Rivers of London: Black Mould
May 14, 2019 7:03 AM - by Ben Aaronovitch - Subscribe

Peter Grant is a cop and part-time wizard investigating London's 'Falcon' crimes--those that are outside the realms of normal criminal investigations--and more into the realms of trolls under bridges, cursed crime scenes, and the ghosts of monsters past. Peter never saw himself in pest control--but that's exactly where he finds himself when a killer, sentient, living fungus goes on a rampage of vengeance using its victims' worst fears against them!
posted by dinty_moore (6 comments total)
Like most of the Rivers comics, this was ok.
I feel, however, that most of the appeal of the books is in the prose, so the comics just work as a placebo until the next book is out.
posted by Marticus at 8:59 PM on May 16, 2019 [2 favorites]

So I *love* the audiobooks, but haven't tried any of these comics. I hate to be so blunt but: should I bother?
posted by wenestvedt at 8:57 PM on May 17, 2019

Try to borrow them first maybe.
posted by Marticus at 4:47 AM on May 18, 2019

So I *love* the audiobooks, but haven't tried any of these comics. I hate to be so blunt but: should I bother?

They're okay.

It depends on how invested you are in the characters, probably. You lose Peter's narration. The art is serviceable, if objectifying (especially for Bev). There's some cute character interactions and glimpses of non-Peter POV. The plots are mentioned in the book but also work as noodle incidents for the most part. I definitely have a better feel for what some of the locations are supposed to look like from the comics.

The series that has the most amount of plot that affects the books is probably Night Witch, the one that I like the most is Detective Stories. I haven't read Water Weed yet because I can just sense the art pissing me off a little too much.

I've been reading a lot of comics that are written by writers that usually work in prose, and it's interesting to see how their style translates. Because they really are different skills, and depending on the writer, what's enjoyable about the writer's style might not carry over from one medium to another. Aaronovitch gives a lot of visual cues in his descriptions - of characters and locations - and he has the ability to write spatially coherent and complex action sequences - stuff that seems like it would lend itself to comics. But yeah, you do lose a lot of Peter's humor in the comics, though there's touches of it from time to time. And I miss the random history and architecture digressions - some of the comics have a final page dedicated to a history lesson, but it's not integrated the same way and kind of difficult to read on a screen.

Though there's also stuff that the comics could probably help with, which I'm not really seeing in this run. When we were discussing the prose books, one of the things that came up over and over is that Aaronovitch doesn't really describe emotion very often - from a Doylist perspective it might be because of his TV background; from a Watsonian perspective, our narrator is an emotionally constipated dude. And the audiobook readings help with that a little bit - you can't help but get more of a sense of tone than what's on the page, but there's also no reason (with the right artists and letterer) that comics can't complement the tone as much as a voice actor can.

For Black Mould - I like the plot - housing and class warfare through magic mold. For once it seemed to have just enough of a twist but still make sense in the end. There's not much in the way of character depth - the idea that Peter's worst fear is leaving London seems to be the worst cop-out.
posted by dinty_moore at 9:41 AM on May 18, 2019 [1 favorite]

As usual, Sullivan fails to impress in the art department, with Guleed looking especially like a set of mismatched body parts unconvincingly string together and covered with a badly-tailored suit. Ms. Petal, on the other hand, was pretty much breath, braids, and glasses, so ew. She was maybe the most comic book thing about the story, like a supervillain origin.

The plot was OK, with some twists and turns and a bit of class warfare. I do wish they’d drop the ongoing haunted car plot and stop trying to make Debden the mechanic a thing. He’s not that interesting, and, while the books are funny, the comics go to random slapstick way too often, usually involving him. Nice working jazz into the story; I’d been missing that. I also liked Peter’s fake memory, which gave me a brief double-take. It works pretty well in the visual medium, because seeing it makes it feel a little more real than just reading the description. The mold-in-a-suit and mold-playing-guitar was just too supervillainy, though.

Nitpicking: how did Nightingale record it? Surely the phone would have been affected by the magic....
posted by GenjiandProust at 10:13 AM on May 25, 2019

Nitpicking: how did Nightingale record it? Surely the phone would have been affected by the magic....

I'd been wondering the same thing - since The Hanging Tree, the books have been a little more inconsistent as to how the magic-dissolves-silica-chips thing work (there's a scene where Peter is able to give off a low-powered werelight that doesn't affect the cameras in the room). I guess it's possible that the mold musician only gave off a large burst of magic right when he came into being, and his state of existence wasn't enough to break the phone - except then the explanation as to why nobody has managed to record the supernatural is less satisfying.
posted by dinty_moore at 4:03 PM on May 27, 2019

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