‘Once & Future #9:’ Advance Comic Book Review

Quick recap: With Merlin playing matchmaker, Beowulf and King Arthur had their macho meet-cute, complete with beating up on each other, and then - like all rom-coms - they made nice and teamed up against the evil monster and her hellspawn… or y’know, the monster-slaying grandma with a shady past and her very well-built grandson.  

Duncan and Bridgette narrowly escape Beowulf through some old-school ingenuity and plenty of modern explosives. Meanwhile, the plot thickens with Merlin and Elaine (or I guess she may be going as Nimue now?), and while the McGuires have met the hero of Beowulf, they haven’t encountered the antagonists yet…

It would appear that we’ve hit the mid-arc point and new wrinkles are becoming evident. While Beowulf and King Arthur are remarkably dangerous enemies to have, it would appear that perhaps Merlin is the foe that the McGuires should be the wariest about. His agenda seems to be a long game, and he isn’t above manipulating allies to his own purposes. Kieron Gillen’s yarn keeps getting more and more fantastic, with new additions that keep making sense, in a so-bonkers-it-truly-cannot-help-but-make-sense kind of way. It actually struck me how this rather irreverent take on some sacred cows of the UK is why #StoriesMatter; it shows that material that is often reduced to preciousness can have new life breathed into it without devolving into a mindless exercise in testosterone poisoning. It’s refreshing that Duncan’s mentor is an experienced female in the field – his grandmother, no less – and his seer is also female. I know this is fantasy but pinch me! My only criticism here is that I feel like I somehow missed how Rose became a seer of sorts… that sort of just kind of happened in this arc. That aside, I’d read an entire miniseries of just Bridgette terrorizing the senior community she lives in.

Dan Mora and Tamra Bonvillain’s contribution to this issue just keeps going from strength to strength. The opening sequence with the McGuires vs. Beowulf is dynamic perfection! At this point, I’m convinced that Mora could draw a sloth party and make it seem action-packed, and Bonvillain’s color work would probably convince me that I was watching an episode of Speed Racer. Also, that last page… that’s a thing of beauty, right there! Ed Dukeshire’s work on this book just keeps me in awe. From the thoughtful placement of text bubbles to the varying design elements for the supernatural beings, he just makes reading an already cool book so much more enjoyable.

Overall, in my opinion, this issue mostly delivered on the behind-the-scenes goods. It appears that monsters are not just badly behaved tyrants…

Creative Team: Kieron Gillen (writer), Dan Mora (artist), Tamra Bonvillain (colorist), Ed Dukeshire (letterer)
Publisher: BOOM! Studios
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