Peter Grant is a member of the Metropolitan Police Special Assessment Unit which deals with all sort of magical and fantastic crimes. Now, this trainee wizard is on the trail of the drug “werelight weed”, and it looks like he may have gotten the wrong person’s attention! Let’s find out more in this review of Rivers of London: Water Weed #3 from Titan Comics.
Writer: Andrew Cartmel
Artist: Lee Sullivan
Colors: Paulina Vassileva
Publisher: Titan Comics
Cover Price: £3.99 or $4.99
Previously in Rivers of London: Water Weed: Detective Constable Grant continues to investigate the mysterious new drug, werelight weed, with the help of his partner and a goblin girl informant, Lana Blanding. It seems that the new drug may be grown via magical means, but they still have no idea where or how. What they do know is that the supplier, whose face is covered in tattoos and goes by The Hoodette, is not one to be trifled with.
INVESTIGATION ON THE MAGICAL SIDE OF THE LAW
To start this issue off, we find out more about how The Hoodette’s operation works. It seems she found wheelchair bound accountant Gina Penlaw in her home/office/houseboat and made her a deal she couldn’t refuse… literally. Despite her initial discomfort, Penlaw quickly became engulfed in the life as a crime accountant, laundering money and setting up companies. She quickly became rather involved and indispensable to the drug lord. But it seems that there have been some problems with the business, and while Penlaw prepares to set up some new employees and locations, The Hoodette strikes out to deal with some personal problems from within other parts of her organization.
Meanwhile, Peter Grant and Thomas Nightingale are discussing what they have learned from their confidant, the Goblin girl known as Laura Blanding. They think the Hoodette’s facial tattoos may be covering up scars, possibly from a knife fight, but the real mystery is how the werelight weed is grown, could it be by using actual magic? Time to step out and contact some friends for direction. But can they get to the target of the direction before the Hoodette does? And where has the Goblin girl disappeared to?
What follows next proves to the investigators that they are on the right trail, but can they follow it and still live to draw retirement? Can Grant and Nightingale trust their mystic training to protect them from what’s coming?
AN MODERN URBAN CRIME WITH A FANTASY TWIST
Rivers of London: Water Weed is the latest comic book series based on the highly successful Rivers of London series of novels from author Ben Aaronovitch. This story, in particular, takes place in-between the 2016 novel The Hanging Tree and the Titan Comic produced comic mini-series, Cry Fox. I would venture though; you do not have to have prior knowledge of either of those titles to enjoy this book.
While the previous comic titles in the Rivers of London were co-written by Ben Aaronovitch and Andrew Cartmel (Doctor Who, Judge Dredd), this installment seems to be written solely by Cartmel. Despite assumptions to the contrary, it still has the same feel, pacing, and humor which the previous collaborations of the series possessed. This installment takes control of a focus on the mysterious Hoodette, who has a very maniacal appearance, over the investigators. Even the Goblin girl Lana only makes a minor appearance. That said, Cartmel manages to use his television and novel experience to deliver a very cinematic read, with the use of techniques which fans of any modern detective drama, American or British, will recognize. The narration by Peter Grant sets the scene, and the panels fill in the blanks. It reads smoothly, but almost too smooth. As I read the story, I think I picked up on a few of the clues as to the Hoodette’s true identity. It will be interesting to see if I am right.
The art by Lee Sullivan (Doctor Who, Transformers) is good, and readers of the British Doctor Who Magazine and multiple Who comics will recognize his work. It is clean and technical, what some would call precise. The very subject matter would make you wonder if there was a way to take more of a chance with it, but the art overall, in the panel construction and angles, is very technical and clean, almost too much so. The striking cover by Illeighstatoin is such a departure from the interiors, it seems like a missed opportunity. The work of colorist Paulina Vassileva (Rivers of London: Water Weed) both enhances the good and the bad in Sullivan’s art. There are parts of the colors that just work well: the scenes on the river, the drug growing location, the sequence in Chestnut 3; they show a variety of color palette and technique. But when it comes to the people, their clothing, and the general backgrounds, there is a very and clothing, there is a very over processed quality that may take some readers out of the moment. The art is good, but for a tale based in a London where magic is real, it seems a little safe.
BOTTOM LINE: A GOOD READ, FANS SHOULD PICK IT UP
One of the problems with licensed work, particularly when regarding properties which began as prose novels, is that everyone has a pre-conceived notion of how characters and places look in their head. How do you strike that balance between people’s individual expectations and the objective of the illustrated page? Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t. This is a case in which it works, but it seems like a missed opportunity to add a layer of dimension to the title. The story is good, very good, and the art is good. Unfortunately, I think the art could have been so much more, especially after having perused some of the art team’s previous work.
Do I think it is a must buy? If you’re a fan of the series, illustrated or the novels, yes. If you are looking for an urban fantasy fix and don’t have a prior connection to the property, I’m not so sure. There just isn’t a lot of focus on the fantasy aspect, much more on the urban… in this issue at least. It’s fun, but I’m not sure it’s fun enough to take up space in your pull box.
One more thing; there is nudity and sexual situations contained within. Some people need that information prior to purchase, so there it is.
Rivers of London: Water Weed is an urban fantasy with a lot of potential, but a few stumbles stop this book from being a must buy.
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