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‘Once & Future #24:’ Advance Comic Book Review

Quick recap: With two legendary kings fighting over the land, Bridgette’s idea to meet a third legendary king seemed a tad batty, but then again, why not add another player to the board?

While the visit with Leir seems a bit short, it appears that Bridgette is staying one step ahead of the game. Figuring that the kings all need a bit more of a thorn in their sides, she hopes to enlist the talents and expert marksmanship of one such merry brigand. On the other hand, the Arthurs are met with yet another possible claimant to the throne and land.

Breaking from precedent, this issue doesn’t end the current arc. In fact, it seems to complicate it more with even more stories. With antagonists galore, it’s truly baffling how three people – even with their vast knowledge and understanding of mythologies and stories – will be able to come out of this as victors. Kieron Gillen keeps finding new ways to pull in new threads, but the central conflict seems to always revolve around Arthur and his claim to Britain. With the arrival of a new challenger to the throne, I’d spin Merlin’s exhausted “This will never end” in a more positive light, and that it’s why #StoriesMatter. Narratives are often shaped by recent cultural events and new perspectives, even with old stories, and Gillen’s inventiveness keeps things from circling old tropes, instead making them feel rejuvenated. The ironic eye he turns on his subject matter is never too coy, with a lot of tongue-in-cheek references to material. On a final note, the date for a King Lear revival seems to be awfully close to when Rose will be expected to perform her part as Gawain…

Not much new can be said for how I feel about the aesthetic of this series. Dan Mora’s work is great as usual, and his ability to visually distinguish between the different iterations of Arthur and his court is fantastic. Tamra Bonvillain’s an integral part to the visual identity of the book, and I found the one scene set in the past to be particularly moving, probably due to the extreme change in color palettes. It just felt so old and defeated, which is a marked departure from the norm. Ed Dukeshire rounds out this team nicely, and I found a couple of his choices with the lettering between the clash of Arthurs to be interesting. For one, the individual Arthurs had very different lettering styles, with the Brittonic Arthur’s always seeming much wilder and the French Arthur being much more refined; however, in their clash, we see that distinction kind of dissolve, with both their speeches seemingly blended. The arrival of a new challenger leads me to believe that the clash and the dissolution of such dichotomy is no accident. Maybe, as Bridgette says, “Every part wants to be part of the whole.“

Overall, we have a new challenger to the throne, with both Arthurs seemingly calling a stalemate. A new “prince” of sorts will likely be a pain in the rear for the rival kings. Meanwhile, Mary is making new moves of her own.   

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

Wenxian Tan, Fanbase Press Contributor



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