Nightingale’s home, The Folly. She can’t speak, hence the non-dialogue part. At least it’s organic to the story. She’s looking for mischief, and finds it when she meets up with Abigail. First though, her naked running through the house is creatively rendered by Beroy, who manages to use Foxglove’s flowing hair very creatively. They head out for some Harry Potter sketching at Kings Cross, and who do they cross paths with, but a certain hoody wearing lycanthrope, the one who’s been popping up all over the place. One quick chase later, they’ve caught him and take him back to The Folly.

Now we have a name. Oscar. Oscar is from Sweden, and isn’t a bad guy at all. His being mixed up with Kyle, the young lad from earlier, is purely innocent, having befriended him on his visit to London. The last few pages are like a comedy of errors, with a wrap up coming from various characters and scenes still inter-connecting, as we see things wrap. It’s a happy ending for all, including Peter, who’s father survived the serious episode from the end of last issue. Although I’m still on the fence in terms of the story arc creatively, as a technical exercise in storytelling I thought it very clever. You need a total grasp of this world and its characters to pull off something like this, and on that level it’s been a great success.

I’m still a huge fan of this world and the people that live in it, but ultimately I view these four issues as little more than a sideways peak from more interesting stories still to be told. The whole werewolf thing was just there to give the characters the opportunity to cross paths, sometimes unwittingly, and that novelty wore off a little by this issue as the lack of actual story became apparent. It would have made a great single issue, not so much an entire arc. Still, even an average Rivers of London book is better than a lot of other stuff out there, and I do applaud the fact that even with little to no dialogue, all the characters still seemed authentic and recognisable.

I don’t think this was a great story arc for new readers to try and enter the Rivers of London world with, because little to no explanation was given of who anyone was, but for established readers this was a decent enough read. On balance though, one of the lesser stories to date.

Good thing is, just like London buses, there’s always another great Rivers of London story along soon.

***½  3.5/5

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