Once & Future #3
Writer: Kieron Gillen
Artist: Dan Mora
Colorist: Tamra Bonvillain
Letterer: Ed Dukeshire
Editor: Matt Gagnon
Publisher: BOOM! Studios
Gran and Duncan are in a race against time to get back to the Otherworld. The sword in the stone awaits, and he who pulls the sword from the stone becomes King.
Once & Future #3 starts with several bangs and an explosion as Gran and Ducan fight off an undead horde of Arthur’s knights. Gran, who is quickly becoming my favorite character of the year, praises the nerdy Ducan for being a natural at smiting the undead with machine guns as she digs through his pack, and pulls out some explosives. She tells him to run and sets off herself. It’s at this moment that I really appreciate Kieron Gillen’s writing. See, Gran is not as young as she once was, and being the good grandson that Duncan is, he goes back for Gran and carries her out as she clicks the detonator. Just the idea that Gillen is recognizing that Gran started this adventure in a nursing home really grounds the story. We can feel the Gran is struggling with some of the physical aspects of the adventure, which at the same time realizing Gran was an absolute badass in her youth. I digress, Ducan and Gran make it out from the Otherworld, and this gateway is closed.
Gran laments the death of a former colleague – a Doctor of History, from Bristol. Remember back in issue one, the woman Duncan was on his disastrous date with is a Doctor of History at Bristol? Convenient, right? Duncan takes Gran to meet Rose, and Gran introduces herself through the business end of a gun, to which Duncan responds by telling her she can’t do that! Grandparents, am I right? Rose takes it surprisingly well and the scene is a nice spot to relax before the next terrifying thing happens. Gran still has some tricks up her sleeve and leads Duncan and Rose to a basement storage area where, to a box locked in a box, which holds a note to Rose, who after reading decided to go along with the whole adventure. Next stop, Bath.
Why Bath? Edgar the Good, the first King of all England, was crowned at Bath Abbey, not in London. In terms of geological places of power, a place with that kind of deep history can be used as a gateway to Otherworld, connect with other places of power where a King may be crowned. Again, this is a great piece of storytelling that could come into play later
Our adventures enter the aby and see it full of ghosts, Rose instantly understands all this is real as Gran hands her the candle. Rose is to be a light so they will be able to find their way back through the darkness.
Gran and Duncan come across Arthur who is about to pull a sword out of a stone. Duncan assumes it’s Excalibur, but Gran provides him with a history lesson. Turns out there are lots of kingly swords in history, and this is not the sword of legend. Then Elaine reveals that her son is the Galahad who will bring the Grail to Arthur. Galahad will find the Grail because that’s what Galahad does.
I’m really in love with this series and #3 has it firing on all cylinders. The story is perfectly balanced between the ghastly Arthur and his knights and the contemporary Duncan, Gran, and now Rose. The colors by Tamra Bonvillain are perfect in setting the tone from the city streets to the catacombs of an old abbey. She makes great use of the sources of light and how they bounce off various surfaces. The “creepy” factor is very much her creation
Bottom Line: I’ve been reading comics for a long time and it’s really hard to find something totally original. Once & Future is by far one of the most original stories I’ve read in a long time. Using Arthur as a bad guy? What? Lastly, if I don’t get a prequel about Gran’s adventures I’m gonna be pissed!