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‘Once & Future #22:’ Comic Book Review

Quick recap: With the Brittonic Arthur calling on all his knights to aid him in his battle against his Norman counterpart, both Duncan (“Percival”) and Rose (“Gawain”) were technically summoned to aid their king and their reluctance to do so wasn’t taken well. After depositing Rose’s parents with the rest of the group at the Grail Castle, it’s off with the merry trio of monster hunters to draw the attention away from the group for their safety. Too bad about the giant that showed up though…

As it turns out, the Brittonic Arthur is not the only monarch summoning his knights to his service. The Norman Arthur is doing the same, gearing up for an epic clash. The McGuires and Rose are on the search for the secret armory of the greatest hunter of accord and… it’s someone rather, erm, unexpected? The return of a major player into the fold may hint at an uneasy alliance to come.

Kieron Gillen continues to challenge the notion of a canonical King Arthur story by delving deeper into the rivalry between the two Arthurs. It’s perhaps pertinent to point out once more that a lot of what is attributed to the Brittonic monarch were later inventions by the French and other cultures, ironically. And that strength of narrative may be coming to play here, as the Norman (a.k.a. French) Arthur seems to be outdoing his Brittonic counterpart, in no small part due to his Lancelot. Perhaps this is an allusion to the fact that history and even legends are written and rewritten by the victors, and if we’re to throw this right back to the Brexit allusions of the first arc, this seems like a rather pointed eyeroll at the idea of a single British culture when so much of the country’s nationality is dictated by foreign influences, including its national language and religion. Stories are, in their very essence, keepers of history and sentiment, and so #StoriesMatter.

Dan Mora’s inventive takes on legends are so much of what makes this series a joy to read. His designs are constantly over-the-top, which fits so well with the point that legends and stories often have elaborate and ridiculous exaggerations. Hence, a giant lion that breathes fire, for no other reason than because it makes a much more badass story. Tamra Bonvillain’s colorwork rides on that same train of thought; the color palette often eschews the mundane for the fantastical, reminding you that this isn’t a documentary but a full-on swing-by-the-nuts story that blends the known and arcane into a delicious romp. Ed Dukeshire’s lettering is yet another reason that this book works so well, as he’s managed to somehow give voice to a reading medium, and it’s his major contribution that really helps to establish so much tone in this series.

Overall, this is a series that goes from strength to strength with each issue, infusing legends with fantastical takes that defy the imagination.     

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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