Publisher: BOOM! Studios
Writer: Kieron Gillen
Artist: Dan Mora
Colours: Tamra Bonvillain
Lettering: Ed Dukeshire
Release Date: 22nd January 2020
As I sat down to dig into the final part of the first arc of BOOM’s Once & Future, I couldn’t help but think just how grateful I am that this series has been given the ongoing treatment. Don’t get me wrong, a six-part miniseries would still have made for a great read, but the prospect of seeing Kieron Gillen, Dan Mora and Tamra Bonvillain expanding on the fallout of the events here fills me with a childlike sense of glee.
But I’m getting ahead of myself. Going into this issue, the stakes were fairly high. Bleeding out as the result of a self-inflicted gunshot wound, Bridgette is in a bad way. Thankfully, Duncan has an ace in the hole in the form of legendary sword Excalibur, and has a plan (or, at least, we hope he does) to save his Gran and thwart the potentially cataclysmic rise of King Arthur.
It’s great to see Duncan continuing his evolution from wet blanket to bonafide hero here, growing into his destiny in rather impressive fashion. He still has the same naïve charm that made him so likeable in the early issues, but seeing him finally taking matters into his own hands – as opposed to merely reacting to events happening to him – is a ton of fun.
On the visual side of things, Bonvillain confidently carries the otherworldly aesthetic throughout the course of this issue with her striking blend of purples, pinks and lime greens. This is a book that leans heavily on its artwork, and both Bonvillain and Mora deliver suitably strong performances here to bring the events of this first arc home – with the latter really getting to cut loose during one particular balletic flurry of Excalibur-based violence
Story-wise, things admittedly get a little murky in terms of the established legend near the end, but that’s all part of the fun, and, to be honest, is going make the second arc all the more interesting. We also get a particularly tasty epilogue for good measure to help whet the reader’s appetite for issue seven, including the arrival of another well-established face from the Arthurian legends.
With a heady blend of snappy, unmistakably British banter and epic fantasy, Once & Future is a series I have no problem recommending. Managing to avoid either taking itself too seriously or devolving into parody, it lands right in the ‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer’ sweet spot, and I absolutely can’t wait to see where Gillen, More and Bonvillain take us in the upcoming second arc.