It’s London, now – only, of course, it isn’t because the London of Drowntown (Bk 1) is partially submerged – but it’s still the recognisable London of Dickens, albeit refracted through the 2000AD goggles of Morrison & Murray: there are chain smoking action heroes (with a look of Guy Garvey – see below), super-idealised beauties, grim looking baddies, furry assassins – it’s Tank Girl, in other words, except the girl’s a guy who’s built like a tank.
Leo Noiret (said tank) is hired by a rather goodlooking (and as I say somewhat idealised – see right) lady called Bastet, a businesswoman also known as the Empress of the Nile, with a dangerous reputation, to find out who she is – yes, that’s right, who she is, her memory only beginning a decade or so previous. Interspersed with a search that sees him variously dumped in murk, tied up Gulliver-style by intrepid rats, threatened by giant talking pandas and beaten up by an aggressive chimp is Bastet’s back story, her move from a futuristic jet-ski riding courier to whatever it is she becomes (although, as this is Book 1, we only glimpse a fraction of the story).
It’s slick, no doubt, as a lot of modern comics are (it looks like the art was produced on computers and reproduced on the glossiest paper that has ever existed) and you can tell these guys cut their teeth on 2000AD (if you love or loved 2000AD you’ll get a massive kick out of Drowntown) – but there’s something slightly lacking about the whole endeavour. Undoubtedly, this lacking is down to the fact this is only Book 1 (we’d be a lot more forgiving if this had been issued as a comic book and only later, once complete, collected within two hardback covers – but the UK comics market is on its arse so I can understand why someone would leap at an offer from Jonathan Cape; it’s fine for Charles Burns, a comics artist whose books repay repeated scrutinising to do the old episodic thing, less fine for something a little more scrappy and throwaway). Arguably, everyone concerned could learn a lot from the packaging and marketing of Mark Millar’s Kick Ass series.
Any Cop?: Not essential, then (unless you’re a massive action movie fan or 14 years old) but fun nevertheless in a cheap and disposable sort of way.