Published on July 15th, 2015 | by JCDoyle0
Rivers Of London #1 Review
Body Work Chapter 1
(That title will become clear before the end of the issue)
Police procedural and haunted cars: if you think that sounds like a Stephen King episode of CSI you wouldn’t be far wrong. Rivers of London – Body Work contains a large amount of plausible detective work mixed with an element of magic and demonic possession.
Rivers of London is a soon to be 6 book series of urban fantasy novels written by Ben Aaronovitch, each of which revolves around the central character of Peter Grant, police constable and apprentice wizard. But don’t worry if you’ve not read the novels (although after reading this you may find yourself at least a little bit curious) pretty much everything you need to know about the characters and the world they inhabit is here in this first issue. There is a moment or two when it references events from the novels but nothing that would impede your enjoyment of the story.
It starts with an automobile incident; an expensive car sinks into the depths of the Thames with its driver fighting for air. It’s a fight he’s destined to lose but his last moments have been witnessed by Beverley Brook, a water Goddess and companion to Peter Grant. She calls him and lets him know that something weird is behind the ‘accident’ so Grant heads down to the crime scene.
The detectives in charge of the investigation, DC Sahra Guleed and DC Miriam Stephanopoulos are dubious of Grants appearance, his abilities and the nature of the investigatory work he undertakes but they allow him to assist them. A thorough going over of the car reveals traces of Vestigia, magical evidence that something over worldly is going on.
The first half of the story is about the investigation into the car and its owner. It follows the logical course of crime dramas; following the clues and checking out the suspects. This includes an ex-girlfriend and a dodgy mechanic. This element of the story does at times become over written as if everything needs to be explained, like an unwanted voiceover but for the most part the police procedures and the magical explanations fit snugly with the clever panel layouts and easy to follow design. This is a comic that is ‘new reader’ friendly. Some of the subtleties of expression or movement add as much to the narrative as the speech or voice over. Body Work is a mystery story that needs breaking and there a clues, or possible red herrings, throughout the comic: the look on Miss Goring’s lawyers face when they learn of her ex-boyfriend’s death is a little to smug, for example.
The tone and pace of the story changes however when Grant and Guleed investigate the dodgy garage. When they get there they react to a cry for help and Grant uses some of his magic ability to break into the premises. Once inside things get a bit Christine as they become hunted by a possessed automobile. The mechanic is also fleeing for his life (is It just me or does he bare a passing likeness to Ginger from the Wildhearts?) and appears to have no idea what is going on.
The issue ends with the arrival of Inspector Nightingale, an imposing and impressive figure, and the whole issue finishes leaving many questions to be answered.
Lee Sullivan does a wonderful job in making London look and feel real while at the same time allowing the more magical elements to appear other worldly, Beverley Brook is especially good, standing out as a larger than life character. Some of this has to be down to Luis Guerrero’s colours as he contrasts the mundane greys and browns of the world we know with the athletic purple and blue hues that represent the magical world.
Add to this all of this a single page story about rubbish dumping in the Thames and a text piece about part of Peter Grant’s London and overall this is a very entertaining and satisfactory first issue. There is a kink or two near the beginning where the narrative is trying to set the scene without being patronising but once the story gets flowing everything becomes easy to follow and is a thrilling ride.
Title: Rivers of London – Body Work
Publisher: Titan Comics
Writers: Ben Aaronovitch/Andrew Cartmel
Artist: Lee Sullivan
Colours: Luis Guerrero