- Once and Future #19
- Boom! Studios
- Written by Kieron Gillen
- Illustrated by Dan Mora
- Colors by Tamra Bonvillain
- Letters by Ed Dukeshire
Hey. You wanna hear a story? Stop me if you’ve heard this one…
Once upon a time, there was a king in a faraway land. His name was Arthur, and he was served by a grand wizard named Merlin. All the king had ever wanted was to unite his kingdom, a thing that hadn’t been done in a very long time. All it took for that dream to become reality was for enough people to know the story, to repeat it. Most importantly, to believe it.
The end of issue 18 sees the realization of Arthur’s dream as his story is televised by an unwise Prime Minister for all of England to see. The revelation resulted in the country being pulled in its entire into the bizarre landscape of Otherworld, now prey for all of the beasts & boggarts of myth. Standing between Arthur’s forces and total victory are Duncan, Rose, and the indomitable Gran. Immediately in their way is a swarm of bloodthirsty, razor toothed fairies.
The world of Once and Future is chaotic, unpredictable, and full of turns, just like every good story. In the hands of Kieron Gillen, this one just took a sharp left without so much as a turn signal. Which is what stories are supposed to do. Readers know that the stronger the story, the more momentum it gains and the longer it will endure as it takes on a life of its own. Which is, in turn, the driving concept behind Once and Future, the power of The Story. Gillen taps into that power, subverting concepts of “good guys” and “bad guys” in favor of the more subjective concepts of protagonists and antagonists. As he’s driven his narrative forward, leaping from one mythical figure to the next, it’s only a question of how long can he go and how many mythologies will Gillen mine before he’s done?
Aiding and abetting the insanity, the always fantastic artwork of Dan Mora gives form to Gran and Duncan’s fantastical world. Anyone who’s been following the series should understand the importance of solid, dynamic illustrations. The characters and environments being dealt with include the likes of King Arthur, Beowulf, Camelot, and of course the one and only Gran! Things don’t get much more epic than these figures, and Mora brings them out of Avalon’s mists and onto the page where they can strut and wreak all kinds of mayhem. That world is further brought to life by Tamra Bonvillain’s colors, as bold and vivid as anything dreamt up by the bards of old. There isn’t a page in this series where anyone is just standing around with nothing going on, even when everyone is just standing around with nothing going on… a thing in itself that just doesn’t happen very often here.
In the end- a thing which eventually happens in all stories, if only to make way for the next tale- Once and Future is the grandest of adventures because it’s about all of the adventures. The only real adventure beyond this is the story that I feel would be the end (or beginning) to all stories. I’m, of course, referring to the inevitable if I have anything to say about it origin story of Gran. Every issue, every page that she’s graced, has revealed just the barest whiff of a life that’s been LIVED. That’s the punctuation mark on one of the most entertaining titles to come out of Boom’s library so far.
Final Score: 12/13