Review – Once And Future #9 (BOOM! Studios)

Publisher: BOOM! Studios
Writer: Kieron Gillen
Artist: Dan Mora
Colours: Tamra Bonvillain
Lettering: Ed Dukeshire
Release Date: 15th July 2020

“You always were a crap poem, lad. You didn’t even rhyme.”

When last we saw our intrepid hero Duncan and his monster-hunting gran Brigette they were in the process of having the roof of their car torn off by Beowulf (yes, that Beowulf), who had been magicked into existence by Merlin (yes, that Merlin) to smite Duncan and Brigette while helping Merlin gain the confidence of Arthur (yes, that Arthur).

I’m absolutely loving Kieron Gillen’s decision to branch out from the Arthurian legends to other works of Old English literature for this second arc, and having Beowulf being the blunt instrument to be used by Arthur (or, more specifically Merlin, who is clearly pulling the strings here) to take out our heroes is a truly inspired choice.

Beowulf’s overwrought dialogue, and our heroes’ reaction to it, fits the humorous tone of the story perfectly, and his hulking, flame-clad visage gives both Dan Mora and Tamra Bonvillain plenty of opportunity to flex their artistic muscle.

The opening half of the issue is all frenetic action and dry British humour as Beowulf does his thing and our heroes try to stop him, and once again it’s worth mentioning that when it comes to the striking visuals of this series, I really can’t sing the praises of Bonvillain enough.  Don’t get me wrong, Mora’s stylized and linework helps to give the pages their energy, but the wild, dynamic palette of Bonvillain – particular during the scenes when the ‘stories’ arrive and the pinks, blues and purples come to the fore – pushes this book over the top for me.

Along the way we get to find out a little more about Elaine (or should that be Nimue?) and Merlin’s plans, and our heroes earn themselves a brief respite from the forces of evil.  However,  if the final pages are anything to go by, any rest is going to be extremely short lived as yet another literary character appears to have made the jump into the world of the living – and this one may take some stopping, folks.

I’ll freely admit that when Once & Future was expanded to an ongoing series I did have some minor concerns (along with some major excitement). The first arc tied itself up rather well, and felt self-contained enough that Killen and co. could very easily have walked away safe in the knowledge that they’d created something truly great.

Would trying to expand this story work?  Would it dilute the awesomeness?  Cheapen the narrative? Oh, me of little faith. This second arc has only added to the fantastic premise, throwing exciting new wrinkles into the story of the reluctant monster hunter and his bad-ass gran. Blending humour, action and high-stakes fantasy into a thoroughly enjoyable read, this is a series that comes highly recommended.

Rating: 4/5.


The writer of this piece was: Craig Neilson-Adams (aka Ceej)
Article Archive: Ceej Says
You can follow Ceej on Twitter

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