Pullbox Reviews: Once & Future #7 – Something legendary this way comes…

Although Bridgette and Duncan were able to escape the Otherworld, their adventure is only just beginning! As the chaos of Arthur’s return reaches London, an artifact at the British Museum is stolen. But is it Arthur who’s interested in the relic… or someone, or something, new?

Duncan is still getting accustomed to his role as a person of interest in matters of destiny & legend… but he’s not alone. With the aid of his oracle & possible love interest Rose, and Gran- quite possibly the scariest octogenarian to ever walk the face of the earth- Duncan has dispatched every supernatural threat to rear its head. However, in matters of myth there exists a single certainty… legends grow. In Otherworld, Arthur’s twisted Camelot continues its machinations as the once & would-be future King plots his return.

Like Duncan, Arthur is not alone.

Legends grow… and one will rise.

Eventually, I’m just gonna run out of great things to say about this series & the creative team behind it. When that happens, the entire article will just be a link to past Pullbox reviews with the single word “ditto” at the end of it. However, my wife seems pretty confident in my ability to spew impressive sounding rubbish & that it’s going to be awhile before I run out of things to say about anything. So, until such time, we will continue to act as though the Earth spins on, going about our days as best we can with an eye to bigger & better things.

Sure, I’m still talking about a comicbook.

Okay, Once & Future!

Ever since I was a kid, I’ve been completely fascinated with the stories of King Arthur & the Knights of the Table Round. I read everything I could get my hands on- although 12 might have been a little early to take a stab at Morte d’Arthur– & watched all of the movies. A prized possession on my bookshelf is the first copy of DC’s Camelot 3000 in trade paperback (I missed the original twelve issue run, so I didn’t get the individual issues until fairly recently). I was very happy when Boom! Studios put out this spin on the lore, creating something totally new & sticking the landing in its first six issue arc.

So if this second arc might be considered a sequel to the first, by law it has to build on what’s come before, going bigger or going home. I’m not gonna give anything away, but once I’d devoured all things Arthurian, I moved on to other ancient legends, myths, & lore. That this team is branching out into another of my favorites has me very excited.

To cover some oft-tread ground, I have to point out that Kieron Gillen is a top tier writer. For Once & Future, he weaves ancient stories into the modern age in a way that makes you doubt your own understanding. I’ve read just about everything Arthurian, but the spin Gillen puts on those old stories brings it into focus in a way that made me scratch my head and wonder why I never looked at it that way. In the first arc, he established that maybe ancient legends are like history books in that they’re written by the winners, & that Arthur may not have been the pillar of nobility we all thought he was. This opened up a completely new kind of story, one based on archetypes & the set roles they play in literature. Leading me to another thing that Gillen does better than many, creating characters that are relatable, interesting, & entertaining. Duncan is an academic who has been thrust into the role of myth slayer. Rose started out as a level headed person meeting Duncan for the first time, & then being dragged along on an odyssey out of a fantasy book. And Gran… y’know what, I’m not gonna sit here and try to tell you how awesome Gran is, but I know that I’m not alone when I say that my fingers are crossed for a prequel series detailing her younger days of grand ass-kickery.

Carrying on the work begun in its first arc, Once & Future is as visually dynamic as could have been hoped for & we have the team of Dan Mora & Tamra Bonvillain to thank. Mora illustrated a great run on Boom’s Power Rangers titles, and his work with Grant Morrison on the annual Klaus (as in Santa, & also from Boom!) comics has become a much anticipated Christmas treat. He’s got a fantastic handle on drawing action scenes, as well as a knack for the smaller in between moments. Filling in those moments, giving them depth & color, falls to Tamra Bonvillain. It’s a great style for the subject matter, as Bonvillain uses a lot of sharp contrasts & crisp colors to bring this fantasy story into modern times.

Finally, Ed Dukeshire puts hypothetical pen to paper, giving voice to Gillen’s scripts. My tens of readers already know that I think Dukeshire should be sainted as his consistently solid work on lettering is something I continue to view as miraculous. At no time does he interrupt the flow of the comic, block out an important piece of artwork, or take me out of the story by pushing creativity over into the realm of unreadability. These are all hallmarks of poor lettering, and it’s just not something I’ve ever seen from Dukeshire. Also, in this issue he gets to play around a little bit, bringing Old English to the page (by the way, that could be a bit of a clue as to the legendary element being added to Once & Future’s cannon).

So I may not have gone so far as to dip into verse of any pentameter (another hint), but I hope I’ve managed to get it across that Once & Future is a fantastic bit of work. I don’t know how it might be improved, unless Gran declares at some point that Camelot is a “silly place” & turns her back on the whole thing while declaring that she’d like a meal without quite so much spam in it. Whether you think you know all that there is about Arthur Pendragon & his ilk, or you’ve never even heard of the guy, this title’s second arc should stand as a testament to shattered expectations.

That reveal at the end… Ufda! I did NOT see that one coming.

Final Score: 10+

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