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‘Once & Future #29:’ Comic Book Review

Previously: While the Arthurs were still vying for the claim to the Sword in the Stone to legitimize their claim to England, the gang freed Lear. With the passage of a year and a day since Rose struck off the head of the Green Knight, well, old promises must be kept and paid in full. Meanwhile, Duncan and Bridgette headed off to complete Operation Lethe.

This is an action-packed issue with quite a bit of exposition about one of our heroes, so it’ll be difficult to summarize it without giving much away. Suffice it to say, once the first pieces start to fall into place, the outcome is pretty obvious. While part of the incredibly complicated plan pans out, a wild card throws the pieces back into the air, leading to an incendiary consequence.

Kieron Gillen’s taken us for a wild ride this year, and this issue really picks up the pace despite quite a bit of character exposition that’s dropped on us. It does feel a bit eleventh hour to be getting that bit of info, but it didn’t feel cheap to me. And given the recent turn of events involving the English monarchy, I can’t help but feel that this issue was strangely timely in a way. With how things seem to be playing out, it does feel like the current arc is nearing its conclusion and Gillen has made the journey feel truly earned so far.

Dan Mora turns in an issue that manages to balance absolutely frenetic action along with emotional gravitas. I was initially not sure how I felt about the armor design for one of the characters because it seemed to be so visually different from all the others, but, ultimately, I think that’s sorta the point. Instead of keeping in the style of each of the Arthurs so far, this one seems to have elements of a more hopeful kind of fantasy: very Greek pantheon mixed with modern sensibilities. Which actually completely makes sense for the character, as Mora’s designs for each iteration of Arthur has been generally reflective of the kind of literary period they draw from. Tamra Bonvillain’s colors work fabulously in tandem with Mora’s work, giving every panel that kind of explosive, kinetic feel that’s so retro and yet modern. Bonvillain’s really good at leading the eye to relevant details, and I found this to be really helpful in the really dynamic pages. So much detail could be lost in the hands of a lesser colorist. Finally, Ed Dukeshire’s lettering completes the visual trifecta, giving each character such a distinctive “voice.” The special effects are especially lovely, as they really inform the reader on what the more otherworldly characters sound like, which is no mean feat in a purely visual medium.

Overall, while much of the plan has gone by the numbers so far, an unexpected betrayal is sure to cause more than a few problems for our intrepid heroes. Gillen et al. really ratchet up the tension in this issue and, as usual, I can’t wait to see what comes next.        


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