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Comic Book / Drowntown

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Drowntown is a graphic novel by Robbie Morrison and Jim Murray. It could be described as a mix of Science Fiction (perhaps Bio Punk) and Fantastic Noir. The setting is a future London that's now partly flooded thanks to climate change, and which is now home not just to humans but genetically enhanced animals. The story is split between two time periods — in one, a bodyguard and detective named Leo Noiret gets hired by an amnesiac underworld figure to investigate her origins; in the other, an aqua-courier named Gina Cassel becomes involved with the heir to a powerful MegaCorp

Drowntown is expected to be released as three books. The first was released in the UK in 2013, while the other two are still forthcoming.

Drowntown contains examples of:

  • The Big Guy: Leo Noiret is big, although less of it is muscle than was probably the case when he was a cop.
  • City of Canals: London has become one, although not intentionally — parts of the city have flooded due to Global Warming, but the city is still fully inhabited.
  • Courier: Gina Cassel works as an aqua-courier in flooded London. This can be dangerous — when we first see her, she's being chased by a gang of thugs. (She's rather annoyed at the end of it when the supposedly important package is just a rich guy's clothes which he could easily have waited for or replaced.)
  • Death Faked for You: Alexandra Bastet seems to have had this done, with the added feature that she doesn't even remember her past life herself. She used to be Gina Cassel, and when Leo discovers this, he's jumped by goons who want the faked death to stick: "Gina Cassel's dead. Leave her that way."
  • Did They or Didn't They?: A delayed version. When Grace is trying to kill Leo, she's none too pleased at the suggestion that they once hooked up without her remembering it.
    Leo: Guess this means it's too late to kiss and make up...
    Grace: Kiss and make up? What do you mean...? Did we...? We didn't...? Jesus! That just makes me want to kill you even more!
  • Dirty Cop: Grace Carter used to be a detective, but became disillusioned (like Leo) and started working both sides (unlike Leo). When the story begins, she's trying to eliminate Leo because he knows all about her.
  • Flashback: The story alternates between "then" and "now" time periods (both being the future relative to the real world). In the story's present, Leo Noiret is hired to investigate the background of the character who stars in the flashbacks.
  • Flooded Future World: Future London has become a City of Canals thanks to Global Warming. Among other things, the flooding means that water-based transport is now considerably more common — one of the main characters is an aqua-courier, riding through what used to be streets.
  • Friend on the Force: Leo goes to an old acquaintance of his, Inspector Mickey Hammond, for information. Hammond isn't actually very friendly (or at least, they're Vitriolic Best Buds), but Leo points out that some of Hammond's successes were thanks to Leo's help (and that this help could be withdrawn in future).
  • Gold Digger: Gina Cassel doesn't care that her courier business doesn't bring her riches, and refuses help from her rich boyfriend, Vincent Drakenberg, on the grounds that she wants to keep her independence. This view is not shared by her partner in the business, Izzy, who tries to seduce Vincent herself. It doesn't work (or perhaps we just haven't seen it yet, since Izzy certainly seems to have prospered in the time since Gina's supposed death.)
  • Identity Amnesia: Alexandra Bastet woke up in Alexandria (hence her name, presumably) with no memory whatsoever of who she used to be, and although she has achieved a huge amount since then, she still wants to know where she came from. Her accent marked her as British, so she hires a London investigator to dig up clues.
  • Interservice Rivalry: The police and Admiralty Intelligence don't seem to get along. When Hammond (a cop) runs a database check as a favour to Leo, Admiralty Intelligence comes to find out who's digging, but are promptly stonewalled by the cops (at least until Leo tells Hammond to let it go).
  • Knight in Sour Armor: Leo Noiret used to be an investigator for the International Criminal Court in the Hague, but got disillusioned when he realised he wasn't really changing anything. He ended up with something like a dishonourable discharge, and is now something like a bodyguard and private detective, but he still has a moral compass — for one thing, he's not much impressed by Alexandra Bastet.
  • Make It Look Like an Accident: Grace Carter tries to dispose of Leo in a way that won't be identified as murder. Since he's frequently drunk, she figures that drowning him in sludge will work — people will just assume he fell in. When Leo manages to avoid that, she considers upgrading it to a bash on the head (again from "falling down drunk"), but she gets killed by a third party before enacting it.
  • MegaCorp: Drakenberg Corporation is a huge company with many fields of work, although it seems to have a specialisation in genetic engineering. Gina Cassel, one of the main characters, gets romantically involved with the heir to the company (who is a long way above her in status and wealth). Although she can't remember it, Drakenberg seems to figure into whatever happened to her — she's got a Drakenberg pendant, the record of her supposed "death" indicates that Vincent Drakenberg was the one who identified her corpse, and a Drakenberg-owned law enforcement company was involved in declaring the death an accident.
  • No Questions Asked: Solly's delivery job for Gina and Izzy comes under this condition, although he does give his word that it's "nothing sexual or criminal" (not that they necessarily trust him).
  • Public Bathhouse Scene: Gina and Izzy meet Solly, who has a job for them, at a public mud spa. They're not all that pleased about getting into a mud bath with him, although as he points out, he's not even the right species to have any inappropriate ulterior motive for wanting to meet there.
  • Secret Identity: Vincent Drakenberg has a public image of a playboy, but he's actually quite heavily involved in the affairs of his family's MegaCorp — as a kind of hitman, rather than a businessman.
  • Sleazy Politician: The politician Jeremy Twisden tells a representative of Drakenberg Corporation that while he is indeed accepting their generous donations and he is indeed going to adopt policies which benefit them, these two things are completely unrelated, and he's actually a man of principle. He's not very convincing.
  • Sunken City: Thanks to Global Warming, London now has a lot more water than it used to. It's still fully inhabited, however, and has actually gained population as people seek refuge from places that have it worse off. Among other things, the flooding means that water-based transport is now considerably more common — one of the main characters is an aqua-courier, riding through what used to be streets.
  • Swarm of Rats: Leo gets mobbed by rats, and since they're escaped genetic experiments with human-level intelligence, they're able to tie him up. They have something of a grudge against him, but he's able to talk them into letting it slide and doing some work for him. (Their king says that they're sparing him because he's the only creature lower than they are.)
  • Uplifted Animal: Genetic engineering has resulted in "chimeras", animals with human-level intelligence. A wide range of animals have been subject to this — we see gorillas, hyenas, rats, pandas, and others.
  • Wrench Wench: Izzy seems to do maintenance on the bikes used in the courier business she shares with Gina (and Gina might as well). That doesn't mean she actually likes working on machines, though — unlike Gina, she'd get out of the business if there were something better.
  • Wretched Hive: Much of London has become this, although rich people still enjoy a lot of comfort in their towers above it all.