Rivers of London: Body Work

Rivers1Ben Aaronovitch‘s Rivers of London series of novel has enjoyed great success and popularity, with the sixth in the series The Hanging Tree due out next year, so it’s about time then that the character of Peter Grant was given a comic to show off his skills, and Titan Comics, who also publish the Doctor Who series, have given the chance for the Folly to be illustrated in a five issue story arc entitled Body Work.

“My name is Peter Grant I am a member of that mighty army for justice known, to all right thinking people, as the Metropolitan Police. And to everyone else as ‘The Filth.'”

Rivers2For those unfamiliar with Aaronovitch‘s world, Rivers of London is set around Metropolitan Police Constable Peter Grant who in the first book of the series was recruited into the Met’s specialist unit dealing with the supernatural. Showing a very well researched feel for the both London and those who police it, the book gained a lot of popularity, and that same detail extends to the comic which continues the theme of a police procedural with the added elements of the supernatural.

“You can call us ‘Falcon’ or ‘The Folly’, or the Special Assessment Unit. Just so long as you call us.”

With the series originally inspired by Aaronovitch‘s difficulty in choosing whether he would prefer to write supernatural novels or detective fiction and finally deciding to write both in one, the introductions in the comic are brief, relying on some familiarity with the setting and characters of the source novels.

Rivers2This first illustrated investigation takes our intrepid police officer to an apparent suicide in the river Thames, a motorist having driven his car through the barriers and drowned. Beverly Brooke, another well known character from the book series informs our hero that this it was definitely not a suicide, but in fact a murder committed by the car driving itself.

It may be a familiar horror trope, but a possessed car can make for plenty of enjoyable stories, however, despite the potentially engaging hook the comic feels stilted with the story never really grabbing attention, with neither the characters nor the plot sufficiently strong enough to pull the reader in.

Rivers4The artwork is reminiscent of Titan’s Doctor Who comics, functional but neither dynamic nor engaging. While it is well drawn it feels cold, technical and lacking the passion that would draw the reader into the world. While fans of the novels may enjoy seeing a little more of their heroes Peter Grant and Inspector Nightingale in action, this opening foray into the comic world is unlikely to expand beyond them to appeal to new readers, and those new to Aaronovitch‘s world would be best off starting with the core material of the Rivers of London novels.

Written by Aaronovitch himself, also a veteran of Doctor Who having penned the Sylvester McCoy stories Remembrance of the Daleks and Battlefield and his one-time colleague on the show, former script editor Andrew Cartmel (Operation Herod, Doctor Who: Atom Bomb Blues), with the theme continuing to both artist Lee Sullivan and colours by Luis Guerrero, both of whom have worked on various incarnations of the Doctor Who comic strips down the years.

The concluding issue of Rivers of London, Body Work #5, released November 11th 2015




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