Rivers of London: Body Work by Ben Aaronovitch and Andrew Cartmel is a new entry in the Rivers of London series, which has so far been told only in novels. Any work that crosses lines media-wise has to do three things: It has to make existing fans happy, it has to be accessible to new fans, and it has to adapt to suit its new format. Body Works succeeds on all counts. In addition to adding a new entry to the series, it provides enough background information to allow newcomers into the loop.
Body Work is set between books four and five–Broken Homes and Foxglove Summer–of the Rivers of London series. Peter Grant, constable and apprentice wizard in London’s Metropolitan Police, is assigned to The Folly. His work involves the usual legwork, detective work, and procedures along with detecting when and where magic has been used and handling any case involving the supernatural, or “the weird shit,” as his colleagues call it. This time, the weird takes the form of cars deliberately killing people—their drivers if they have them, anyone within reach if they don’t.
Aaronovitch knows how to tell a good story and, with Andrew Cartmel, is transferring that art to the comic book format. The details on the various types of computer background checks do not flow as well in a comic book as in a novel, but they have been pared down here to a couple of panels, giving the sense of the larger police office without unduly slowing the narrative. Otherwise, this is a tense beginning to the story, laying out the danger, introducing the principles, and getting the investigation started.
One good thing about seeing this in comic book format is getting a look at just how rich and varied Aaronovitch’s London is. Multiple cultures, races, ages, and body types are present in the police department where Peter works, and Lee Sullivan and colorist Luis Guerrero have shown them all. They have also provided a look at three different locales.
Rivers of London: Body Work is recommended for readers who enjoy a combination of police procedural, urban fantasy, and detective work. It is also a must for those who are already reading the novels.
One more note: The book is rated “M” for a reason. Readers who want to avoid swearing and violence should avoid -though at this point, the violence isn’t worse than the average superhero comic).
Writers: Andrew Cartmel, Ben Aaronovitch
Artist: Lee Sullivan
Colorist: Luis Guerrero
Letters: Rona Simpson