‘Once & Future #3:’ Advance Comic Book Review

A quick recap: Having witnessed the resurrection of King Arthur and a few of his faithful knights, Bridgette and Duncan have the daunting task of stopping them. Armed with a magical scabbard that heals all wounds, Arthur seems pretty unstoppable right now…

Things pick up right where we left them, and Duncan and Bridgette are on the run. Along the way, they pick up an unlikely ally. Meanwhile, we learn that Bridgette is willing to take some drastic actions in order to prevent Arthur from returning to full power…

Dan Mora and Tamra Bonvillain’s partnership continues to impress. The visuals are on point, whether it’s an actual location or the interactions between the characters. The character expressions are easy to read, and they truly do set the tone. The lettering by Ed Dukeshire further reinforces the point that comics truly do work best when you have a harmonious team contributing their best work to the project.

Kieron Gillen’s dark take on a King Arthur tale set in the 21st century is such a revelation. It’s such an interesting “what if?” story; positing a typically heroic character as the scourge of mankind is a very ballsy move. King Arthur, being such an important narrative to the British Isles and national identity, is rarely placed in a historical context in most contemporary retellings, so I think giving the reader a particular sense of how such formative and significant myths and legends have evolved over time is extremely important, especially in the current political climate, not just in the UK, but perhaps, globally. Honestly, this has been the most refreshing reimagining of Arthurian legends since Marion Zimmer Bradley’s The Mists of Avalon, and I look forward to being surprised at every point of the way moving forward.

My only criticism of Gillen’s characters so far has been that the focus has almost entirely been on the “good guys,” and, as such, Duncan and Bridgette are deliciously outlined in very much the Indiana Jones trope, but the “baddies” have been a bit sidelined, with the exception of some heavy exposition about the Arthurian myths. Other than a seemingly pro-Brexit and xenophobic rhetoric (ironic, given the last issue’s developments), Elaine’s motives remain unclear, and I’d like to learn more about her past (especially with Bridgette) soon. Other than that, I’m glad to see that Duncan’s disastrous first date may not be the last that we see of Rose, and I’m hoping that just like her namesake, she’s not just a pretty face but a tough and hardy individual with the occasional thorny disposition.

Overall, the showdown between Team Otherworld and Haunted World is heating up, with the introduction of new characters and deepening mythology. Gillen, Mora, Bonvillain, and Dukeshire are doing some excellent work!

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

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