‘Once & Future #23:’ Comic Book Review

Quick recap: Having found the secret armory of William Shakespeare, our merry band of monster hunters came face to face with Mary’s well-trained scope aimed right at Bridgette.

Things pick up right where we left them, with Bridgette standing down her daughter. Desperate mothers are willing to take drastic measures, and these two are not the exception to the rule. Meanwhile, Galahad finds more conflict in familial bonds and the Brittonic Arthur gets ready for a battle outside Bath, much to the chagrin of Merlin as it’s the infamous Battle of Badon. With a truce with Mary in place, Duncan and Co. head to Leicester to encounter yet another ancient story.

Five issues into the current arc and Kieron Gillen keeps finding ways to surprise us with the sheer complexity of how stories and mythologies shift with time and new cultural influences. While this is all fiction, the fact that stories are not just constantly evolving but also, in their own way, an archive of when and how cultures are synthesized from the amalgamation of thesis and antithesis. #StoriesMatter because they hold our history if we know how to decode them and not seek to enshrine them as immutable because they fit our narrative.

This issue is definitely less on the creature designs and focuses a lot more on Dan Mora’s ability to capture casual human interactions, a challenge that he also excels at. The interaction between Bridgette and Mary is excellently rendered, with Bridgette getting to do what she does best: be a badass, knowing that she can outwit just about any enemy. Tamra Bonvillain does some truly magical stuff here with the colors. The Romantic Arthur section is a huge departure from form, with very bright golden hues that feel much more Lothlorien-y than Guillermo del Toro. The other standout for me is the section where Jack meets the fairies… the contrasting hues used really heighten the emotional wrongness of it all. Ed Dukeshire’s lettering is always a treat, and this issue is not going to break that streak.

Overall, the pieces are all in place for a big showdown and with at least four separate interests in play, things are bound to get pretty messy. A proper throwdown between the Brittonic and Romantic Arthurs should be interesting, but I’m really hoping to see how Guinevere will spice things up even more.     


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