In Review: Rivers of London – Body Work #1

Rivers of London #1 - Cover

Script: Ben Aaronovitch & Andrew Cartmel
Art: Lee Sullivan
Colour: Luis Guerroro
Letters: Rona Simpson

The Book: Peter Grant has come a long way since first entering the special branch of London’s Metropolitan Police. With his hard-earned powers and a flair for the supernatural, it’s his job to investigate those shadowy crimes that involve urban vampires, weird folk in the Underground and, in this case, why cars are suddenly taking on lives of their own and killing innocent people!

Rivers of London #1 - Page 2

The Review: Rivers of London is a terrific series of novels created and written by Ben Aaronovitch, described uncharitably by some as “CSI meets Harry Potter”, as if everything has to be explained in terms Hollywood movie executives will understand. The novels are so much more than that – inventive, carefully researched, character-driven and crammed with atmosphere and humour. So creating a comic based on such a great series might have been a tough act. Would Rivers of London – Body Work measure up? Would it have the same appeal?

I’m happy to report that Body Work measures up. Mightily. Oh, there’s a different style to the storytelling: the move to a visual medium would inevitably necessitate some changes. It’s harder to surprise the reader with unexpected twists if you can see them coming, after all (although not impossible). But along with a by now unusual murder, tinged with magic and senior management feathers ruffled at the even the slightest suggestion of the weird, we get a throughly enjoyable comic book crime procedural (with a killer car).

Script-wise, Ben and Andrew come up trumps. There’s still plenty of Ben’s wry humour at the expense of his characters to enjoy and it’s good to see Peter Grant sharing banter with fellow, bemused officer Sahra Guleed, who’s a recent addition to the book cast. Lee Sullivan tells the story with his usual aplomb, despite the number of inevitably ‘static’ scenes such a story will have in an opening chapter ( I particularly liked how he handles a gentle interrogation scene, for example). Luis Gerrero’s colouring complements Lee’s art beautifully, in my opinion, and the lighting work, particularly the opening early morning scenes set by the Thames, are gorgeous.

Be warned that if you’re not a reader of the novels, some of the asides in Body Work will pass you by (although the origin of Peter’s breakfast bag will no doubt be explained in due course). But once again, this is a Rivers of London story that is, as I said above, so much, much more than “CSI meets Harry Potter”. Issue One sets the scene nicely for what looks to be an enjoyable ride.

Just so long as it isn’t in a murderous BMW…

Rivers of London #1 is on sale in all good comic shops on Wednesday 15th April 2015

• All three creators will be signing on Wednesday, 15th July, 2015 at 18:00 – 19:00 at the Forbidden Planet London Megastore, 179 Shaftesbury Avenue, London, WC2H 8JR. More information here

• More about Rivers London on the official web site at www.the-folly.com/books/rivers-of-london-uk

• Follow Ben Aaronovitch on Twitter @Ben_Aaronovitch

• Follow Andrew Cartmel on Twitter @andrewcartmel

• Visit Lee Sullivan’s great official web site at www.leesullivanart.co.uk or follow  on Twitter @LeeSullivanArt

John Freeman

The founder of downthetubes, John describes himself as is a "freelance comics operative", currently working as a freelance editor for TITAN COMICS, as Creative Consultant on the new DAN DARE audio adventures for B7 Media, and on promotional work for the LAKES INTERNATIONAL COMIC ART FESTIVAL and LANCASTER COMICS DAY. John has worked in British comics publishing for over 30 years, starting out at Marvel UK, where he edited a number of the Genesis 1992 books with Paul Neary. His numerous credits include editor of titles such as Doctor Who Magazine at Marvel and Star Trek Magazine and Babylon 5 Magazine at Titan Magazines, where he was Managing Editor. He also edited STRIP Magazine and worked as an editor on several audio comics for ROK Comics, including TEAM M.O.B.I.L.E. and THE BEATLES STORY. Most recently he is writing CRUCIBLE as a creator-owned project with 2000AD artist Smuzz, published on Tapastic; and DEATH DUTY and SKOW DOGS with Dave Hailwood for the digital comic 100% Biodegradable.

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